Soul Sacrifice Review - the path of a sorcerer is steep with choice and consequence
- Posted April 30th, 2013 at 08:03 EDT by Michael Harradence
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Soul Sacrifice is a dark, addictive and brutal action-RPG that excels in aesthetics and rewarding combat. Poor A.I., repetitive foes and steep learning curve prevent it from reaching triple-A heights, however.
- Gorgeous level and creature design
- Addictive, rewarding combat
- Sacrifice mechanic is unique and adds strategy
- Lack of enemy variety
- Poor A.I.
- Steep learning curve
Soul Sacrifice is a game of patience. It’s a brutal beast, and will very likely have you tearing your hair out in frustration on multiple occasions. Still interested? Good, because concurrently it’s also one of the most rewarding action-RPGs you’ll ever play, and a must-needed addition to the PlayStation Vita’s software library. The brainchild of Keiji Inafune, who is perhaps best known as the creator of the Mega Man series and a former Capcom developer, Soul Sacrifice is also about choice and consequence, and the decisions you make will impact heavily on your character – and conscious, for that matter – as you progress through its 25+ hour campaign.
From the outset, you’re very much plonked into the deep end. The world has crumbled, an all-powerful sorcerer is laying waste to the remnants of humanity, and you're next. Fortunately, you are saved from a grisly end by a demonic book named Librom, you actually spend most of the game locked in a cage. However, the talkative tome – who sports some gnarly features yet speaks incongruously in a cheeky English accent – is your key to progression, as you relive memories stored in his pages from other sorcerers. Librom also provides useful insight and even rewards you with Lacrima (tears) that acts as the game’s currency as you progress (more on that later). Each ‘chapter’ if you like acts as a mission, with the core story being the main focus, but there’s also side-missions to take part in to facilitate the levelling-up process.
After customizing your character with in a very rudimentary menu, the real meat of the game becomes apparent: sorcerers, combat and levelling up. At its nucleus, Soul Sacrifice is very much a grind-heavy hack-‘n-slash, though don’t let the first few battles fool you: this is a deceptive little minx, and that will become clear very quickly. You’ll battle your way through hordes of varied, grotesque monsters and face off against some of the most aesthetically-pleasing boss creatures that I’ve personally clapped eyes on this generation. One thing I should point out though is that newcomers to this particular style of game may be put off by the abundance of info that’s thrown at you as you start up. I took a while to acquaint myself with the fundamentals of the Soul Sacrifice – this definitely isn’t a game that possesses an easy learning curve.
The meat-and-potatoes of Soul Sacrifice’s combat are items known as ‘offerings.’ In layman’s terms, this is basically equipment you give your character – six in total – which can range from offensive, defensive and status-fuelled trinkets. Offerings are mapped to square, triangle and circle, allowing you to intuitively switch between them – hitting R will give you access to the other three offerings, making for a total of six. However, there’s a catch – each item can only be used a certain time before they are depleted. Whether you’re wielding a massive ice-sword, creating a thunder-fused fist from below ground or chomping down on healing fruit, each item must be replenished (or charged) if you don’t want to lose them outright. If you do, then you’ll have to part with some of Librom’s tears to get them back. Items can also be fused to increase their potency providing you have more than one of them in your inventory, or combined to create new powers.
As a result, battles in Soul Sacrifice become multi-layered and strategic affairs, despite on the surface seemingly like your run-of-the-mill slash-‘em-up. And to be fair, the basic combat does generally involve hammering away at the attack button. Still, gamers will be perennially concerned with not only dishing out damage to your opponent(s), but also preserving your own health and offerings. Though this may seem frustrating, it really keeps things feeling fresh, and I took great pleasure in juggling responsibilities, switching up offerings as they began to run dry, and adapting to new tactics. Offerings themselves are pretty diverse and appeal to a variety of playing styles, too. I preferred getting up close and personal, so I used some meaty power attacks; others, however, may wish to attack from a distance.
Bosses really accentuate the tactical nature of combat and really act to keep you on your toes. These ... (continued on next page) ----