There are always a number of significant milestones for a big Japanese manga series to hit as it enters the mainstream and becomes a Big Deal™. The manga should get an anime! That anime should get an English dub! And then a movie! Seven Deadly Sins is a vibrant and unique action series that’s been sweeping through all of these big achievements swiftly, but the most exciting one of all has only just been achieved. A Seven Deadly Sins video game has finally arrived, and it is a sinful affair indeed.
Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia is a 1 on 1 arena battle game comparable to something like a Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm or a J-Stars Victory VS. Much like those titles, the combat options available here are flashy, but limited. You have two predetermined combo strings, two or three special moves, and a powerful super move. While attacks look like they have weight behind them, the input lag between pressing an attack button and seeing it play out on-screen ruins any sense of satisfaction you might get out of combat.
Destructible environments and fun movement abilities add some flair, but even those mechanics are rife with flaws. Environmental hazards will randomly take a few hits before being destroyed, and your auto-locked dash abilities will constantly get you stuck in the middle of these destructible environment items, while also flinging your camera around into indecipherable angles at motion-sickness inducing speeds.
Characters manage to feel unique from each other despite these clunky, limited ability sets, but you won’t notice that for a while, as 21 of the 25 playable fighters need to be unlocked in Adventure Mode, which is where the lion’s share of this game’s issues reside.
Seven Deadly Sins is about a princess named Elizabeth, who joins forces with a young boy named Meliodas and his talking pig Hawk in order to reunite a group called the Seven Deadly Sins so that they may overthrow the corrupt Holy Knights who have overthrown the kingdom. The brisk manner in which I just described the first episode of the Seven Deadly Sins anime is how this game relays it’s entire narrative. Climactic scenes and fateful encounters from the source material are embarrassingly recreated here in brief, poorly written dialogue-box exchanges. The most important battles from the series are simply generic arena battles book-ended by 2-3 lines of that same lazy dialogue. For newcomers to the series, you’ll be lost beyond belief with no idea of what’s happening. Faithful fans will be able to keep up with the story, only to be disappointed by how poorly it’s all been adapted.
The game attempts to pad out its brief story missions with a number of systems that, like the rest of the games ideas, fall disastrously flat. When you’re not going through basic arena battles for missions, you’ll be doing mind-numbing resource gathering quests as Elizabeth, or horde battle missions with arbitrary time limits. Before you can move on to your next quest, you need to slowly traverse an overworld map, find the corresponding town that your quest takes place in, visit the town, and then accept the quest. The slow movement speed and the lack of a clear map only serve to fluff up a depressingly thin story mode.
Still, a genuinely interesting idea shines through the pile of burning trash that is this story mode. As you destroy objects in battles during quests, you’ll earn points that fill a Rumor Gauge. When this gauge updates at the end of a quest, townsfolk begin sharing and spreading rumours of odd nearby happenings that relate to your next objective, which you end up overhearing. It’s the one interesting aspect of the Adventure Mode that I thought was executed successfully, most importantly because it never felt like I had to grind missions out in order to fill this gauge enough to progress the story.
In the audio department, Seven Deadly Sins is a bit of a hit, but mostly a miss. Anime voice actors return to their roles for the game, and do a perfectly fine job with their battle cries and Adventure Mode dialogue, but this game only has Japanese audio, so don’t expect any familiar voices if you’re a Netflix fan. In terms of music, things are a lot more rocky. You’ll hear a few different battle themes during fights that are fine enough, but for some reason, there was only ever one piece of generic ‘tense mood music’ that seemed to play in every single story scene, and it got very old, very quickly. Horde enemies also seem to only have one voice clip, and hearing that same voice clip blast out dozens of times at once as you mow down enemy waves made me want to immediately set my voice language to “none”.
If this game had a strongest quality, it would probably be its visuals. The environments you do battle in are lush and gorgeously lit, and when you’re going at it and sending debris flying everywhere, the scene of carnage is a legitimately impressive sight. Character models, while less impressive, are still surprisingly strong. Seven Deadly Sins has a unique art style where each character has their own bizarre anatomical quirk, like impossibly long legs or literal barrel chests. Their translations into the game are almost 1:1, although the way they were animated can sometimes be a little clunky.
It’s hard to recommend The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia to anyone but the most hardcore fans of the original series. Even then, though, I feel like a true fan would end their time with this game wishing they could have bought something better. A truncated story mode makes it impossible for newcomers to engage with any of the plot, and what little content that remains will only infuriate existing fans. It would be nice to be able to jump into Duel Mode and bypass Adventure Mode entirely, but when practically the entire cast needs to be unlocked, that really isn’t an option. Long-time fans of Seven Deadly Sins might find some joy in seeing their favourite characters make the jump to a big, 3D action game, but that alone is hardly worth suffering through the rest of what this poor package has to offer.
Version tested: PlayStation 4