Smoke and Sacrifice review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PC
Publisher: Curve Digital
Developer: Solar Sail Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

There?s no question that Smoke and Sacrifice is one of the nicest-looking games I?ve played this year. It?s a hand-illustrated survival RPG with gothic, vaguely Eastern European influences, and it?s a pleasure to look at. I don?t usually go for dark and creepy, but this game is gorgeous enough that I?m able to overcome my biases and appreciate what?s going on.

What?s more, the great graphics are supported by a pretty interesting story about a mother living in a creepy agrarian dystopia where she was forced to sacrifice her son as part of some mandated ritual. Years later she discovers that there?s more to the world — and particularly their economic and labour system — than meets the eye, and that her son may still be alive, and everything goes from there. It?s an intriguing premise, and it?s easy to see how it could lend itself to a pretty compelling game.

Unfortunately, whether you think Smoke and Sacrifice succeeds at being compelling will depend on how much you enjoy grinding your way through survival RPGs. Or, more precisely, how much you like awkward crafting and boring combat, because this game features both in abundance.

Let?s start with the crafting. Rather than allowing you the luxury of a pause menu from which you select the item you?re trying to craft, here you have to cycle through the different desired tools and see how much slowly check how much of each item you have. And, of course, there?s everything that goes into crafting in the first place: lots (and lots, and lots) of gathering. If you?re the kind of person who enjoys scrounging for various flora and fauna, you may enjoy it, but I can?t say that I do.

Still, I?d argue the crafting is more interesting than the combat. After all, combat here basically consists of hitting enemies, running away to avoid the counterattack, and then hitting them again. No matter how realistic it may be in the content of a survival game, it gets pretty repetitive pretty quickly.

If you just want a game that looks nice, though, grinding your way through gathering materials and repetitive battles may be a fair price of admission. If that sounds fun to you — or, for that matter, if you look at the screenshots and figure that they?re worth whatever tedious gameplay the game may throw at you, then Smoke and Sacrifice may be worth investigating.

Curve Digital provided us with a Smoke and Sacrifice Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B