We’ve all felt it at some time in our life; the overbearing weight of knowing you did something wrong and the fear of having to face your sin head-on. Usually, that involves nothing more than an apology (or maybe some jail time) but we’re able to wash ourselves of our wrongdoings and carry on. Now, imagine if you had to face your sins in a life or death struggle to the bitter end.
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption puts players in the unfortunate shoes of Adam, a man who wakes up in a dark and unforgiving land with no recollection of how he arrived there or how he’ll escape. Set against a hellish landscape, crafted with a fantastical blend of cel-shading and the stark contrast of dark and light, the development team at Dark Star used Unreal Engine 4 to bring its torturous tale to life.
Taking obvious inspiration from the Dark Souls series (but it isn’t a Souls-like!), Dark Star has created an action RPG boss battler in which players face off against evil like they’ve never known. See each of the seven deadly sins come to life in terrifying detail and in ways you couldn’t imagine. It will take all your skills to overcome Sinner’s unique mechanics, taking away your most vital aids in the direst of moments. Redemption comes at a cost. Are you willing to pay the price?
We caught up with the team at Dark Star to learn more about the project.
Dark Star is made up of developers from impressive backgrounds at places like Ubisoft, Blizzard, and Konami. How did you all come together to form this new indie studio?
We simply wanted to create our own games without the restrictions and limitations of bigger companies, so we got together and created our own studio, Dark Star. This allowed us to work free of anyone’s rules and ideas but our own.
Did anyone have past experience with Unreal Engine? Why was Unreal Engine the choice for Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption?
Yes, one of our founders used Unreal Engine 3 in the development of an MMORPG before we started Dark Star. Unfortunately, we encountered problems while using other engines so navigating toward Unreal Engine made sense. It proved to be very difficult to get the source code from commercial engines so our ideas couldn’t be realized the way we truly wanted. Another hindrance was that it takes a huge amount of effort to develop tools in these open source engines, as well. We were surprised when we learned that Unreal Engine 4 went open source. We jumped in and developed two experimental VR game demos and they turned out really well so when we needed a powerful and convenient engine to develop Sinner, we chose Unreal. Unreal Engine has great support in China too, so that definitely helped.
A man wakes up with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. What can you tell us about the journey players will go on as they make their way through Adam’s story?
Revealing the truth is crueler than ignorance. After all is said and done, you wish that the truth was never revealed and that you never woke up in the first place. Ignorance is, as they say, bliss! You’ll have to wait and see to discover more!
Adam will struggle for his ‘redemption’ or remain ever lost in his unknown past. Give us some insight into Adam’s head. Can you tell us about the demons he’s wrestling with in his own mind?
Everyone has their dark secrets that even they don’t know or understand. The sins Adam bears are too heavy, so much so that his soul is covered with darkness. Again, we hate to be mysterious, but you’ll have to wait to discover more!
What are some of the tools Adam will have at his disposal to take on the monstrous enemies in Sinner?
There are two weapons at the beginning of the game and more to unlock later. Multiple items are also at your disposal including spells, spears, and healing items. But many of these will be lost or reduced as you play through the game. Perhaps you’re sensing a theme here but we have so much awesome stuff in Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption that we want players to be surprised by!
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption names games like Shadow of the Colossus and the Souls series as inspirations. How did you pay respect to these inspirations while still making Sinner stand out as a unique game all its own?
Sinner has its own color palette and art style that kind of mixes Eastern and Western styles. We all love the Souls series and those games look so good that it’s hard to imagine that they would be surpassed by new titles. Still, we hope people will enjoy Sinner’s unique take on the art style.
In your features list for Sinner, you mention a ‘level down’ gameplay mechanic. What exactly is that and how do you think it will affect the way players approach the game?
The level-down system reduces the player’s stats and item effectiveness at various times. It adds serious limitations to their movement and skill as they play the game. This system is designed to serve the story as well as create a uniquely challenging experience for gamers.
Bosses in the game are based on the sins of Adam. Can you give us any examples of how you used ‘sins’ to inspire these enemy designs?
Not wanting to give too much away, because these unique bosses are definitely pillars of the game we can say, for example, that in Envy’s design, the soul envies the flesh. They fight against each other then finally one person is divided into two. One is like a golden painting but without a soul, the other is a dark representation of Envy’s soul.
The animation in Sinner is a cross between dark fantasy and cel-shaded anime. How did Unreal Engine 4 help the team achieve the goals for graphics in the game?
We had a distinctive design in Sinner and Unreal Engine made it possible to execute really complicated ideas. For example, we needed a portal that could be placed anywhere. When it opens, players can see the path inside and the character can walk into it then interact with the environment correctly. It sounds simple but is actually really, really tricky. Thanks to the accessible underlying code, we were able to modify the rendering coding and achieved our goal perfectly.
If the developers had to pick one favorite tool in the Unreal Engine, what would it be and why?
Blueprint, no doubt. In the beginning, we used it only to test prototypes then recode with C++. But we found out it’s very flexible, so we tried to expose some logics to Blueprint and have the designer maintain them. It saved us a lot of communication and helped a lot.
Where can people go to find out more about Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption?
We are in the last stage of testing and adjustment and we will share the game with you soon. It will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch! Until then you can find us at the following places;