Soul Sacrifice

Published on July 1st, 2013

The PSVita certainly hasn’t had a great start; with its launch line up mostly consisting of ports followed by a big dry spell and low system sales…we Vita owners needed a hero.  Fear not however our hero has come in the form of Kenji Inafune, the man behind games like Dead Rising and Lost Planet.  He brings with him Soul Sacrifice a game heralded as the Vita’s saviour, but is it the game we deserve or not the one we need right now

You begin as a faceless, voiceless mage imprisoned in a bone cage in the middle of a post apocalyptic hellscape. This terrible place is ruled by a sorcerer named Magusar and after he sacrifices one of your fellow prisoners; you stumble upon Librom, a talking book. It is through reading Librom you relive the memories of Magusars former partner and try to discover how it all lead up to this apocalypse scenario.

Right off the bat Soul sacrifice presents a very dark and depressing aesthetic, a mixture of Monster Hunter mixed with dark souls.  Soul Sacrifice does feels very oppressive at times but not without reason since everything has a genuinely interesting story behind it. Bosses, Stages and even the lowly enemies have their own back stories; giving this dark world that a layer of personality that allows you see everything in a different light. Story is played though text and well done voice over which gave it a nice H.P Lovecraft Necronomicon feel.

 If you have ever played a Monster hunter game this game will seem familiar and while comparisons between this and Monster Hunter will be raised, they are only similar at a surface level. Soul Sacrifice, like Monster Hunter is all about fighting monsters or as they are known here Archfiends. Selecting from a list of missions you fight monsters, collect new offerings (spells) and defeat harder monsters. Offerings are your bread and butter you can equip up to six; each are mapped to 3 face buttons and a simple tap of the R button allows you switch to the other three. You can also fuse duplicate offerings to create more powerful versions or combine them to create different offerings. Combat is fast paced more immediate and twitch focused than Monster Hunters slower paced dodging and picking your shots gameplay.

The entire game is built around the concept of sacrifice, like a darker adult version Fullmetal Alchemists Concept of Equivalent Exchange; you can get something if you pay the price. Sacrifice an enemy and replenish your offerings or save them to replenish your health.  This choice permeates through the entire game, even allowing you sacrifice bits of yourself by using black rites.  These Rites offer you a very powerful attack but you receive a crippling injury in the process, perfect for a last ditch effort. The levelling system is also tied into this concept by offering you health bonuses for saving and attack bonuses for sacrificing.

This all extremely fun for the initial 20 hours, but slowly the fatigue and repetition starts to creep in. Enemies and stages start to become recycled and fighting that grotesque slime for the twentieth time is really starts to drag o. Luckily when it starts to drag, there is the always the brilliant multiplayer to perk you up. You and 3 other sorcerers work together to complete Avalon pacts. These pacts contain over 50+ missions of increasing difficulty so there is plenty to do even after the credits have rolled.  You can also take these pacts on solo, but for the tougher missions you allies simply won’t be able to keep up. The Pacts themselves lack any sort of variety, but they are still a blast when played online.

 Sacrificing also finds its way into the multiplayer with an interesting trade off. If a player goes down you can save them but you have to sacrifice half your health. Instead you could sacrifice them triggering an extremely powerful attack but by sacrificing your ally you are now down a person. Save or Sacrifice, either way it can affect the outcome of a fight sometimes in unforeseeable ways; keeping games exciting.

Soul Sacrifice has length of about 20 hours just for the main story and dozens more if you plan on doing all the Avalon pacts. The game is let down by a lack of mission variety, enemies and stages too soon you see it all repeating and can’t help but get a little sick of it all. However thanks to the fun combat, multiplayer and the lore that binds it all it together, it stops itself getting as repetitive as it would.

Is Soul Sacrifice the game we Vita owners need right now? God yes! Is it the game we deserve? Well…yeah, it could use a bit of extra work but at this point; it’s one of the best games on the system. Vita owners should definitely buy it, I mean what else you going to do? Play Persona 4 again?

8/10

 

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