Smoke and Sacrifice is an open-world action RPG with a dark and mysterious story that will require some survival skills to see to the end. Are you up for the task? Learn more in our Smoke and Sacrifice review!
Smoke and Sacrifice Trailer
The story starts pretty smoothly, as you see Sachi, doing some work picking up crops in a field. At the end of her day though, she has to get back to the village because of a ritual involving her son. Once you get to the town, you’ll quickly realize that this ritual is about giving her baby boy to the Great Sun Tree as a sacrifice, to preserve what the Sun Tree and Sun Branches provide for the village. Upon leaving the temple, you’ll meet a stranger who’ll give you a pendant, but more importantly, you’ll overhear some of the temple priests suggesting that your son might still be alive…
After this pretty dramatic intro, you’re taken back to your everyday job in the crop fields, until one day the Sun Branches start flickering, thus giving an opportunity for pugbears (a.k.a. huge and dangerous monsters) to attack. After reaching the village’s temple, that stranger you met back then will hint you into exploring the temple, since all the priests are gone, to maybe uncover the truth about your missing son. Inside the temple, the same ray that made your son disappear will take you to another world, where the real adventure will begin!
Upon meeting one of the dwellers of this underworld, you’ll gradually learn the mechanics of the game. The fighting system is the most essential element the game has to offer, you only need the Square button to attack and the Triangle button to dodge. Even though it’s simple, it does fit in the whole story, as Sachi is far from being a fighter, she was just a girl attending crops the day before! At first, you’ll be fighting with your bare fists, but pretty soon in the story, you’ll learn a crafting recipe to be able to create yourself a weapon.
The story gradually evolves as you meet people who will give you your next objectives to advance the story, whether it’s to go to a certain place or craft a certain item that you most often require to be able to proceed. The down arrow button will give you access to your quest log if you ever feel lost on what you should be doing, while the up arrow gives you the world map, complete with markers for certain quests.
And this brings us to what is for me the core element of the game, the crafting. Apart from the fighting and quests, this one is all about surviving. As you explore the map you’ll be able to pick stuff up from either the ground, from trees after hitting them, killed enemies, that will all serve at one point or another to get you crafting stuff. And the good news is that this system is straightforward, where you just have to use your left arrow to get into the menu, select the item you want to craft, given that you have all the necessary materials, and you just hold the cross button. There’s a day/night cycle in the game, wherein the night the land is filled with a smoky mist that can kill you unless you have a lantern that is crafted in part with a firefly that you catch. So not only will you be required to make yourself weapons and equipment, but also that source of light if you want to be able to explore!
The game is played in isometric perspective, boasting some really nice hand-drawn graphics. The visuals are colorful, yet dark and gritty at the same time with the fantasy and robotic universe the game is set in. There’s no denying that the looks of the game were made to suck you into their own little world and it works really well.
A couple of minutes into the game, when I learned that I would literally sacrifice my son, I knew I was in for a treat with this story. And things kicked up a notch with the mystery that he might still be alive. This is the kind of story that’s great to play and keeps you on your toes as to what will happen next.
And then, you combine that with the whole survival aspect of the game. Save points are pretty scarce, so you have to be careful when you’re exploring, thinking you’re safe, as there are enemies pretty much everywhere that are ready to get at you. It’s clearly not the kind of game that you can do in a rush, and for me, it was a selling point. In fact, it reminded me a bit of the pattern of looting and crafting to go a bit further in the story as in Fallout 3 or 4. There isn’t a huge variety in the monsters out there, a few of them are just re-skins of ones you’ve seen before, but the fun the crafting and story provide can easily compensate this.
As for that shiny platinum, if you decide to invest yourself in the game, there isn’t much that looks challenging, other than the fact that you’ll probably have to explore every corner of the map to find every place and some specific enemies that you have to kill.
Hidden under those beautiful hand-drawn graphics is a dark and really interesting story that’s worth playing by itself. Combine that with the survival system they’ve put in place in the game, and you just got yourself a really fun action RPG that’s definitely worth playing!
PSN Price: $19.99
This Smoke and Sacrifice review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Curve Digital.