Ark of Sinners Advance Review
- Gorgeous Gothic-inspired environments.
- Skill system gives you a chance to unlock what you consider important; sidesteps the true Metroid/vania style of gameplay.
- Auto-jumping is entirely unnecessary and only causes complications.
- No control modification options; jump is placed in a non-standard position for most platformers.
- Animations feel floppy and weightless; looks like everyone is moving at a fraction below real-time and outside of the concept of friction as they bob, weave and slide around the screen.
Ark of Sinners Advance feels far too loose to pull off its action-platforming, which is a shame because the world you travel in is a delight to explore.
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Those who travel in the RPG circles may be familiar with the Anima: Beyond Fantasy game system, but for those who aren't it's set in a strange hybrid fantasy world that has both futuristic and medieval elements to it. The latest release from Bulkypix is set within this dark and Gothic universe, and while Ark of Sinners has high aspirations in its Metroid/vania like gameplay, it falls desperately short of the mark.
Most of the blame can be directed towards the game's flabby controls - oh sure it has its basics covered: left, right, jump, attack and special attack, however their positioning on the screen and (more importantly) how they feel once used makes it hard to feel confident in your actions. Specifically, it's odd to constantly go to press the jump button (ordinarily within the corner of the screen) only to hit the special attack instead. Weirder still, you'll automatically jump as long as you hold the button down - imagine only _just_ clearing the lip of a platform higher than you and finding yourself launching upwards and forwards before you know what's happening.
The combat isn't much better as you engage in a typical combo-based system, however each hit lacks a sense of impact or weight - enemies as well as your character tend to float and bob around as though they're in a world made of jello. This has its cool side when you launch up in to the air and continue your attack, throwing them down to the ground on the final strike, but even with upgrades the combat feels wet and limp.
At least there's a lot more going on with the story, which shouldn't be surprising given the source material. Celia doesn't know how she ended up in Ark, but she does remember her partner and she'll stop at nothing to find Nemo (insert obligatory snigger here). She does so despite the warnings of the enigmatic 'ID', a harlequin suit wearing oddity that knows far more than it lets on.
The cityscapes as well as the character designs are also beautifully executed, looking perfectly creepy and menacing (as long as you don't start fighting them). It's just a shame you have to navigate a large portion of it from right to left, with a camera placed _just right_ to ensure you plow in to hazards before you have the time to pull back on the rubbery controls.
Ark of Sinners Advance has so much potential, but it's hard to enjoy what's on offer when it feels like you're wading through molasses.