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
(continued from previous page) ...your toes. These hulking creatures can absorb huge amounts of damage, and if my experience is anything to go by, will kick your arse a good few times before you are powerful enough to defeat them. Yes, that’s a rather polite way of saying ‘be prepared for some hardcore grinding.’ Soul Sacrifice is a tough bugger, so you’ll have to level up; and this is where the game’s unique, eponymous mechanic comes into play. Enemies – and even your partner – can be sacrificed or saved when near death. Whichever you decide on will fill up a specific meter: saving (blue) results in life/defence EXP, while sacrificing (red) fuels your magic EXP. As you might expect, saving also restores some health, while sacrificing recharges your offerings -- again creating a balance that must be addressed during combat to keep you both alive and with functional weapons. Bosses take on an even more significant role, as you can save their human form to add to your growing list of allies; sacrifice them though, and you'll receive a huge magic boost.
It’s up to you which one you can grow more, but the choice shouldn't be arbitrary; you can easily shoot yourself in the foot later on by focusing too much on magic and thus leaving your character a whelp in terms of defence and maximum health. I managed things carefully and created a decent balance, which seemed to pay off in the long run. Make no mistake though: you will come across groups of foes or bosses that will prove too powerful for you to defeat until you strength your character through copious – and sometimes arduous – amounts of levelling. Grinding isn’t too bad though, as missions are bite-sized brawls that don’t take too long to complete, and are always kept fresh thanks to the different offerings available to you.
That’s just the tip of the sacrificial iceberg, though. Black Rights allow you to literally sacrifice body parts when you find yourself in a bit of a pickle, unleashing devastating attacks in the process. Do this though, and you’ll pay a price: for example, sacrifice your skin and you’ll suffer severe burns reducing your defence by half. You can only reverse the effects by coughing up yet more tears. Indeed, Black Rights succinctly highlights Soul Sacrifice’s emphasis on choice and forward-thinking; I was always mindful of the repercussions of executing Black Rights, after I once succumbed to temptation and ended up with a severely weakened character for several missions due to lack of Lacrima. It’s a great mechanic, and unlike so many games that are willing to endow you with endless power, it really makes you think carefully about what to employ in combat – everything comes at a price, and you need to be mindful of that. On the flip side, Black Rights net you some sweet end-of-mission-points – you’re graded based on performance - and can really turn the tide of battle when you most need it.
Your character’s right arm is the source of his/her power, as it houses the very souls of the victims you sacrifice. You can also equip Sigils along your forearm for various stat boosts, such as nullifying the effects of elemental attacks to increasing your overall health and defence. There’s dozens of Sigils on offer, thus opening the door to plenty of combinations that can adapt to your preferred playing style. In fact, you are encouraged to tinker with combinations to find the best combination for specific missions. Your fellow sorcerers also function similarly, though depending on their alignment they may have no compunction in sacrificing you despite your dying pleas to be saved -- much to my annoyance during a battle. Others may show more empathy to your situation, however. They’re definitely an asset in battle in terms of attack, and there’s been a few times when my partner has landed the final blow against a boss. Unfortunately, the A.I. leaves a lot to be desired, as sorcerers seemingly have no awareness of self-preservation, blindingly charging into the enemy even when they are on the rampage and getting battered in the process.
As mentioned, your magic-wielding mates can also be sacrificed for the cause. This all interweaves neatly with the concept of choice ... (continued on next page)