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Key Information: Developer/Publisher: Goonswarm/Black Tower Entertainment Genre: RPG, Turn Based Strategy, Rogue-lite Price: £11.39 (Steam, Humble) "Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride; these are the seven deadly sins men and women are confronted with throughout their time on this mortal plane of existence, temptations borne within the hearts and souls of us all, the slippery path set before us to lead us all into damnation." The words reverberated around the cold stone walls of the chapel, not spoken in raised tone but with a solemnity that granted them both power and presence. The Warrior was tense, for he had no recollection of how they had arrived in this place nor whether the elderly man before them was complicit in this mystery, though for now it seemed wisest to stay silent and listen. "For aeons we had believed that those hedonistic traits were nothing more than bedtime horror tales, told to keep children and adult alike on the narrow path of virtuousness, designed to keep the masses in line while our Noblemen & Women pursued a much freer life, where the judgmental eyes of the keepers of the faith did not watch." The Huntress & Priestess flanked the Warrior, focused less on the speaker and far more alert to their surroundings. Faint light crept from hanging candles in the corners of the chapel hall, casting ungodly shadows across the baroque statues based around the pillars supporting the towering ceiling, as if the shadows themselves held a life of their own. "Foolish we all were to discard the warnings of scripture as nothing more than manipulative writings, our lack of belief has deceived us all. Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy & Pride; we caved to our primal desires, and as each and every one of us traveled that path we opened the door to them. Further we debased our virtue, and we lent credence to them, granting them substance." The lights around the chapel grew dimmer, the shadows growing in thickness and seeming to move with a real energy around the hall. All three of them now focused solely on the heavy words falling from the old mans lips, reverberating around the now unseen walls. "The Sin Lords, accompanied by the lost and ruinous, the damned and possessed, hold dominion over this realm. There is no escaping from this reality, there is only the hard trail of redemption, and if you wish to feel the warmth of a bright summer day or taste the freshness of spring water upon your lips again then you must face those hedonistic desires within and overcome the Seven Deadly Sins" Overview: Sin Slayers is a new offering from Goonswarm which offers quick turn based combat, RPG progression and Rogue-lite adventuring on procedurally generated gothic maps, ensuring no two playthroughs are exactly the same. Review: The vast majority of your time will be spent on the atmospheric procedurally generated maps outside of the Church safe haven, tentatively exploring through the fog of war in search of your quarry, while also expecting something horrible to happen with every move into an unexplored tile. There are a whole range of text based events to come across, allowing you to rummage through graves and all manner of other things for some items of note, as well as static traps, traders, resting points, and of course enemy encounters. The trio of heroes you decide to bring on an adventure will allow you some tools to make exploring a little easier (the Warrior will reveal tiles of interest within a small range), though it’s worth thinking about when you decide to use these abilities, as there are cooldown timers that only tick over as you move through unexplored portions of the map, so using the Priestesses group heal prematurely can really haunt you if you encounter a bruising battle straight after! These maps are also where one of the games stand out features begins to play out, the Sin Meter, which will increase as you undertake certain actions on the map, and are very thematically tied to the Sin Lord which rules over the part of the world you’ve set foot in. Gluttony will punish players for using food items, Sloth punishes use of the healing/resting fountains, Envy will punish any crafting done while on the map. These all provide a slightly different handicap to players, as if you haven’t prepared carefully for the Sin you are facing, the inhabitants of the map will get increasingly more powerful as your sin meter increases. Remember here though, that with greater risk comes greater reward, and while managing your Sin level to keep it low will offer a quicker and easier journey, if you can handle the greater punishment the game will reward you with greater payouts after battles! The remainder of your time will be spent within the sanctuary of the Church, a place full of NPCs you’ve encountered on your journeys, and where you have the ability to use traders, change up the trio of adventurers you’re using, progress through the main quests, as well as explore the deeper parts of the crafting system. Sin Slayers can feel a little light in the RPG progression department if you’re looking for a game that offers deep customisation and a crafting system worthy of needing a degree education, however, this isn’t a bad thing when you look at what the game is actually trying to achieve. Each of your heroes will be able to level up five times, increasing base stats (like health) in a fixed way, as well as having 5 levels of abilities to choose from as you get deeper into the game, and tweaking the active and passive abilities does give you a chance to have heroes fill certain needs within your squad. One of the surprises I liked was that unlocking ability choices doesn’t appear dependent on character level, as different craftable items (stones of knowledge) are used to get deeper into the ability tree, meaning you could unlock a new heroes skill tree immediately upon recruiting them if you desired it! Crafting can either be done mid-adventure with some items (food, potions, other 1 use items) while the deeper gear crafting will be available as you steadily progress the capabilities of the Smith in the church. One thing I learnt for too late was the it can be well worth keeping hold of older ‘useless’ gear as they become ingredients in the recipes for better gear; the Old Broken Axe is needed for a Battle Axe, and that in turn is required