Soul Sacrifice is a new IP that places you at the (lack of) mercy of an evil sorcerer. With only a magical book to guide you in your journey to becoming a sorcerer you must build your repertoire of spells in order to save yourself and the world. Complete quests by yourself or with others online in order to become strong enough to defeat the sorcerer, and while you’re doing that – be weary of what sacrifices your actions may bring.
Soul sacrifice is an action RPG that has a very unique and riveting story line. You start off a nameless nobody in a cell ready to be sacrificed by the evil sorcerer Magusar. The world has come to an end and there seems to be no hope left to be found. However, a magical book by the name of Librom finds his way to you and begins to tell you a tale of Magusar’s beginnings in hopes that by finishing the story, you will acquire information on how to defeat him and return the world to its natural order. Librom has you relive the stories within the book as Magusar’s companion, another sorcerer whom you gain control over. You venture through several chapters of the book, gaining different spells, passive abilities and all the while unlocking the secrets of how to save the world. None of this would be useful if kept in a book however, so Librom explains that everything you learn as the sorcerer in the book, you will gain knowledge to in real life. Essentially, Librom is turning you into the one person who can save the entire world.
The general plot line of soul sacrifice is reminiscent of various sci-fi movies and books. It’s filled with betrayal, difficult choices, internal and external struggles and some wild theories and claims about how the world of sorcerers works. But as you make your way through the story… you’ll find that it works. Instead of being confused or bothered by the outlandish theories the game brings about, you will find that everything seems to make sense and suddenly you understand events, emotions, and actions that took place earlier in the story. The developers took a risk at how far out from normal they could go, and it paid off with a brilliantly told and quite gripping story. You can really feel yourself being connected to the characters in the game (albeit how few there are), pushing you to finish the story before you do anything else.
One of the key successes of the story is actually how it is told. Soul Sacrifice makes an interesting move by not showing many cut scenes and replacing usual story progression with the pages of the book, being read by an eerie voice portraying your character. If you have the patience to listen to each line being read within the story, you will certainly gain more understanding of the weight of the situations, and be able to grasp a lot of the feelings coming from the story.
Sadly, soul sacrifice’s main story can be completed in one day, provided you understand the tactics and mechanics of the game for some of the later missions. Even though it is short, the story leaves nothing to be desired. There are two endings which both properly lead to a sequel and really grasp the gravity of the entire build up, forcing you to reach deep into your soul to pry out what you feel would be the best way to conclude the epic journey you have uncovered.
Soul Sacrifice is basically a combination of Monster Hunter and Dragon Age. It utilizes different spells or offerings as your main form of taking down monsters. As you progress through the game, you will unlock hundreds of different spells. Some give you handheld weapons, others may send a streaking path of fire towards your enemies, while others yet may summon a huge golem to do your bidding. You will be able to upgrade spells through a simple fusion option, or combine new spells in a clearly laid out manner. With all the different spells at your disposal one would think taking down enemies would be easy. Well that’s where the game takes a very interestingly fun turn. Out of the hundreds of different spells you may unlock, you can only bring 6 into a quest. There are essentially two types of quests: kill multiple monsters of lower tier (mobs), or kill one large boss monster. Each boss monster has a specific strategy, technique or weakness which can aid in its defeat, and must be utilized for an easier kill. Upon killing any monster, you’re given a choice: to save or sacrifice their soul. This is essentially a karma system in which you are rewarded more defense for saving, or more attack for sacrificing. You gain levels for saving or sacrificing which can give you different passive abilities called sigils, and are accessed via essences collected from defeated monsters after being saved or sacrificed. This is really a well thought-out system as you can change your level balance at any time, allowing you to play the game exactly how you want.
Nonetheless, the sad reality is that the repetitive process of enter quest, kill, repeat can get kind of… well… repetitive. In the end, you only need to do the quests in which you need certain spells for. However, Soul Sacrifice attempts to remedy this by having you farm different quests for different spells. Instead of assigning different spells to a single monster, the game gives you multiple options of quests to complete in order to acquire the spells you want. While this doesn’t completely rid of grinding certain quests, it does help smoothen out the process by picking quests you like. And don’t worry about there being a shortage of quests either; there are literally chapters within chapters within chapters of quests.
