Ark of Sinners Advance is a game that very desperately wants to fill your Metroidvania needs, and it has elements in place to seemingly make it work. It has an appealing art style, huge levels to explore, and lots of combat options. Unfortunately, none of these components add up to anything interesting, and we ended up wondering why a game that started out its life as a critically savaged Wii-Verse title from two years ago would get ported to iOS without fixing at least some of the things that made the console version so very, very terrible.
From the very beginning, we got a whiff of trouble. The story, which finds our heroine Celia lost in a mysterious city, is filled with nonsensical Anime claptrap and is told through a series of boring and silly cutscenes that had us rolling our eyes so much we started to get a headache. The developers may have thought they were making something dark and mysterious and intriguing, but to us it just felt like an episode of Pokemon with a dominatrix instead of Pikachu.
We could even handle a ridiculous storyline if the gameplay was any good, but Ark of Sinners seems hellbent on making you hate yourself for spending your three bucks. The controls are slow and barely responsive. When Celia jumps, she floats in long arcs with very little control, so any kind of precision you may require simply isn’t going to happen. And this is a problem in a game that’s filled with pits you need to jump over, countless platforms you need to navigate and enemies you need to battle. You honestly might have better luck aiming for the things you’re trying to avoid.
Combat is so bad that you might as well not even bother doing anything other than mashing the action buttons with a mallet and hoping for the best. Celia’s sluggishness, combined with buttons that are barely functional and badly placed, means that success is largely based on luck rather than skill. You can spend points you earn in the game to purchase combos to do in combat, but you might not as well not even bother seeing as how your ability to pull them off with any degree of regularity is hampered by the fact that Celia is aggressively unresponsive.
When enemies (which are numerous) hit Celia (which occurs often), they tend to send her careening clear across the screen. Most of the time she’ll get launched into other enemies or pits of death. Either way, you’re gonna have a bad time. And if Celia actually does manage to stay on the screen after being hit (which usually only happens because of the artificial barriers the game likes to pop up) then her lackadaisical attitude to doing anything, like standing up for example, will usually result in her getting trapped in a corner to get pummeled again and again. Enemies also respawn, so if for some reason you go back to an area you barely survived (because, lets say, another enemy knocked you back to that area), you’re in for a treat. Wash, rinse, die, repeat.
The game also has one of the most obnoxious cameras we’ve ever encountered in a game. It has a tendency to swoosh over quickly in the direction that Celia is running, and this causes enemies, dangerous pits and platforms she needs to jump on to get obscured by objects in the foreground.
We find it kind of inconceivable that anyone thought porting Ark of Sinners would be a good idea. But hey, if you’re going to port over a game, why not do one that’s almost universally hated? You’ve got nowhere to go but up, right? The parties responsible have eschewed any sense of logic with this release and have brought a game to iOS that’s an unplayable, boring, senseless, almost careless mess of a game.