Namco Bandai has always been great at adapting anime into worthwhile video games, with games like the Naruto Ultimate Ninja series, One Piece Burning Blood, and all of the various Dragon Ball series over the years. They are usually very loyal to the source material and characters, and always make games that faithfully represent not only the series but even are able to maintain gameplay that somehow feels like it fits into the series. Their games usually feel good to play while also maintaining the style of the series they represent.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia is certainly a faithful recreation of the series it represents in a game format, but there are some odd choices in the design and execution that hold it back from really becoming a legendary start of a new series.
The roster is pretty diverse, spanning a huge selection of noteworthy characters from the first season of the anime and including, of course, The Seven Deadly Sins themselves. The roster felt complete for the first game the series has received and each character feels unique, although there are a few clone characters that I feel would have been better designated to skins rather than taking up a full slot.
Each character is divided between 3 categories: Strength, Agility, and Magic. Agility fighters are the median, they control well, have optimal combos and deal median damage. They have pretty fast attacks and usually limited ranged options however. I would describe them as rushdown characters as they are primarily used as combo fighters who deal the most damage through their combo chains. Strength characters are characters that are slow on the ground, they walk instead of running and have low combo potential but have huge amounts of armor and damage to compensate for it. Lastly there are the magic fighters; these characters are usually long ranged fighters that have a wealth of projectile options and whose normal attacks are even somewhat ranged from them. To compensate for this huge advantage, magic fighters use their magic bar for literally everything, from projectiles to regular attacks, so that they can’t freely spam their very strong options. The game appears to be very well balanced in its mechanics and gameplay and it’s very obvious that this was what the game was built around. My only complaint is that the magic gauge seems to take too long to charge back up and it leads to periods of high action that’s disturbed by periods of just standing there waiting to get your magic meter back. I think that perhaps for the next game they should separate the movement mechanics from the attacks so that you can still dash, dodge, and move without your magic meter. This is about my only gripe with the combat system though, as it seems to be really well made and is a lot of fun to play.
The game is an arena 3D fighter, the usual choice when it comes to properly representing action-adventure anime, and in terms of representing the action shown off in the anime and manga, it works well to properly imitate it. The controls are simple: square and triangle are both melee attacks, circle is a ranged projectile in most cases, and the X button acts like an action button, being used for jumping, dashing, and various movement options. By holding down the R1 button, you can also tap into the various “magic” attacks which use a significant amount of your magic bar (a stamina bar). Using various dashes, escapes, and magic attacks all drain your magic bar which then has a significant cooldown where you can’t really do much of anything while it’s charging. Your R2 button is your special move which would be more familiar to most people as a super, and is gained after you take a large amount of damage or deal a large amount of damage. This move deals a lot of damage if it hits, although some characters have supers that give them buffs rather than a damage dealing move. These moves can be comboed into, meaning you don’t have to worry about having to blindly throw them out and hope they will hit. And finally, L1 is your guard button, which allows you to block almost all attacks, but can be broken or taken advantage of if you use it too often. The controls are simple to learn but open up to a variety of ways to use them, leading to juggle combos, combos that link with magic attacks, and even combos into supers. It plays well and looks good and I think it’s the games strongest point, and certainly the thing that whole game was built around.
The graphics are fantastic as they mimic the anime’s art style ridiculously well, and the attack and particle effects are pretty top notch. The character models are detailed enough, but I think some of them were measured incorrectly judging by some of their heights not looking correct to me. There was also some very weird win animations that just looked awkward and didn’t really feel like the characters; the prime example would be Meliodas, who strikes a pose I have never really seen him do in the actual anime so it just looked out of place and awkward. Other than a few things that could be considered nitpicking, I can say the graphics of the characters and arenas are done very well with destructible environments to boot. You have areas that are from the entire first season of the anime, from the Forest of White Dreams all the way to the final battle against Henderson at the capital of Liones. The areas are varied but are a bit bare, with the only thing existing on them being destructible items meant to be shattered and destroyed in the battles.
The sound work for the game is done well; the character voices all sound correct, the sounds effects are accurate. However, the music isn’t anything super spectacular but it’s nothing that doesn’t fit the setting; it’s not necessarily bad but the soundtrack isn’t memorable. The character voices are from the Japanese cast of the anime, with English subtitles included for the US version of the game. The voice work sounds relatively the same from the anime, but it just doesn’t sound nearly as dynamic in their performances.
The game’s story is basically a retelling of the first season of the anime, with some missions just beyond that leading into events that would happen in the currently airing season 2. The story itself is told through basic text with some use of the game models to place in characters. It’s a shame it was done this way, because major scenes from the anime are sad, dramatic, or action filled. In the game, these scenes come off very stiff and awkward.
The voice actors basically say the same lines, but it’s not done with the emotional depth that was present in the actual scenes the game reproduces, and the character models don’t even reflect change in emotion either. You have character models standing there without moving, spouting lines as they stand stiffly in the same neutral position and it comes off really creepy and out of place. When you have amazing cutscenes and over the top effects with dramatic storytelling in something like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, it’s hard to excuse this. This was cheaply made.
Missions in the story mode are conducted by going to towns and setting up the Boar’s Hat. The missions seem to vary between fighting in a proper duel or against a bunch of non-threatening peons with the only reprieve being what I like to call reverse escort missions with Elizabeth and Hawk where you gather materials as Elizabeth and have Hawk attack enemies to defend you. Story missions and side quests in town can be repeated anytime you go back to a specific town, which makes sense, but there are also field missions that break this rule.
Field missions appear randomly and when you do one, they disappear until you do other field missions that make them pop up again. This wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t a trophy in the game for getting an S rank in all missions, which becomes a pain if these missions disappear without getting an S rank. Why missions don’t stay where they are located is a mystery to me, as none of them overlap on the map. It seems like a weird choice and there are just too many of them all over the place and no way to even check which missions you might be missing outside of going to them all individually.It’s frustrating and tedious and drags down the experience as the game seems to drag on, giving you mission after mission of kill this, kill that, kill these over and over again.
The combat simply can’t save the monotony. The story hits all the major points of a story mode but it doesn’t hit them particularly well. The only other mode is a battle mode that is pretty barebones.
At the end of it all, Knights of Britannia is a faithful translation of The Seven Deadly Sins series into game format, There is only the foundation of a great fighting game than a whole house, and the mindless filler only hurts the excellent battle system and graphics.