As the quests increase in difficulty, you may need to borrow the help of others via online or ad hoc play with up to 3 other players. The online for Soul Sacrifice is probably one of the best and most stable in a Vita game yet, allowing you to party up and tackle quests that may have given you some trouble on your own. Just in case the aid of others isn’t enough to defeat a monster, the developers of Soul Sacrifice have added one final trick to help you along. If you get beat on enough in a quest to come close to death, you will be given the option to cast a Black Rite spell. There are 5 Black Rites in total, each allowing for massive damage on a single or multiple enemies. However, in order to use them, you must sacrifice something…really bringing out the nature of the game. For instance, activating one Black Rite will set you on fire, causing a massive Ifrit to destroy the battlefield – however, without your skin, your defense is halved! That is until you can reverse the process via an in-game currency collected by playtime called Lacrima. This extra ability, along with the factors that go into a properly prepared sorcerer for each quest, really bring out a strong sense of strategy when playing by yourself or with others, and is often neglected in other games, resorting to a “hack and slash” mentality.
With so many quests to complete, spells to collect and upgrade, and costumes to unlock, there is easily an extremely large replay value thrown in with Soul Sacrifice. You never truly get that feeling of accomplishment until you fully upgrade a spell and begin to dominate with it, only to realize there are hundreds of other spells that could use the same treatment. The ability to team up with others wherever you are is truly a blessing and also prolongs the value of the game. While you may find that certain things are just not worth grinding for, there are at least a solid 50 hours of gameplay in which you can accomplish maxing out your character, completing most quests and maybe maxing a few spells. However, the real value is that Soul Sacrifice can be played anywhere on your Vita. Most quests will not take longer than just a few minutes, allowing you to accomplish small goals on-the-go, making this game to be one of the most practical games on the Vita yet.
Although the gameplay doesn’t change a whole lot from start to finish, you’ll find yourself enjoying newly unlocked spells and working with others to be quite enjoyable, all the while becoming the most badass sorcerer you can be.
Many Vita games have seemed to fall short in the graphics department. And while Soul Sacrifice does have some of the best consistent graphics to date, it doesn’t really show it off. Each quest is filled with very vibrant and dynamic environments. Your character’s colors will pop out and the monster details are glorious. But as soon as you exit a quest and return to your homely book, you remember that most of the game just isn’t capturing its potential. This is partly due to the way the story is told, lacking cut-scenes and relying on the pages of the book to express what is going on.
There is one nicely done cut-scene at the end of the game that reminds you of how great the quality of the graphics are, but other than that, you’re really going to have to appreciate the details in the hectic and concentrated gameplay portion of the game. Nevertheless, the game is crisp and colorfully vivacious when it needs to be, and the constant barrage of spells at your disposal really reminds you of this with exciting animations beautifully displayed across your screen.
With the end of the world upon us in Soul Sacrifice, there is this large feeling of gloom about, and the game’s audio really reflects the eeriness about it. The most capturing thing about the story is how perfectly performed the voice acting is. The emotions are wonderfully captured within every read page and at the end of the readings, you’re rewarded with a most elegant, yet dark and despaired opera, which underlines most of the menus in the book. Sadly, those are the most memorable sounds as the rest of the game’s audio is often blurred by the action.
Within every quest is a wonderful score that captures the battles you are about to undertake, portraying the mood vividly. However, this is turned down and overrun by the epic sounds of your spells being cast and bosses apparently drowning in their own word vomit. While the spells are wonderfully displayed for all to hear and know exactly what is going on, a lot of the ambience is lost in the process, really bringing about a relief when you return to the calm menus.
Overall Score: 15/20 = 7.5 out of 10
As one of the most versatile games on the Vita, allowing you to enjoy playing in short bursts or for extended periods, Soul Sacrifice really makes an impression into the Vita library. Over a plethora of quests, you will unlock and build of hundreds of spells by which you can take down a variety of different monsters to build yourself as a divine or evil sorcerer. You can be accompanied by 3 others in online or ad hoc play, all the while being coaxed along by the smooth, dark and sultry sounds of the menus, and invigorated by the montage-like soundtrack of murdering in quests; or by its rather impressive, yet under-utilized graphics. While the game can get repetitive, it does hold some stature for attempting to mix things up for you. In the end, Soul Sacrifice stands out for its ingenuity in creating an addictive, albeit repetitive, mage infested murder party that could have used a little more attention to the finesse of the game.
+ Compelling story
+ Strong voice acting
+ Lots of replay value (quests, spells etc)
+ Strong and stable online
- Repetitive in nature
- Audio in quest can be too “busy” at times
Copy purchased by reviewer (@VengefulTorture) for review purposes.