Every once in a while, a game comes along that relies heavily on religious iconography for its story telling. Usually, these games also come bundled with some degree of controversy (whether intentional or not), and they run the risk of scaring off gamers who see the use of their beloved beliefs as nothing more than mythological fantasy exploited for entertainment purposes. Party of Sin doesn’t appear to have an anti-religious agenda behind it. More likely, it seeks to marry old school platformers with the modern gaming conventions we have come to expect from action puzzlers.
There is both some good and bad to report about Party of Sin. The controls are stiff and combat is simplistic and boring. Fortunately there is a whole lot of interesting puzzle gameplay that redeems Party of Sin from the Hell it would otherwise deserve.
Party of Sin is a platform action/puzzle game. You play as the Seven Deadly Sins personified. The Sins have been captured and banished to Hell. You take control of the Sins to fight and solve your way out of Hell and ultimately to take revenge on Saint Michael.
Party of Sin doesn’t capture the eye with staggering visuals. What it does is offer fairly simple yet animated backdrops and a variety of level environments to advance through. Characters models are modestly detailed. On the positive side, the low detail allows for Party of Sin to run on more PCs out there. The animations are crude and the effects are there for function over form, merely to convey what is going on on-screen.
Here is where we begin to see both the depth and despair of Party of Sin. Each playable Sin has basic combat moves and a jump button, but what gives Party of Sin its charm is the way each Sin utilizes a special move to get the work done.
Wrath is the starting character and has a head butt charge, which can knock down some walls. Greed has a grappling hook, which can latch rings to pull himself to them or hook enemies like Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion. Gluttony can “eat” cubes and spit them out to stand on them to boost himself to higher areas. He can also eat enemies which gives the player a health boost. Envy shoots a green laser that is used for puzzle solving as well as killing enemies. Pride has a lunge upward to navigate longer jumps. Lust enchants her foes, which temporarily stops them from attacking. Finally, Sloth can slow environmental objects down to allow them to be surpassed.
Every controls basically the same except for some minor nuances like movement speed and special moves. Though you may still be tempted to try to surmount obstacles by jumping over them, don’t be fooled. Everyone has the same jump height and no one knows how to grab a ledge. It may be that I am spoiled by the wealth of action platformers out there that let you hang from and climb up ledges, but it was unfortunate to fail some of the puzzles simply because I was a pixel or two off from landing on the ledge. This scenario happened more than it should have, due mostly to flying enemies that nudged me towards my doom.
While the controls can’t be described as tight, they are effective. And the developers did a fine job mapping the buttons for flexibility and usefulness. Each of the Sins is mapped to a button on the controller for quick access, or you can use the radial menu. It really is best to get used to the mapped buttons though, as some of the puzzles require quick changes between Sins.
Puzzles vary from simple 1 or 2 step processes to multi-part gauntlets that will test your brain power and reflexes. These result in those wonderful “Aha!” moments that puzzle good puzzle games are loved for. Party of Sin has plenty of them.
Adding value to the Party of Sin is the unlock system. Each level has special green apples that can be redeemed to boost your Sins special attacks. This also encourages replaying levels to try to collect them all.
At the end of each level, you are shown a graph, displayed by relative time, indicating which Sins you used the most.
Light metal soundtrack, simple sound effects. Not much else here.
Another feature adding value to the package is the 4 player local multiplayer. You and three of your friends can buddy up to fight your way out of Hell, but for a little added bonus you can grief your pals by gulping them up and tossing them into lava.
End of Days
I’ve got to give Crankshaft some credit. They offer up a pretty original concept story-wise, and they definitely have a knack for what makes a good puzzle. With a little polish, Party of Sin could have been a great action/platform/puzzle game. The combat is a little rough, and the controls are a little stiff, but the puzzle concepts are unique and interesting, and balancing 7 distinct characters and their powers is fun and challenging.
There is nothing game breaking about Party of Sin, but too many small things take away from the overall experience and bring down the score. But Crankshaft is on my radar, and I will be watching them for future releases.