Adapting a popular manga and anime into a mobile game isn’t a straightforward task. There’s always the very palpable risk of disappointing longtime fans and failing to please gamers, despite the best efforts to deliver a faithful game. Clearly bolstered by its latest successes, Netmarble stepped up to the task and The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross is going down in history not as a new kind of deadly sin, but as a remarkable and enjoyable anime RPG experience.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross tells the story of Meliodas, the leader of a band of knights. This warrior of short stature but tall courage and wit is going to be a frequent onscreen presence, but he won’t be the only one. You can control several of his friends during the exploration stages, but when the turn-based combat comes into play, you can pick your favorite characters without any restrictions most of the time.
The combination of village exploration, card combat, and extreme cooking (you read that right) results in a fun, heavily story-driven game that everyone is bound to enjoy. Personally, I haven’t heard of the manga or the anime before, and I’m having a blast following Meliodas, Elizabeth, Hawk, Diane, and others around Britannia. The way that Meliodas greets his old buddy Ban is one for the history books of video games – instead of the traditional compliment, they engage in an epic battle for old times’ sake. Boys will be boys, as Diane would say.
Cooking the Fate of Britannia | The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross Review
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross isn’t an open world RPG, instead featuring three distinct styles of play that fit together to form the big picture. You have the world map for each chapter, where your team roams around on the back of Hawk Mama, a giant pig that serves as transportation; you explore the villages and help out the dwellers with any tasks, increasing your friendship rating in the process; finally, the turn-based combat ties the package with its collectible card game elements and simple but interesting core mechanics.
The majority of the game is devoted to combat, with dozens of characters to pick for your 3-man team. While the story sometimes requires you to choose or ignore a certain character, you are often free to pick whoever you wish to, within the knowledge that the rarest cards and higher stats are always going to be at the forefront of your selection.
Each character has a few cards with different skills and buffs. You begin each battle with seven cards randomly chosen from your active heroes, and a choice of three moves. There is a color-coded rock-paper-scissors system at work, but you can also make stronger attacks if you create higher-rank cards. When two identical cards are side by side, they merge into a superior card – for example, two 1-star cards change into one 2-star cards, and you can follow suit to obtain a 3-star card.
There are a few ways to do this without destroying your finely planned strategy. You can play a card that is sitting in the middle of two identical cards, consequently allowing them to merge, or you can shift the cards around to combine into a better unit, although this tactic is going to count as one move. This method is mostly worth it in the end, as the attack or buff pays off entirely.
With ultimate moves and target selection, this is a clever combat system where the combination of tactics and the strengths of your heroes result in a myriad of outcomes that the best players will want to master.
You unlock heroes through progress and you surely won’t miss out on the most appealing faces. Diane is bound to become a fan favorite, with her huge stature making for an impressive contrast with Meliodas, while the cute Elizabeth and the grumpy pig Hawk make quite a funny and charming pair. However, you can unlock additional heroes via the game’s gacha, a recurrent mobile system that is known for pushing players to reach out for their wallets. You get regular free draws, but it’s not surprising to find that the best-ranked heroes can only be attained if you go for the paid gacha. While you can enjoy The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross without spending money, I strongly dislike the option where you can watch a video ad to earn a gacha draw. It feels out of place in such a polished and compelling RPG – this approach should remain where it is often found: cheap casual games.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross doesn’t excel in any specific area of its gameplay. However, it is an utterly enjoyable and fun experience where every piece seems to fit perfectly together. The turn-based combat system is ingenious and while it comes with an auto option, not once I have felt the need to use it. I prefer creating my own combos and attacks without leaving anything to luck – or AI, in such case.
Exploring the villages and chatting with the inhabitants is engaging, especially when you discover a brand-new location. Since there are a few tasks to accomplish in these areas, such as punching bugs in the face, destroying rocks, or gathering ingredients for your cooking, there is plenty to do before moving on to the next quest.
The world map is divided into chapters, but you’re not stuck with the main storyline. You’ll stumble upon optional quests that expand the game’s lifespan and add some spice to the adventure, not to mention some cool rewards.
Finally, there is the cooking aspect of the game, a quite unexpected detour for your heroes but a savory one considering that Hawk Mama carries the Boar Hat Tavern on her back everywhere the team wanders. You can get information from customers as you cook their food, serve drinks, and clean up the tables after they leave. It’s a nice little touch that is meant to expand on the world of the manga and provides a distraction for when you are becoming weary of the combat.
Ultimately, this is a game about collecting heroes and upgrading them, in order to face the increasingly tough enemies. Enhancing, using equipment, evolving, and other strategies are available to strengthen your team, a time-consuming task that is lessened by the entertainment that the game provides.
I’m a bit on the fence about the originality of The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross’ combat system, because we’ve seen RPGs with CCG mechanics several times, but somehow this one doesn’t feel trite. It’s simple but functional and has enough merit as to not feel like a rehash of many other games. As for the rest of this RPG, the tavern is an interesting addition but far from a game-changing feature. This is a game where all the pieces gel, but nothing about it is remotely groundbreaking.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross isn’t an MMO, but there are some multiplayer activities to complement the solo campaign. There is a neat arena for 1v1 PvP matches with real-time action, none of the misleading asynchronous matchmaking that many mobile games use as an easy way out. There is also cooperative content for two players to enjoy, with activities such as defeating massive demons before the timer runs out.
Despite the multiplayer offering, this is clearly an extra added into a game focused around its gripping single player campaign.
Graphics / Sound: 8/10
It’s remarkable how far mobile games have come in the last few years. From bloated shovelware plagued with shameless monetization schemes to actual games with high production values and polish, we are finally witnessing a much-needed change. The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross is one of the good examples of this progress, if we manage to ignore the unfortunate inclusion of the “watch ad” option into the gacha.
This game is a living and breathing anime, with stunning character detail and animation. The work gone into making sure that the cast is faithful to the original work is nothing short of impressive, and if there is one thing that we regret is the fixed portrait perspective. Having previously seen the game run on landscape mode thanks to some sorcery and wit carried out by cunning players, I can safely say that it would greatly benefit from an expanded view. Alas, I can’t find any option of the sort in the official launch.
However, this is a minor niggle in such a beautiful game. There are dozens of cutscenes that are a pleasure to watch and it’s likely that they will tickle your funny bone, either if you’re a fan or not.
There isn’t much to complain about the music and sound effects as well, with the original voice actors providing a characteristic delivery in Japanese. The over the top reactions and intense shouting add to the flair of the game, with not a monotonous moment in sight.
Value for Money: 8/10
With a gacha peeking around the corner, it’s safe to assume that The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross is staring down at your wallet. However, it is a tremendously pleasant game where you aren’t forced to pay up at all. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had without spending a dime, but I can see many players trying to get a few of the most distinctive heroes while supporting the game at the same time.
As far as anime adaptations go, this is one of the best currently available on Android and iOS. It treats the original work with paramount respect and delivers an experience that is hugely enjoyable even if you haven’t heard about the manga. There’s a remarkable chemistry between the lead characters and the countless cutscenes provide many minutes of entertainment that work as a wonderful support for the game’s triad: exploration, turn-based strategy, and cooking. I may be overstating the importance of cooking here, so feel free to replace it with hero collecting. Nonetheless, here is an anime RPG that everyone is bound to enjoy.
Cunning turn-based combat with CCG elements
Stunning anime graphics and many cutscenes
Dozens of collectable heroes
Co-op and PvP extras
Watch ad to gain free gacha draw
Limited multiplayer mode