The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia Review — A Sin in and of Itself
The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia manages to be one of the most disappointing anime fighters I've played in recent memory.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia feels like it’s a relic from another time. A time when the PlayStation brand had a whole slew of sub-par or average anime titles from a variety of popular series like Samurai Champloo, Yu Yu Hakusho, Naruto, One Piece, and Full Metal Alchemist. You could name just about any anime that aired in the United States in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and it probably has a licensed PS2 game.
If you’re unfamiliar with the source material, The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia tells the story of season one and two of the anime. A young princess named Elizabeth escapes Liones Kingdom (located in Britannia) after a group known as the Holy Knights takes over. She seeks out the help of the Seven Deadly Sins and eventually stumbles upon a place called the Boar’s Hat, where she finds Meliodas — the leader of the Seven Deadly Sins. They ultimately both head out together to find the other remaining members.
Fans of The Seven Deadly Sins anime series will be disappointed to hear that cutscenes play out with stagnant character models and some ugly lip-syncing. The character models themselves look fine, and there’s actually a couple of locations in the game that I did enjoy, although some are far worse than others due to the game’s camera getting in the way of the action in tighter spaces. Destructible environments are also included, and they give Knights of Britannia a bit more of the flashy anime feel that you want in these games.
I’d definitely say the games plays mostly like a fighter similar to the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series although it manages to play a lot worse than those games. Gameplay in The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia doesn’t feel so great. The gameplay’s alright in a one-on-one match or two-on-two, but it’s at its worst when it throws a bunch of enemies at you. It’s hard to hit mobs when attacks are meant for one or two characters. The game beats this issue though by being really easy, but therein lies another problem. You can get through this game by mashing the same button on a good amount of the quests — on others there’s usually a significant difficulty spike that never really feels artificial.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia offers players two different game modes: an adventure mode and one that focuses on dueling. I’ll start with adventure mode since it’s required for you to unlock most of the roster in dueling mode. It does take a fair amount of time to unlock them all, and there’s a ton of things to do when the story ends.
Adventure mode focuses on two things, traveling around the map and completing a bunch of quests revolving around the story from the manga and anime. There are also a couple of different side quests that’ll put you up against various hordes of enemies as well as giant bosses. The most varied of these side quests have you playing as Elizabeth while she tries to gather supplies while also avoiding enemies, you get Hawk as a companion, and he’ll take care of the foes around you since Elizabeth cannot attack.
Short, poorly-animated cutscenes play before each story quest. As I mentioned before, characters usually stand stagnant in place accompanied by some of the worst lip-syncing I’ve seen in a long while. The best animation is actually found watching the Sins themselves interacting with one another before quests inside the Boar’s Hat, and during these brief moments, their personalities really shine. I think it’s also worth mentioning that the game only offers Japanese audio, which is fine. But what isn’t okay is the fact that sometimes subtitles don’t show up during missions. It’s just incredibly lazy on the translation team’s part and sucks for players. There’s also a secret boss towards the end that offers a gameplay experience different to anything else included in the game, but it ends up being one of the worst boss battles I’ve played in years.
There are also some RPG mechanics thrown into Adventure mode. There’s an upgrade tree that’ll grant you various buffs and equipment. These upgrades will be a necessity for completionists, as it’s incredibly difficult to get “S” rank on some missions without them. You can also get upgrades for the Boar’s Hat, the vehicle you use to get across the game world; you can eventually move faster, fly, and travel over shallow bodies of water. Ultimately, there’s nothing here we haven’t seen in other titles, but it’s enough added content that should appease those who want to get as much out of the game as possible. You’ll also need to upgrade the Boar’s Hat if you plan on unlocking everything in the game.
Dueling mode offers players local or online play. You can fight in one-on-one matches or two-on-two and, in my opinion, the developer should’ve made it so that these were the sole focus of the game. Fighting multiple enemies in adventure mode can be annoying due to the targeting system, not to mention the controls can feel unresponsive at times and often irritating to work with. This makes it feel like the developers were unsure whether or not they wanted the title to feel more like a hack-and-slash game or a dedicated fighter. You use the right analog stick to change targets, but it happens so fast that when you’re fighting upwards of 10 to 20 enemies at once, targeting can cause more frustration than anything else.
The only saving grace, if you could even call it that, is how simple it is to pull off combos. You can either mash square or mix things up by occasionally pressing triangle or circle during your combos. There’s also a couple of spells given to each character, but they’re inherently useless when a standard combo is ultimately more efficient and dishes out more damage.
Even with its simplistic control scheme, The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia can manage to feel confusing at times. There’s a second bar underneath your health that acts as a stamina/magic bar; it’s unclear to me exactly how it works as sometimes it would run out and my character would be unable to attack but other times it would run out for other characters and they could continue attacking. This frustrated me as it could completely halt the flow of action.
I mentioned the controls can also feel unresponsive at times. As an example, let’s say you’re fighting a cooperative battle or perhaps a two on one fight. A character might come up behind you and rather than using the left analog stick to turn around, you’ll press it and you just won’t move at all. In another example, you might expect to change targets and immediately start doing combos on the character you now have targeted but you’ll continue throwing punch in the wrong direction resulting in so much frustration. Where game series like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm and Dragon Ball Xenoverse have done relatively well with capturing the fast fluidity of their respective anime from an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective, Knights of Britannia falls flat on its face in comparison.
There’s fun to be had with friends in the local game modes but I’d say stay as far away as you can from online — especially if you’re looking for a more balanced, coherent experience. The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia manages to feel so clunky in 2018 I couldn’t help but compare it to PS2 titles that also offered similarly clunky experiences. The main difference is back then, the sloppy gameplay was more charming as these niche anime series didn’t often get the gaming spotlight, in 2018 though it’s more mentally painful than it is charming.
As for the cast, the game offers pretty much every notable face from the series. There’s a slew of different character types making it so each one feels relatively unique compared to the other. Each character is also given different special attacks as well as an ultimate attack although they manage to feel lackluster compared to other anime titles with similar offerings. Also, while the anime managed to offer a soundtrack that elevated the series’ sense of adventure, the soundtrack in Knights of Britannia manages to be as generic as they come. It would’ve been nice to hear some of the opening themes or endings fans of the series heard in the show. The ending theme from season one that was done by Flow and Grandrodeo is still one of my favorite endings to any anime (check it out down below).
It’s sad when a video game title based on an anime/manga series is unable to capture the magic and fluidity fans of said series rightfully expect. Unfortunately, The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia manages to disappoint in just about every category and fails at capturing just about anything that makes the series memorable. If you’ve been itching to have a go at this game, I’d recommend that you just wait for a price drop. Unfortunately, I can’t say that The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia will be as fondly remembered as many of the older anime games that came before it.