There are few combinations of words that whet my appetite more than grimdark roguelike RPG. Sin Slayers, developed by Goonswarm, claims to be such a game so I decided to take it for a run and see if the title is as advertised. The game reminds me a lot of Darkest Dungeon, but has enough of its own style and mechanics to separate it from its obvious inspiration.
The crux of the game’s story is this; you’re adventurers, you’re in a land overwhelmed by evil, and you’ve been chased into a church to take refuge. This church acts as your home base and is where you will collect the various classes and support characters that will help you cleanse the aforementioned evil-soaked land.
You get to bring three classes with you when you go out into the overland map. You can set them up in a formation with one frontline and two backline, so your frontline should usually be a tank character. You begin with a warrior, a priest, and a hunter and soon get a tanky protector class. I made it far enough in to start unlocking some other classes, but they require quests to be completed to get access to them and some of the quests were going to take quite some time.
The overland map is a set of randomly generated tiles that contain monsters to fight and treasures to loot. And, like Darkest Dungeon, touching those treasures can be a double edged sword. You have a sin meter and doing sinful things, like looting dead bodies or disturbing tombs, raises it. The higher your sin meter, the tougher enemy fights became. I found myself skipping most looting opportunities because of this. This did have the unfortunate side effect of making the game a little easy, at least in the first 3 or 4 zones that I played.
Battles play out similarly to most old school JRPGs; two lines of combatants take turns attacking each other and using items. While you have a large bag in the overland map, only five stacks of items can be brought into combat and using them takes a whole character’s turn, so judging when to use a support item versus when to deal damage is an important decision that has to be made carefully. Characters have a health pool and an armor pool, the latter of which regens completely between fights. Abilities are fueled by rage, which increases through ability use. You start off with only two abilities per character, which does make early combat a little boring, but you get more abilities as your characters progress which increases the strategic depth.
Outside of exploration and combat is a crafting system that can be accessed both in the church and while in the exploration map. I found it quite useful for keeping me stocked up on disarm kits, to deal with traps, and health potions, since I stopped bringing the priest as soon as I got the big tank. There’s a bit of story with the characters as well, and quests that can be gained from overland encounters and from the church itself.
The visuals remind me of a 90s PC game; pixels with a higher resolution than you’d see on an SNES, and the music is suitably creepy and brooding for the game’s overall grimdark atmosphere. I had no issue with controls or menu navigation and the game ran as well as you’d expect a pixel graphic game in 2019 to run.
I think Sin Slayers is a really solid game. It wears its inspiration on its sleeve, but it does enough to differentiate itself from Darkest Dungeon and other similar party-based dungeon crawls.