How close is too close? Chinese game developer Darkstar Games is walking that line with their upcoming Souls-clone, Sinner. The game was announced at Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Asia’s ChinaJoy (yes that’s the name) 2017 press conference.

Officially uploaded assets are hard to come by, but this video has appeared, filming the gameplay from the screen at Sony’s on-floor booth..

As of now, the title is only due for a Chinese release, but that doesn’t rule out the potential for hitting other markets.

The animation and general design of the game is shockingly similar to Dark Souls. You even see large red font after defeat, imitating Dark Souls’ “YOU DIED” screen.

The art and especially backgrounds have a slightly different look to them. Closer to fantastical illustrations than the realistic 3D modeling of Souls.

Ethics of copying game design

Looking at a screenshot is enough to see how much inspiration the devs took from Dark Souls. Seeing it in action is even more apparent.

We’ve seen imitation in game development since its inception, and it will continue. But there should be an attempt to put any type of creative spin on the formula, otherwise it could be considered theft in the eyes of many.

The majority of Salt and Sanctuary’s design choices were directly taken from Souls. The basic gameplay rules were simply translated to 2D. The art was quite different and the 2D perspective added an emphasis on platforming that was never present in Souls. There were also a few other additions, like aligning with a religious group to receive different power-ups.

Salt and Sanctuary was far more unique than Sinners and I still questioned whether they were doing the right thing.

Stardew Valley is also incredibly similar to its muse, Harvest Moon. The developer created the clone after years of waiting for a classic Harvest Moon PC release.

Every time I see a young devs spending hundreds of hours on fan remakes of someone else’s property, I shake my head and wish they’d create their own tribute. That way we could play it, and they could potentially finance their next project.

What do you think of Sinners?