One of the great things about our Summer Pwnage events, besides bringing gamers of all sorts together, is that it gives local game developers a chance to show off their latest creations to a target audience. Quite often, these games are still under development and are presented well before public release. Such was the case in July 2011, when Jamie McCarter of Toxic Blob brought the latest build of his upcoming iPad game, Sin or Win to our second event of the summer. Unfortunately I didn’t have an opportunity to try it, but Mathew and Warren took it for a test drive. First impressions were extremely positive as Warren noted that the game was, “possibly as addictive as Angry Birds.”
Based on those initial impressions and having just picked up an iPad 2 in November, I jumped at the chance to review it!
The game’s hook, like many other successful iOS games, involves an ‘easy to grasp yet tough to master’ mechanic. Simple yet surprisingly addictive! In Sin or Win, you play a god-like being. With a flick of your finger you hurl an endless supply of hapless cavemen into the sky as they’re being ushered to a fiery demise by two skeletons doing their master’s (Satan) bidding. The game’s shtick revolves around the player’s decision to direct each caveman onto a cloud hovering in the sky and letting them ascend safely to heaven or simply allow them to drop into the Pit of Hell, turning them into crispy corpses. Here’s the catch, however: neither decision is right or wrong! How’s this? You accumulate points for both ways of playing, that is, saving the poor cavemen or letting them perish. If you decide to save the cavemen by flinging them onto a fluffy cloud, you’ll be awarded ‘winner’ points. If you let them fall into the pit, you’ll be awarded ‘sinner’ points instead. The best way I can describe the scoring is like a tug of war. Regardless of how you play during a game, your score will be back and forth a bit as you accumulate positive points for saving the cavemen and negative points for killing them or otherwise letting them die. If you have a positive score at the end of the game, then it’s counted as a Winner’s score and if you have a negative score at the end then it’s counted as a Sinner’s score.
How exactly does the game end? Each time a caveman falls into the pit, it fills up a bit with bones. Fill the pit and the game is over. So how are you suppose to play the game as a sinner if you’re trying to fling cavemen into the pit? Well, you can lower the bone level by way of another game element. While all the poor cavemen are soaring helplessly through the air, Satan (looking very businessman-like) keeps a watchful eye on things, and when the sun goes down he unleashes a creature or element designed to kill the cavemen. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you’re playing the game. Elements include bombs attached to balloons or a storm cloud that will zap any nearby cavemen with lightning. Creatures include UFOs (which, again, zap any nearby cavemen) and dragons. Dragons attempt to land on the ‘heaven’ cloud and breath fire on nearby cavemen. However, the dragon also has an important benefit: you can direct it down towards the pit and it will lower the bone level a bit.
Sin or Win is a wonderfully simple concept and and it pulls it off very well. Being able to play two different ways really alters the overall strategy and discovering new ways of scoring big points and extending gameplay is rewarding! It takes few games to get the knack down, but once you learn how things behave, you’ll be racking up the score in no time!
Graphics and Sound
The game’s single level features crisp and colourful graphics with the entire palette shifting appropriately when day becomes night. I absolutely love the ‘cartoony’ feel of the game as well as how each character is animated. It’s definitely got some charm to it. The look on the cavemen’s faces as they begin plummeting towards the pit is great!
As indicated in the ‘about’ section of the game, the sound effects were obtained via The Free Sound Project. They are very well recorded and fit the on-screen action perfectly. The game’s music consists of a single tribal tune that is very catchy!
Sin or Win is an easy recommendation. For just $2 you get a great game with this wonderfully polished product. There’s already been one update to address some minor bugs and more updates are planned to include more features! It’s incredible what Jamie has been able to accomplish with developing this game single-handed! Definitely check it out!
The GAMES DAY Podcast received this game at no charge for review purposes.