I like a noir game. Gritty cop stories set in a dingy, crime-riddled town where the main character is a quick-witted dick with justice on his mind is just so appealing to me. In my experience, these games usually stick to being things like simple point and click adventures, but Pecaminosa is a noir game that plays as an action RPG, giving you the ability to roam and explore the environments as you please.
It’s the ability to roam around that I find most enjoyable in Pecaminosa. The town gives off a vibe of being dodgy, and there are plenty of shops and houses that you can enter and look around which also give off a slightly shabby, run-down and overall uneasy impression to them. There’s even the stereotypical dock where there are a bunch of henchmen ready to knife you and even a couple of diseased rats that can infect you with their venomous bites.
Combat is fairly fun too, whether you’re using fists or bullets, you can always try to carve out a decent strategy to take down whatever faces you, and to begin with there are some fairly fun bosses to take on too. I was quite impressed that punching is a viable strategy for the game, because the game does try to make the gun “mean” something to the main character, even if they quickly replace it. I did my best to just dodge projectiles and run up and punch enemies or bosses as best I could. Sadly, I’m not very good at the game, so I did fall back on the crutch of a tommy gun pretty quickly, but it was nice to know that if I had any sort of skill then I could’ve persisted with punching!
There are some parts of Pecaminosa that genuinely baffle me. At the start it seems to try to be a gritty cop story where you’re trying to banish your inner demons, but within about an hour of gameplay you’re off fighting against hordes of giant spiders, weird zombie-like creatures or mutants that have a face as a torso and spit venom at you. You’ll even begin the game in a crime-riddled city, with everlasting night and plenty of dodgy characters around, but when you hit chapter two, you’re roaming around the bright, sunny desert on your way to some crime lords hideout, where he’s shacked up with a couple of demons. It is just pure lunacy and while I could potentially have enjoyed the game had it stuck to the first part, I was so taken out of it by chapter two it became a grind – and not a fun one.
The fun gets really sapped out of the game in chapter two as well. Not just from an immersion perspective, but the game starts out fairly easy, plentiful ammo and lots of chips to find so you can buy health restoring items, and then you get to chapter two. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a humungous spike in difficulty in a game before as you’ll get in Pecaminosa. The first part, in the town centre, was challenging for someone who isn’t great at these types of games but was still fun to play. Boss battles were a bit spongey and lasted longer than I would have thought they should, but overall they were pretty fun. Contrast to the desert, and then the mansion when you get there. Plentiful trash mobs that take a few too many shots to kill, then a boss that was legitimately the hardest boss I’ve ever fought, with tactics that didn’t seem entirely fair. I gave it a good effort, probably a dozen or so attempts, but after about four or five minutes, he’d kill me every time, and his health was barely beneath half which just massively turned me off.
Writing a character is a tough job, I appreciate that, but I really couldn’t stand the main character in this game. He’s a caricature of everything that an edgy teen would think the noir genre is about, and every time he opened his mouth it was another tired cliché, or a banal point that I couldn’t be bothered to read. In fact, after the first hour or so of gameplay, I stopped reading. None of the conversations or interactions up to that point had given me any indication that it’d be worth spending time reading it, so I just gave up with it and hammered through, hoping that the gameplay would be solid enough to see me through the experience.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. I didn’t enjoy Pecaminosa very much. Graphically the game was alright, spritework was particularly strong, but even the mildly fun gameplay couldn’t save it from the major issues around the writing as a whole and the ridiculous difficulty spike. It’s definitely not a game I’ll be making a hasty return to, because even if the devs iron out the difficulty spike, the main character is still a prime chump who I just cannot stand.