The tiny, privately-owned Tokyo-based company Treasure represents the strongest possible argument to support the old idiom about too many cooks. They are renowned for allocating the smallest possible number of staff members to develop their titles, and Sin And Punishment: Successor Of The Skies is rumoured to have been the work of a team comprised of less than ten people in total. If that’s true, then it should really serve as some kind of industry red flag.
Because were it acceptable to do so, it’d be extremely tempting to compose an entire review of Sin And Punishment: Successor Of The Skies using nothing but four-letter words. The sheer, all-encompassing excellence of what it does – namely, expect you to get out of an increasingly impossible-seeming series of jaw-dropping situations – singles it out as the best thing that Treasure have ever done. Everyone involved is playing directly to their strengths, and the company’s patented speciality; of mixing non-stop action with adroit quasi-puzzling; has never been more unequivocal. Or polished.
Fans of the first game will be pleased to note that this sequel is every bit as deranged as the original. An indelible enemy is never more than a few seconds away, and some of our favourites included the aimless swarming pilchards, a quadruplet of performing dolphins, and a cloak-wearing playboy who taunts you in between attacks by calling you a “filthy perv”. The game also rewards defensive play more readily than the original did, with the sword melee attack and roll dodge being utterly essential tools here.
The plot is nonsense, the excitement is ceaseless, and the feeling of genuine progression – as you’re perpetually tasked with breaking down the fundamentals of a daunting scenario until you are able (in some cases) to ace it without getting hit once – is incomparably rewarding, often leaving you amazed at the breadth your own abilities. There is an insignificant but welcome handful of visual and aural cues that have apparently been included to call Treasure’s previous masterpiece Ikaruga to mind (it’s mainly minor menu pings, typefaces and that same baby-blue hue) and the checkpointing system is similarly adept.
A multiplayer option is included, although a second player will be present only as an extra cursor – an understandable concession, given how faultlessly the thing runs at its 60 frames per second. The simple and well-implemented inclusion of online leaderboards is a masterstroke that’ll keep players returning ad infinitum, and every one of the game’s seven levels is as distinctive and entertaining as the last. It is fully compatible with the Classic Controller for those who are pining for some of the simplicity of the original, but if you don’t opt for the combination of the Wiimote and Nunchuck, you’re missing out on the game functioning at its most delectable.
Sin And Punishment: Successor Of The Skies is a blistering symphony of excellent ideas, every last one of them expertly constructed. It simply can’t be regarded as a work comprised of great moments, because there aren’t any lulls in between them. It’s as consistently thrilling as anything in Treasure’s estimable back catalogue, and is nothing less than an instant classic. It is also, unquestionably, one of the very best games of 2010 thus far.
Watch the Sin And Punishment: Successor Of The Skies trailer here…