|Missiles! Explosions! Running! All the ingredients for a good action sequence...|
except without the ferocity.
For a brief period, I gave the second Sin and Punishment game a try. A sort of bullet-hell rail shooter from the fine folks at Treasure, the game, based on all the impressions I've read, was poised to be something great. To be the sort of no-holds-bared, off-the-wall chaos that characterizes the bullet-hell genre in the first place.
What I got was a overly safe and relatively uneventful rail shooter.
I should state that I only made it through three stages before sending the game back to GameFly. So yes -- I fully acknowledge that I may very well have given up on the game too early and missed out on the good stuff. I accept that. But, that said, that still doesn't make up for the design's noticeable lack of tension.
A proper bullet-hell scenario is one where the player is weaving through nearly endless waves of enemy firepower, particularly when one misstep is all that stands between survival and an untimely death. (A one-hit-kill, in other words.) Star Successor's prime mistake is giving the player character a hundred hit-points worth of health.
On its own, that's not inherently abhorrent. Just up the amount of projectiles to compensate for the handicap, right? Sure... except Sin and Punishment doesn't do that. Instead of using those hit-points to lend the player a fighting chance against the tortuous onslaught of energy-based bullets, it only serves to further simplify. And it's all because of the dodge move, which grants temporary invincibility upon use and can be spammed endlessly.
That feature alone is what did the game in for me. For instead of paying close attention to myself and my surroundings, all I had to do was mash away on the dodge button, allowing me to fly freely through each challenge with nary a scratch. And if I did happen to die, the forgiving checkpoint system ensured that I'd start off right where I died. So, really, there wasn't anything to fret over. Just keep on blasting through hordes of baddies until the credits roll. Hardly interesting when games like this traditionally live and die by their difficulty level.
|The charge shot makes things pretty easy, too. Though at least you can't spam that.|
Now, if this were a proper bullet-hell game, such components wouldn't exist here, let alone ever be considered. Development would only focus on making the levels increasingly intense right from the get-go. Sin and Punishment, by comparison, begins on a very dull note, with the first level being a suffocatingly controlled doling out of foes and obstacles. It's a tutorial, granted, but even so. A chance to test one's mettle right from the very first second is always the best approach when it comes to this.
Again, I completely accept that the later content could very well be mind-blowingly fierce. But, at the same time, that doesn't make the underwhelming start forgivable. Action games need to enrapture the player as soon as humanly possible, because otherwise you're just going to lose players' attention. Given Treasure's track record with the genre, I expected better of them. Hopefully their next shooter will be faster to entertain.