Rejoice, sinners, for redemption is on its way. Saga of Sins puts players in control of Cecil, a battle-weary cleric who has recently returned from the Crusades. Rather than receive a joyous reception when he arrives, he sees his home village of Sinwell has become infested with plague and its citizens consumed with their sinful ways.
Fortunately, Cecil’s master, Ulrich, has a solution to the crisis gripping Sinwell. He grants Cecil the power to enter people’s minds and battle the sin within them — first as a Werewolf that shoots fireballs from its mouth, and later as a flame-breathing Gargoyle and, eventually, as a winged Griffin. By taking these forms and diving into the hearts of those indulging in sin, Cecil can battle the demons and free the people from their influence.
Suspicions that all is not as it seems are raised very early. The game doesn’t make a secret that there is more going on than the player realises, so it isn’t much of a surprise when it turns things on their head with a mid-game twist. It’s still effective and breathes life into the second half of a game that quickly becomes a touch formulaic, but it’s unlikely to catch you by surprise.
The gameplay in Saga of Sins takes its inspiration from classic action platformers like MegaManwith a touch of Metroidvania mixed in for good measure. You explore Sinwell and interact with the citizens to discover which sin they’re afflicted with. Each stage is themed around one of the Seven Deadly Sins, though most of the differences are purely cosmetic. Greed and Envy offer some small changes in how money is earned or lost, but otherwise, there is little difference between the stages.
It’s disappointing that each level is so similar. It would have been fun to have seen more unique creatures or more varied mechanics at play to bring the Sins front and centre in the plot. As it is, they feel like window dressing to the story of Cecil and Ulrich rather than a key component.
Fortunately, Saga of Sins is relatively short. There are a total of 31 sinners to save in Sinwell; two levels plus a boss fight for each of the Seven Deadly Sins. The remaining ten levels are Innocents who are free of sin. These stages don’t have any enemies but instead are presented as a puzzle to be solved for more coins. Completing all of these levels will take you around 10 hours, though you can go back and complete them again if you want to get more gold or unlock the game’s secret ending.
Each of your three main beastly forms gets upgrades that can be purchased with earned gold. Some of these increase your health or give you more Power Dashes, which can be used to both attack enemies and reach new areas. There is a slight balance issue at play since once you unlock the Griffin form, all the other forms are only really needed for specific puzzle elements. The Griffin does everything they can do but better, making it the default choice for players to use until proven otherwise.
Saga of Sins’ visuals replicate the look of a stained-glass window in a church and are easily the most interesting part of the game. The walking and running animations are all a bit stilted, as if they were animated using Flash Player in 2005, but we can forgive that minor issue because of how well Cecil controls and how consistently nice the visuals are. The way that enemies get cracks in them as they take more damage only to shatter like glass on death is a great touch that goes a long way to improving how Saga of Sins comes together.
Players hoping that Saga of Sins would replicate Mega Man’s infamous difficulty curves will be sorely disappointed, we’re afraid. While later levels are more challenging than early ones, none require more than a handful of attempts to complete. A couple of puzzles that rely on quick use of Power Dashes might take longer, but these are usually optional paths for players looking to uncover the game’s hidden treasure chests. Most of the bosses are more like puzzles than anything else, meaning that it is all a case of finding the right pattern or creature to attack with.
A touch more challenge would have helped make the ending feel more like an accomplishment. It is almost too easy to unlock the entire skill tree, which gives you a distinct advantage against enemies. This slight balance issue makes Saga of Sins feel underwhelming, despite everything that it does well. You can’t invoke games like Mega Man and then take it easy on your players.
This leaves Saga of Sins is a technically proficient if somewhat basic addition to the Switch’s library of action-adventure platformers. Even on Hard difficulty, it lacks enough of a challenge to feel satisfying. If the plot had been a touch more difficult to predict or if some of the later levels weren’t quite so easy, it would be easier to recommend Saga of Sins. The way the developer, Bonus Level Entertainment, has stuck to the visual theme so consistently is one of the highlights, but it isn’t quite enough to save this one and elevate it heavenwards.
Saga of Sins’ excellent stained-glass visuals are let down by a predictable plot and somewhat workaday gameplay. Hardcore action-platform fans will probably be disappointed, but it might serve as a gentle introduction for newcomers to the genre. There aren’t any glaring faults or issues, but it’s a shame that it doesn’t do quite enough with its solid mind-jumping, demon-battling premise.
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