A Propitious Start
Netmarble’s turn-based RPG Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross follows the journey of a band of adventurers as they face off against the cruel and powerful order of Holy Knights. Based on the popular anime Seven Deadly Sins, the game might appeal more to fans of that series, but it can easily entertain even newcomers. The characters and lore are sufficiently explained to make the world approachable even for those unfamiliar with the series.
A streamlined beginner experience eases the player’s first steps into Seven Deadly Sins. The game holds your hand with tutorials and the virtual equivalent of grabbing your shoulders and turning you in the right direction. This is necessary because the game has a lot going on and any player could quickly feel overwhelmed. However, even with pointers, the game is still confusing. Not to the point of unplayability, but I just never fully understood the gameplay mechanics beyond the rudiments shown in the tutorial. Ultimately, I didn’t care enough to learn.
Looks Aren’t Everything
On paper, Seven Deadly Sins has all the makings of a well-rounded RPG experience. The game features a story mode with quests, character progression, and gearing up, as well as real-time PVP battles. Players can also form two-person cooperative raids to take on powerful demons. This earns them in-game store discounts and a variety of rewards. And the game’s guild system gives players access to additional raid opportunities and weekly missions.
The art style of Seven Deadly Sins is unquestionably the game’s strongest point. The cel shaded graphics impressively replicate the look of the anime, and frequent cutscenes further add to the feeling that you’re truly exploring the world of Britannia. But constant loading screens, despite lasting only a few seconds, are the cost of this immersion and quickly become tiresome.
The graphics unfortunately can’t make up for the areas where the game either lacks in content or overflows with it. On the surface, the game has everything to make it a success. So, I find it difficult to put my finger on exactly why I don’t like Seven Deadly Sins, but that’s the simple truth. I don’t like it. I have no desire to play it. Once the novelty of the game’s prettiness wore off, picking up my phone felt like a chore. And I think it boils down to the fact that the game just isn’t fun.
Gimme, Gimme, Gacha
Seven Deadly Sins falls into the same trap as many mobile games on the market today. An overwhelming and unnecessary plethora of features detract from the fun. Dozens of menus and submenus simply confuse the player. There are too many options, and most serve no purpose other than creating a maze that leads to an invitation to spend cash. A variety of in-game currencies, each used to improve different stats, items, or levels, only add to the confusion. And, again, their sole reason for existence is to entice players to purchase upgrade packs.
The gacha mechanics are not prevalent at the beginning. Seemingly free-to-play friendly options lure you in. The energy pool needed to engage in battle regens quickly enough that you don’t often have downtime. Daily missions, log-in bonuses, and quests result in a lot of items for upgrades. Your inventory ends up full of items. However, you soon find that these freebies aren’t enough. Inevitably as you progress through the game, you have more heroes to upgrade and gear up, costs are higher as levels increase, and you end up more and more tempted by the gacha packs for sale.
A game conceived primarily to earn the developer money means that it often ends up poorly designed. Areas that should retain focus—combat, gameplay, character development, and story—fall by the wayside while gacha mechanics take precedence. Seven Deadly Sins does not avoid this pitfall. The story is cliché and uninspired. I have dozens of characters with which to build my party, none of whom I feel attached to. My inventory is filled with items whose use I don’t fully understand. And the truth is I don’t care enough about the game to try to figure any of it out.
Whoa, Take It Easy
Let’s start with character customization. Simply put, the game gives you too much to do. You have typical RPG elements like leveling and gearing up. But when a hero reaches max level, they become eligible to evolve to a higher tier—from SR to SSR, for example. You can also upgrade a hero’s combat skills. And they have an affinity trait, which you increase by giving them gifts. Each character has different unlockable outfits, some of which will boost their stats. And every hero can link up with other characters to create powerful combos that also result in improved stats. Many of these elements require specific items to upgrade, which necessitates either intense farming or spending real cash.
This absurd amount of improving, upgrading, and leveling even extends to equipment. Gear has item bonuses, meaning wearing multiple pieces in a set will give stat boosts. You can also salvage each piece of equipment for parts, which may then be used to upgrade other gear. Neither of these things are too unusual in an RPG. But piled on top of the already overly robust character customization, it just becomes a bit too much, especially when combined with the labyrinthine menus. It brings to mind that feeling when you’re at a laundromat, pushing quarters interminably into the coin slot to start your machine. No matter how much you toss in, you’ll have to do it again in a day or two as heroes gain levels and you acquire new gear.
May I Have Some More, Sir?
Seven Deadly Sins uses a card-based combat system. Your party consists of three members, each with three abilities like debuffs, AOEs, or counterattacks. The cards in your hand are randomized, and you can play three cards per turn. Each card has a star value and, when you play that card, those stars fill a meter beneath each character’s health bar. Once the meter fills, you can use the hero’s ultimate ability, which instantly kills most enemies.
This sounds great, but in practice it’s incredibly boring and repetitive. No matter which character or abilities I used, battles were always easy. Almost every enemy I fought was a pushover. Unlocking the ultimate ability was anticlimactic because enemies keeled over from even basic attacks. There was no need to strategize. It didn’t matter which cards the game randomly dealt me. And it made no difference if I chose to throw down a counterattack or debuff card. Battles always ended the same: I win.
Seven Deadly Sins also has a tavern that serves as a central hub for your party. You can upgrade it throughout the game (using special currency that you either farm or purchase of course). Certain characters encountered during the story show up to work or hang out there. Cooking in the tavern results in meals that you can gift to party members or eat before battle to boost stats. But I never found it necessary to buff myself before battles because, as I said, they were so unchallenging. So even this promising feature of the game ended up lackluster.
Despite my negative feelings for Seven Deadly Sins, I recognize that the game will appeal to many players, and not only fans of the anime. It has a lot to offer and isn’t a terrible game. It’s just not a brilliant one.
Is it Hardcore?
Seven Deadly Sins is an odd fish. Although I personally didn’t enjoy it, I recognize that it will appeal to many gamers. It has a lot to offer for a mobile RPG, enough to keep certain players entertained for many weeks or even months. It’s not a bad game; it’s just not a brilliant one.