by Michael Stallworth
reviewed on PC
Sloth, greed, wrath, envy, pride, gluttony, and lust; these may sound like the emotional states of someone spending a weekend in Vegas but they’re actually the basis for the new RPG Sins of the Demon.
Sins of the Demon takes place in the land of Lanistra, a world that has been in turmoil since the banishment of the demon Isharul. As his evil was forced from Lanistra, Isharul placed a curse upon land; anyone who repeatedly commits one of the seven deadly sins transforms into a demon. For the people of Lanistra, all hope is lost, unless a hero can emerge to lift the curse from the land. This is the basic setup for Sins of the Demon, the aforementioned hero is Kenshi, a demon hunter who travels from town to town with Shinto, his brother. Shinto isn’t just Kenshi’s brother, he is also a demon, and a cat, who can talk (just go with it). To many, this will all seem pretty standard for a game made in RPG maker; battle monsters, strengthen your party, save the world, rinse and repeat. But, this is anything but a cookie cutter RPG, everything from combat to character interactions are executed in an innovative and fun way.
The gameplay in Sins of the Demon will be familiar to anyone who’s played a Super NES era RPG. But any fan of RPG’s will notice some big differences after only a few minutes of gameplay. The battle system is the first thing that sets Sins of the Demon apart from the sea of RPG Maker games that litter Steam’s store page. The game employs an Active Time Battle System (ATB) which means that enemies will continue to attack your party whether you’ve selected a command or not. This battle system makes the game’s combat fast and frantic, while still requiring players to employ strategy to be successful. It makes the combat feel like a game of speed chess, simply mashing the attack is a recipe for failure.
A love of food
Speaking of recipes, Sins of the Demon’s also employs a well-designed cooking system which allows players to craft health restoring food items from ingredients collected through the game. The system takes the place of the traditional Inn System, where a party can be completely healed by sleeping in a bed. Here, the only way to heal your party is to either craft food items from ingredients found through exploration and combat, or to buy those food items from shops. Making a player have to spend either money or supplies to regain health adds a resources management element to the game and gives stakes to the gameplay. Much like the combat, this healing system requires players to carefully consider their actions. “Should I cook a rice ball now for a little bit of health, or risk searching for more ingredients to cook the more restorative sushi?” These are the types of questions that players will constantly be wrestling with, you never get something for nothing and every action has a consequence.
Sins of the Demon also breaks RPG tradition by not including any sort of weapon system in the game, so there’s no buffing out character stats by replacing weapons and armor. In the same vein, there’s no stat customization when a character levels up, all of the character’s stats just increase at a steady rate. At first, it seems strange that an RPG that clearly has had so much care put into its design would fail to include this key mechanic. But as with healing, the character customization is employed through the game’s cooking system. Around the end of the first act of the game, players are given the ability to cook or purchase special character buffing foods that allows players to tailor their stats to their liking. Using the cooking system to craft both health items and stat buffs is an interesting mechanic and is even intertwined with the game’s story. Kenshi’s love of food and cooking is one of his primary character traits. When the cooking mechanic is introduced it nicely dovetails with what you already know about the character, which is engaging as the gameplay emerges organically from the game’s story.
From a pure gameplay standpoint there’s little to complain about. The game’s difficulty scales nicely with your party’s progression, keeping the gameplay challenging without ever making you want to tear your hair out. The main story mission clocks in at around ten hours with another three hours of side missions. Interestingly, some of the side quests are only available during a certain window of time in the game, once that window closes players are unable to access those quests. This will undoubtedly annoy some players, but it does encourage you to fully explore a location before moving onto a new area.
Sins of the Demon looks like a standard RPG Maker game, but the well-designed gameplay and the immersive story prove that it is anything but. Both the Active Time Battle system and how cooking is used as a character progression mechanic create a good mix of new and familiar game mechanics. Add a funny and engaging plot and any fan of Super NES era RPG’s will find this game to be well worth the price of admission.
Innovative use of food, refreshing battle system.
Occasionally bland graphics