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Almost every game’s main objective is to avoid death. The Sin and Punishment series is also about staying alive, but it also proves just how futile that objective really is.
No matter what, everyone’s character will inevitably die in Sin and Punishment. Even perfectionists will see the “game over” screen because this title ramps the difficulty to extreme levels of disbelief. In many ways, the shooter seems more like a visual representation of Buddhist philosophy. People have no choice but to accept the fate of death, no matter how painful it looks on the screen.
The story of the series also places its own spin on the futility of death. Starting with the very first release on the Nintendo 64, the main characters face insurmountable odds. They have to shoot nearly everything on the screen, from soldiers to weird aliens known as Ruffians. In spite of all their efforts, one of the characters, Saki, transforms into a giant apocalyptic beast.
His best friend, Iren, also faces a heart-wrenching vision of the future while she is trying to save Saki. In this strange section of the game, Iren sees Saki unleash his violent rage against the world. While riding a New York subway train with her son Isa, Saki destroys the city above.
The Wii sequel, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, revisits this doomsday scenario in a flashback sequence. Even though Saki destroyed most of Earth-4, Iren reassures Isa that her husband Saki was still a good person in spite of his uncontrollable anguish. The sequel also turns this story on its head when Isa saves an innocent girl.
The Creators in Inner Space assigned Isa to kill this girl, who is supposedly an invading spy from Outer Space. However, Isa can’t resist saving such an innocent face. Isa instead teams up with the girl, Kachi, to help her escape her death sentence.
The game has a very powerful ending, complete with gigantic bosses and Isa’s desperate effort at the end to save Kachi. In spite of the moving conclusion, Kachi throws a curveball once players complete the "Isa and Kachi" mode. After Isa saves Kachi’s life and floats back down to Earth, Kachi reveals that she really isn’t as innocent as she appears.
Sin and Punishment is more than a simple game about surviving against all odds. It is a strange epic that never provides easy answers to anything. Everyone will inevitably die out, no matter how hard they fight their fates. Thus, perhaps it’s better for people to live life to the fullest and enjoy it before time runs out.
Everyone inevitably sins, but they will always leave legacies that show off the best points of their lives. Sin and Punishment proves that even sinister aliens have a good side to them if people are willing to see it.
Are there any other compelling games with a life-and-death scenario similar to Sin and Punishment? If so, how do they prove that video games are more than just genocidal thrillers? How can these offerings prove that there is more to existence than simply surviving and killing?