to craft the Inquisitors Axe which ends up being a solid weapon choice! Combat within Sin Slayers offers up no major surprises to any turn based strategy player, as your heroes line up against all manner of depraved and possessed enemies, before proceeding to take chunks out of each other in an initiative based order. The majority of fights aren’t particularly time consuming, but as the game implements a rock, paper, scissors system of resistances and weaknesses against differing types of damage (physical, holy, projectile amongst others) you can very quickly find yourself struggling against enemies which hold some advantages over you in this department. Given that there are 40 normal enemies, on top of the 7 mini bosses & 8 Sin Lords, the random encounter fights have enough variety to keep them engaging. Your 10 heroes themselves fit a variety of slightly different roles on the battlefield, bringing damage, abilities, and utility to your squad, and it’s well worth thinking about what synergies you can create on the battlefield! I’m currently running with the Inquisitor, Paladin & Warrior, all 3 are physical damage based, but with high armour (which unlike health, always replenishes for each battle) and the passive once a turn heal the Paladin offers give a hard hitting, durable trio with some self sustain. One last word of advice within battles, make sure you hover your mouse over the battlefield items, as the game will occasionally hide some free items within some inconspicuous looking crates/bottles/tables that would be easily dismissed as nothing but decoration. Final Thoughts: I’ve put a fair few hours into Sin Slayers since getting hold of a key, and while I’m now done with writing the review, the best compliment I can give the game is that I am not done playing this one just yet! There’s plenty of challenge to be found within the game if you decide to push your sin meter to the max, and even without handicapping yourself that way Sin Slayers is not a walk in the park once you progress past the first Sin Lord. The game offers another great option for people who are looking to relax for a couple of hours in a shorter gaming session, while still feeling like you’ve had some reward even if you’re adventure finished in failure overall! I want to thank Black Tower Entertainment for providing us with a key to take Sin Slayers for a spin, and if you’ve got any thoughts let me know below! HappyFeet #CraftFightSurvive
Key Info: Developer: Nolla Games Genre: Rogue-Lite, Action Price: £13.99 Steam Review: The rogue-lite, a genre that in a nutshell rewards you after hours of perseverance and dedication to your chosen punishment. The true masters of the art will pummel you into submission eventually giving you that singular golden thread of a perfect run before taking you back to endure more torture, like some mad waiter who’s given you the cutlery but ran away with the main course and forced you to live out some obscure groundhog day where you can’t quite taste the meal. Developed by Nolla Games, Noita is one of the latest in said genre. Akin to the ilk of Magicite and Deadcells it promises a painful experience from start to finish which at the time of writing I have not had a single successful run in the long string of now 200+ runs and 33 hours. Am I done yet? Nope. Gameplay involves the player popping into the world as a robed purple figure without much pretence of what’s going on, equipped with 2 wands sent to venture forth into a procedurally generated mine filled with enemies to collect gold for some unknown reason – likely this will get fleshed out later as this is still in early access. Wands are your main means of offence within the world with a maximum of four able to be held at any one time. Many can be picked up within the dungeon as you explore and can vary wildly from casting tiny bolts of magic which do limited damage to launching a full scale nuclear explosion across the screen that’s happy to rip you to shreds instantly should you be within the blast zone – which as a word of warning certain enemies can also pick up wands. These wands can also be customised should you reach the end of an area where you essentially level up. Customisation is only limited by what is either in the shop, in your inventory or attached to other wands which you can add and remove to test them out before heading further into the depths. Fancy something that shoots 5 fireballs at once or a bomb that also freezes liquids? The possibilities and combinations are mind boggling with new spells and effects being added regularly through the development process. Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes; starting off quite gentle in the first few stages featuring small bouncing enemies with easy to dodge projectiles all the way to what the hell was that thing oh look there’s the death screen in 3 seconds flat, at least it told me how I died. Every mob I’ve met so far has had different mechanics which is refreshing learning how to defeat or avoid them and provides a unique challenge as well as a possible solution when enemies fight eachother. With enemies and basic gameplay out of the way its time to get to the meat of what makes Noita stand out through so many others of the genre. Simulated Physics. Every pixel in the game boasts its own physics – liquids, dirt, sand, fire, gas, minecarts, rocks, ice, even electricity through liquids creating a very different kind of playpen for the creatively minded. Find a creative way to kill an enemy by kicking a flask of oil and watch it burn or impale it with a falling ice shard and you are rewarded double the gold for your victory. Yet be warned, enemies can end your fun just as easily; one moment of being trapped underwater after an enemy collapsed a roof on me comes to mind and drowning doesn’t take long especially when you accidentally swap to an electric weapon… fun times. A favourite trick of mine is kicking a minecart and riding said minecart downhill into an unsuspecting chump at the bottom. Bliss. Noita is an immensely fun and repayable gem that stands out because it deserves to stand out! With solid mechanics and a challenge that will keep even veterans to the roguelike genre satisfied for many an hour. Sat currently at £13.99 on steam I would recommend Noita to anyone… or at least anyone who is a glutton for punishment. Go on give the minecart ride a go and tell me it’s not satisfying!