Developers: Marvelous AQL, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studios, Comcept
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: April 30th, 2013
Available On: Playstation Vita
With the Playsation Vita desperate for system selling exclusives Sony has gotten Mega Man designer Keiji Inafune to design a new game for their system. Setting out to make a faster paced Monster Hunter, does Soul Sacrifice succeed in its goal of giving the Vita the game it needs?
If you are looking for a faster paced Monster Hunter then the good news is that you’re in the right place. You’ll be playing as a sorcerer with access to various spells. Each mission will place you against either several enemies or a large boss enemy, and each time you kill one you’ll get parts from them. You’ll use these parts to cast spells, and can also combine parts to create stronger spells to cast. Using the spells you could find yourself creating a sword to slash at an enemy, or turning yourself into a large bolder to crush them below you. The options are nice and you’ll find plenty to suit your play style. The missions are short, often not even hitting the ten minute mark which works perfectly with the mobile format. You’re often paired with an AI buddy or two, though the game does allow for you to go online and play with four other players. While the combat is fun, it will start to get repetitive. If you want better spells then you may find yourself grinding out earlier levels to get more materials. By about half way through the game I’ve pretty much seen all there is to see when it comes to the game play.
Each and every time you kill an enemy you’re met with a difficult choice: Do you want to save them or sacrifice them? Which ever choice you make will give you XP into either the life or death bar. The higher your life level then the more health and defense you have. On the other hand, the death level gives you stronger attacks and lets you use your spells more before they have to be replenished. The total level of the two bars can’t go higher than 100, so you have to be careful with how you want to assign your points. There’s also instant rewards for your choice: saving an enemy will heal you while sacrificing them will replenish your spells. Sometimes your AI partners will also have preferences for what they think should be done. If you save too many monsters when your partner wants to sacrifice them then you risk them getting annoyed and leaving you. The same also extends to your AI partners: do you save or sacrifice them? Saving them costs half your current health, but they can get up and keep fighting. On the other hand you can sacrifice them which will bombard the whole arena with a mega spell and get you some extra rewards after the fight is over. Yet a sacrifice is costly and you’ll have to pay big if you want that partner back to life.
You’ll be paying with tears from a talking book too. Over time the book that brings you to the various missions will collect tears, and you can get them by tapping on its eye. You can also use these tears to lower the level of your life or death bar, in case you wanted to level up the other one more. Outside of missions you’ll be able to spend time combining spells to create better ones. Like spells can be combined to level them up, which doesn’t increase damage or anything but does increase how many times you can use them before they break. You can also combine two different spells to make a new one. For example, combining the pinwheels with an electric power will let you summon electric fists instead. You can also find parts to upgrade your right arm, which gives you passive buffs. Like other things, you’ll need to grind out fights for these parts, which contributes to the game’s highly repetitive nature.
Even the story suffers from repetitiveness, though in a different way. You play as a prisoner reading a book about the life of a sorcerer. The book is slowly leaking power to the prisoner as he reads it, and he plans to use it to defeat his captor. The book gives the details of a long and dramatic life lived by the old sorcerer, who was a key factor as to why the world is messed up now. The pages are written in a creepy and broken style as the sorcerer descends into madness. It’s well done, but I can already tell you the layout of most missions. The sorcerer talks about his friend, your eventual captor, and the lesson he will soon learn. Then you play a mission. Afterwords, you’ll hear from the sorcerer what the lesson he just learned was. Finally the book will close and will quickly recap the lesson for a third time. It’s grating that the game seems to think you need to have the same story points explained over and over again.
Despite all the repetitiveness, Soul Sacrifice contains some fast and frenetic gameplay. If you’re teaming up with a buddy then there’s plenty to enjoy here. Even solo you can find some good here in short bursts. I just recommend keeping it to that, as long playthroughs will burn you out.