If the Vita is to become a big success in Japan, it will need a lot more releases that cater more specifically to the market. Soul Sacrifice certainly has a lot going for it in this regard, as a dark Action RPG with Keiji Inafune of Mega Man fame at the helm.
The plot places you in captivity, a slave awaiting his sacrifice by an evil sorcerer, when you come across a forbidden magical book. This book affords the reader the ability to relive huge battles from years gone by between sorcerers and monsters, and perhaps discover a little more about the predicament in which you find yourself.[drop2]During gameplay, you control a sorcerer embarking on missions to tackle monsters and bring them down. It’s familiar Action RPG stuff but with several twists to the basic formula. Most central is the sacrifice mechanic, alluded to in the title, which roughly takes the form of a simple morality system. When it’s transposed into the game’s fiction, it does take on a rather different meaning.
As you wish to improve your character, you must perform sacrifices in exchange for all of the powers and abilities you get. These sacrifices range from personal belongings, up to giving up limbs and even lives in order to gain access to the more powerful magics. This ties in with the large battles, in which you face huge beasts such as Cerberus and Pegasus.
Should you defeat them, then each and every monster in the game has a back story to share with you. It gives the motivations that they had as humans which led to them gradually transforming themselves into these monsters, and lets you decide whether to save their souls or sacrifice them in return for more power of your own.
It’s quite a hefty dose of foreshadowing for the later stages of the plot but also shows a bit of nuance to the game’s path. It will be a more difficult proposition to stay a goodie two-shoes, and not make sacrifices, as you are then channeled down different paths of magic and abilities with a visual appearance that transforms too. This in addition to a rather extensive range of customisations that can be made with clothing.[drop]If you can’t sacrifice others, then you may need to sacrifice your own body parts to keep up. Giving up your own eye might give you an extra perk but it will also reduce how far you can see. If it gives you the ability to hurl trees and boulders at enemies or summon a fiery manifestation to attack, might it be worth it? Much of the magic and many of the personal transformations have rather brutal visuals to go along with them. So expect to see spines ripped out, giant claws replacing arms and intestines snaking about the place.
All of the choices that you make through the game shape your character into different roles on the battlefield, from a high HP melee monstrosity to a ranged magic wielder. This all ties in nicely with the game supporting up to 4 player co-operative play. Going up against monsters as a group provides some slightly different challenges and some even tougher opponents.
Even in the co-op, the sacrifice angle is being played up and in order to defeat some of the larger beasts you may need to sacrifice your own life for the good of the group. Whilst that will then remove you from the group, you get to be a hero in the truest sense. It’s set to be a more difficult path to take in the game but playing as the good guy is what a lot of people prefer to do.
This game is actually a fairly intriguing proposition, with a rather dark and twisted back story and world behind it. It’s definitely a Japanese oriented title, even as they have tried to take certain elements from Western games and mythology. If you enjoy this particular genre it’s certainly one to keep an eye out for.