That I enjoy writing about video games developed in Spain. This time we are talking about the new Cereal Games project. Studio known for creating numerous educational video games. So today’s protagonist would be Sinful, his leap into video games, shall we say, more commercial or taken from his “serious” lips. It also has the backing of BadLand Publishing, which acts as a distributor. little joke
If the dead don’t fit in hell, they will walk the earth
Dawn of the Living Dead – George A. Romero / Zack Snyder
Sinful: A Pixel Noir Game could go by many names: indie, narrative adventure, twin stick shooter… and even RPG. But the truth is that if all of the above is true, we’re talking about an adventure with a nice pixel aesthetic in which we’ll flirt with different genres where none can really stand out from the rest.
We’ll embody John Souza, an ex-cop removed from the force for his brutality, who spends his days getting drunk and little else. Things change when an old criminal, Charles “Two Angel”, whom John killed some time ago, rises from the dead. The funny thing is that this born-again villain asks for our help to be able to go to Heaven (San Pedro Stuff) and we, having nothing better to do, decide to help him totally… let alone after seeing him murdered, right? Thing is, he’s going to need us to break up his old colleagues who are up to their necks in shit. He gives us a blacklist and into chaos.
Once this is assimilated, it’s time to get dressed (literally) and walk the streets of Pecaminosa, ready to clean up the rotten city and in the process get a little plot of land in the sky for our former enemy.
We start with the typical interrogations of the meanest bunglers. Some are ready to go and others are crying out for hosts. We will delve into numerous dialogues to locate our prey and then end their lives. The conversations will be very interesting and show how well written it is. In the end we’ll have to decide what to say depending on the situation and our characteristics (RPG), which means that if we choose wrong, we’ll even see the game through the screen.
The game looks from above, classic GTA atmosphere and you have to walk around the city to reach the different locations where you have to act. They will be quaint, taking us from a butcher shop to the typical brothel or the sad police station. But actually the scheme will always be the same. Long walks, talking and acting.
While this is my favorite part of the title, I have to stress here how soulless the rides are. The game knows this and offers you taxis to speed up your journeys. But honestly I decided to walk. And I… missed something. Something is happening somewhere, not just buildings and the occasional squad car. It’s true that there are neighborhoods with character, but the city is dead. Just an interactive map to get you from A to B. Apart from that, the artistic part is really beautiful in general and it’s even more so in the interiors of the buildings. I would have liked an illustration to accompany the characters’ lines as we speak to them… but emphasizing such a precious pixel doesn’t look bad either.
As I said above, after the lecture comes the sticks. This is where the game switches genres and turns into a frantic arcade twin stick shooter. We’ll clearly see how the stage takes on an arcade atmosphere, with enemies in the corners and boxes of ammo or whiskey bottles (lives). We will have different weapons (that we will obtain organically) ranging from the simple punch to the pistol, shotgun and assault rifle (Thompson of course, it’s the 40s). And the game is going totally crazy right now, almost ridiculous. We start from moderately deep conversations, try to extract information from brawlers, and suddenly we find ourselves in a fight against a boss with his mechanics and special attacks.
Still, the genre mix isn’t that bad. We also have the RPG out there, we will level up and thereby unlock skill points that we can invest in more life, speed (for using the dash), intelligence (for dialogues) or luck (for object appearances). This doesn’t conclusively help to end the game, but it doesn’t hurt either. Let’s just say it offers a bit of customization that makes you think your character suits your playstyle. It’s subtle but partially noticeable.
Now I start folding the rictus. I started Pecaminosa with great enthusiasm. I make a Herculean effort to understand each line as the title is “English only” and it’s not like I’m Shakespeare. But I was hooked, I loved the way he had to mix talk and action. I didn’t quite realize the action was so crazy… but I was hooked nonetheless. The problem came to me at a certain point in the adventure where we go to the desert and from there the game is different.
We leave aside the dark streets of Sinful and its film noir aesthetic. Its “Art Deco” magic with gangsters, corruption and vice. And suddenly we are in the desert fighting zombies and giant scorpions. WTF.
I can say yes, it is narratively justified. But it breaks what originally started out as a game and swaps it out for another that isn’t as good anymore. In this part we forget about the mini-map and it’s time to explore thoroughly, slowly and with the continuous siege of enemies. It’s time to empty the chargers and we’re taking on the action with two hands, which is certainly not the main attraction. I was hoping it would be an easy phase, one chapter… but no, at this point the madness is accentuated and the body barely prepares us for the final chapter that goes completely insane, welcome to hell.
I’m not saying the game stops being good, far from it. It just goes from one thing to another, which I think is a few steps down.
The fight seemed perfect to me for the first few hours. Limited ammo, slow and demanding. Perfect for subtle moments between talk and talk. But once a large part of the proposal revolves around it, its flaws are obvious and it hampers the fun.
With almost everything said, the fact remains that Pecaminosa is a unique product. I really liked its first few hours and I think despite the less rewarding twists it has a good story between its pixels. His art department is valuable. A very well executed pixel art with really good lighting and colors combined with a unique and very personal atmosphere like this film noir. The soundtrack has hints of jazz and perfectly does its job of creating atmosphere. Audiovisually, we are faced with a top-of-the-range product.
In total. Sinful is a good video game. A unique proposal that combines genres without hurting. But that unfortunately loses the balance that has made it an exceptional product that revolves around pure and simple action in its final part. Despite this, we’re talking about a video game that will undoubtedly keep you hooked for a few hours and I’m waiting for the lyrics to arrive in Spanish. At this point, I’m not ruling out shooting it again.