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Waking up to a blood-red sky with a sword in hand and a mysterious voice telling me that my suffering is just beginning is a hell of a way to start, but Mortal Sin does exactly that.

True to its word, suffering does tend to be the name of the game as players will fall prey to death after death from horrible monsters, traps, and magic that soulless husks will be tossing at them right from the jump.

Mortal Sin is a first-person roguelike action-adventure where players will travel through demon-infested dungeons trying to slay monsters, while also working their way toward an evil presence known as the Embodiment of Sin.

Combat is melee-focused, so players will have several tools at their disposal that let them be more strategic than swinging a blade wildly. Beyond the normal strikes, it’s possible to charge an attack for a power swing dealing more damage, as well as a bash to stun enemies and a kick to push them away. The bash is also useful for interrupting certain enemy actions, like a summoner trying to call additional enemies. The kick is useful for pushing enemies away to create a moment to heal, or they can be kicked into deadly traps and disposed of altogether. Eventually, players will unlock abilities that combine these abilities and other skills.

There are three areas, with five floors in each area. Every floor is littered with traps and monsters that players must deal with as they search for the switches that will open the door to the next floor. Enemies can drop gold (used to buy equipment), red essence (to restore health), or blue wizard oil (used to restore durability to weapons and armor) when they’re defeated. Each weapon and armor piece has unique stats and abilities like elemental affinity or some kind of special attack, and these variations make each run feel fresh and different.

At the start of each run or between levels, players are thrown into a small hub world where they’ll unlock things to help the chances of their future runs, like a weapon shop for better gear and a potion shop for extra resources. If a player falls during a run, they’ll lose their current weapons and equipment, but will keep the gold they’ve obtained during that play session — and please note that I did use the word “session”, which is kind of the tip of the iceberg where Mortal Sin starts to make some unfortunate choices.

While gold will stays with the player between runs in a single session, that gold vanishes if the player quits out of the game and relaunches it. The same goes for any type of run progression, as there is no way to exit and save progress mid-run. Being forced to start from absolute zero and no resources regardless of how well I was doing last time feels like I’m being punished every time I have to quit a run — since there’s no suspend — or quit the game outright.

Another issue related to this is that progression only happens as players complete levels. If players hit a section that they can’t get past, then Mortal Sin completely stops unlocking new game elements.

As far as the combat itself, I’m not seeing the usefulness of the extra skills when straightforward sword slashing seems to work just fine. Perhaps there’s some synergy to skills I haven’t unlocked yet, but I’m not finding anything that significantly changes the way I play.

Mortal Sin‘s visuals are striking as the initially-grey world slowly becomes dominated by blue bodies of monstrous enemies and rivers of their deep red blood, but I have some issues with the overall aesthetic and specifically, what things share a color.

For example, the cave area is a mix of grey and blue walls with blue crystals the same shade of blue as the enemies themselves. Another issue is how deadly traps are the same shade of red as the switches players need to hit in order to open the door to the next floor. I would love to see some ability to either give enemies an outline to make them stand out, or a visual option to change some color elements.

Despite the visual issues and the currently-unimpressive state of the skills, I still feel as though Mortal Sin has serious potential. I’m always surprised by how much time has melted away after each session, so it definitely has that certain something that makes a roguelike player like me keep putting in “just one more run.” That said, there are dozens of great roguelikes on the market, so it’s tough to recommend this one right now. Of course, Mortal Sin is still in development, so there’s a good chance that further development will solve some of my gripes. Mortal Sin is currently scheduled for release later in 2022.

Eugene Sax
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