Smoke and Sacrifice (Review) Xbox One

Smoke and Sacrifice (Review) Xbox One
Review Score:

Hello one and all, my fellow gamers.  So I have an interesting question to ask all of you.  Have you ever felt like you have played a particular game — or type of game — before, but yet there is something different about it at the same time, that it adds a level of uniqueness to it?  That’s what Curve Digital’s entry, “Smoke And Sacrifice”, had me feeling…in a good way, naturally.
This interesting action/adventure/RPG-infused survival title introduces us to the world of Sachi and her home land, which is this tiny fertile area that remains in an icy wasteland.  In turn, Sachi’s farming community thrives as a result, thanks to everyone’s devotion to the forever blazing Sun Tree, which replaces the lost light of the failed sun.  As part of a ritual ceremony for the Sun Tree, Sachi is forced to sacrifice her firstborn son, only to then embark on a quest in the grotesque underworld below, that’s to lead her to a deeper, darker truth.  “Smoke And Sacrifice” is an open world, narrative-heavy adventure romp, where crafting, fighting, and exploring are your keys to survival, and where each character has their own story to tell.  Craft, fight, survive and explore the huge open world in this beautifully hand-painted, gothic adventure where every character has their tale to tell.

 On the graphics end, this game has a hand-painted look to it, which I love.  And the landscape is 3D, while the characters and monsters are in 2D.  The towns and biomes, however, are shuffled around enough, despite that their variety is fairly limited — by the time you get to the closing stages of the story though, you’ll be wanting that fresh scenery and something a little less dingy.  As for the sounds, they are minimal, which is fine for this game; the background music is a nice touch, and is honestly a perfect fit. The controls are very simple and straightforward enough, without being complicated.
I found the gameplay to be very intriguing and tasking, right off the bat.  When you start the game, the only way to survive is by using a magic lantern that temporarily parts the fog enough for you to fight and explore safely for the most part, and you’ll also discover that for the first half of each game ‘day’, the world is bathed in that fog that will poison Sachi on contact.  However, just like with say “Minecraft”, your tools don’t last forever, and each time you use one, it brings it a step closer to breakage.  Of course to prevent that, you can always craft a new tool if you have the right parts or if they are nearby for you to easily collect/gather, but it’s so much easier to repair it.  Keep in mind though that while repairing requires fewer ingredients and less arduous hunting around, it’s not always easy to catch the necessary items in time to mend them.  For example, when you’re fumbling around in combat or are focused on a quest, it’s very easy to neglect key pieces of equipment, and doing so at the wrong time can be deadly. 

Another thing you’ll notice, is that food in your inventory decays over time.  Each ingredient has a power bar that gradually reduces, thus giving you a limited amount of time to craft something before the bar flashes red and the item disappears.  For your common organic objects, that’s not really a big deal, but when a super-rare item suddenly breaks, it can lead to the kind of frustration that overpowers what you’re doing for fun.  Have no fear, though — perishable foods can be combined and cooked, which very effectively preserves them for as long as you need.  Additionally, you can also store individual ingredients in a chest, which achieves a similar effect, but it can be rather cumbersome if you’re stuck out in a field far away from a village or base camp.
As far as problems go, some issues can be found during combat.  As you’re playing a 2D character in a 3D environment, it can sometimes be hard to tell when you’re lined up with an enemy to take a swing and do effective damage.  It’s not that combat is particularly tough or anything, but it does make the whole “wandering-around-while-killing-things” feel somewhat clumsier than what you would prefer or may be even used to.  S&S definitely keeps you on your toes at all times, by forcing you to stay constantly focused — the usual reason for things getting out of hand, is that you’ve accidentally allowed something important to break during combat or being totally into a quest.  Losing a key piece of equipment can really set you back majorly, forcing you to backtrack to search for crafting ingredients that can only be found in areas you had left behind long ago.  So basically since your needs for survival are constant, the crafting cycles literally do obstruct your progress when you’d rather just get on with the story and see what’s next.

Problems aside, S&Sis a very absorbing, albeit unusual, game of its type.  The story alone is compelling and hooks you right in immediately, without warning.  And there’s no need for a tutorial here, as the narration leads you in mighty nicely.  The visuals are attractive as well; just remember though that as one might expect in an underworld, it’s not exactly a vibrant colored paradise, which isn’t terribly easy on the eyes, but yet it still stays with the narrative.  The world itself does have a very developed and meaningful ecology, and there will be moments when you witness monsters breeding and having babies, or hunting and killing prey animals.  The latter you can certainly use to your advantage, by hitting one enemy into another and letting them actually do the dirty work for you, hereby saving your energy bar and the integrity of your weapons and armor.
All in all, a very solid entry I would say. While yes it’s another survival game, it’s the story that helps it stand out from the others.  I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who’s in the mood for something different.
Sean Boley
Platform: Xbox One
Developer:  Solar Sail Games
Publisher:  Curve Digital
ESRB:  E10+
Price:  $19.99

Smoke and Sacrifice Official Website:

Review Score
Nicely done hand painted visuals; 2D characters in a 3D world.
Average and minimal, but well placed.
Exploring, crafting, fighting, awesome story…oh my!
An unusual, yet very likable game worth playing.

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