I haven’t played a pixel game in ages, though this genre certainly hasn’t gone out of style, as we’ve seen with games such as the fairly recent RPG Stardew Valley. There’s a certain appeal to games with simple graphics, something charming and nostalgic that takes people back in time. Pecaminosa is one of those games that sets players in an era full of familiar tropes. These include a disgraced detective turned alcoholic with a troubled past, a mustachioed Italian mob boss who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, dimly-lit nightclubs with blonde bombshells, and, of course, a dark city landscape full of outlaws.
One of the first things that stood out to me in Pecaminosa is the original soundtrack. The jazzy sound of a piano playing in the background reflecting the somber atmosphere of this pixel noir game nicely.
In this escapade, John Souza is the protagonist, an ex-detective whose first mission is to find a gun. Nothing too crazy there. As you interact with other characters and read the dialogue boxes, you’re directed around the city using simple keyboard controls and gradually gain experience and items for your inventory. Pecaminosa doesn’t an actual tutorial, and this is something that I like. You’re immediately immersed in the game, and the story seamlessly progresses as you explore different buildings and complete various tasks.
As you complete Pecaminosa‘s different missions, you gain skills. These attributes include luck, intelligence, force, and endurance, and all of them come in handy. Usefully, you also have control over how these skills are assigned to John. Perhaps you’re more interested in combat and prefer having as much force as possible. If you’re more into negotiations, intelligence might be the way to go. This makes for a unique gaming experience and determines how John behaves in different scenarios.
Overall, the controls in Pecaminosa are fairly intuitive, though I found engaging in combat a bit of a struggle as you have to make sure you aim precisely with your mouse. At first, John can only fistfight, which isn’t particularly difficult but timing is important. Each punch deals a fair amount of damage to your opponent but it’s important to defend yourself as you regain stamina. I was still getting accustomed to the controls when I almost got beaten to death by one of the easiest characters to fight. Thankfully, I had saved my game moments before. Just remember that the typewriters you stumble upon throughout your game are literal lifesavers. These are your checkpoints. Take advantage of them.
The narrative in Pecaminosa progresses quickly and flashing blue icons on the map show you where you need to travel next. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to explore. The gameplay is very linear and following directions is the only way that you can advance the story. I suppose you could hunt down all the trash bags lying around the city and punch them until they’re destroyed. There’s a chance you might find some Mack Janiel’s or some coins if you’re really lucky. Personally, I like to explore so if you’re more into open-world RPGs this game possibly won’t be for you.
It didn’t take long for me to get into my first shoot-out in The Docks. It wasn’t too intense but after killing a couple of guys I suddenly had two coming at me from different directions. Death was inevitable and I watched John’s body explode into multiple pixelated pieces. Now that I’m more familiar with the combat mechanics, I feel like I could confidently go back into The Docks and take care of those enemies with no issues.
All in all, if you’re looking for something that feels like a throwback, a little sentimental, and a little sinful you could do far worse than to check out Pecaminosa.
Gameplay - 7.5/10
Plot / Writing - 7/10
Design / Visuals - 8/10
+ Beautiful stylized artwork paired nicely with a compelling narrative.
+ Fun mix of mini-missions and simple combat mechanics
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