Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Release Date: 4/30/2013
Available Exclusively On
The Good: Fantastic graphics, intense combat, many different weapons, memorable and well written lore
The Bad: Weak story, repetitive battles and repeating arenas, can be way too hard, sacrificing gameplay not at its full potential, overall lack of polish
Soul Sacrifice is one of those games that looks cool but when you start playing you will be completely lost for a while. The game starts out with you being captured and put into a cage with bones everywhere. A book wakes up and starts talking to you. It’s a journal of a mad sorcerer, and he later explains you need to stop this powerful sorcerer, but in the mean time you need to level up, gather strong weapons, and learn about his past. The story never really pans out and it just stretched so thin that you lose track of what’s going on. The presentation is interesting with literal storybook pages and an ominous narrator, but I would have liked something more.
You basically just select a mission and it will tell you what you’re supposed to kill. There are tons of fantastic and memorable lore wrapped around every enemy and battlefield. These stories read out like Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I was really hooked and couldn’t wait to read the next one. The enemy designs are really neat and unique as well as the bosses. You can customize your character’s looks, albeit not by much, and then it’s off to equip your weapons. Weapons are arranged in several categories from armor, arm, blood, power, shield, etc. You get weapons why defeating monsters and they are awarded to you. These weapons can be combined with dupes to give you a higher cast count, or they can be fused into new weapons. This is a great idea if the game didn’t constantly throw crappy weapons at you. Half way through the game and I was still dying several times per boss because I just couldn’t get any powerful weapons. It’s like they all did very little damage. Some bosses and enemies are weaker to certain elements and types. Some bosses you can’t get up close to at all so you need powerful projectile weapons. If you don’t know that going in, you have to restart and re-equip. This trial and error is frustrating and one of Soul Sacrifice’s many flaws.
If that wasn’t enough you are limited by how much you can use each item. You can equip up to six different weapons for each match. Some can be passive for healing, but if you run out of casts you break your weapon and it’s gone forever. You have to use a special vision mode to find hidden regen points for your weapons but they are limited. Several times I ran out of casts for all my weapons and had to restart because I couldn’t beat the boss. Thankfully a special sacrifice power allows you to do massive damage but at the cost of sacrificing something. One power lets you burn everything around you but your skin becomes burned and your defense is halved. To get rid of these conditions you need Librom’s tears and these are only granted every so often by exiting the book and checking his eye. A neat idea, but frustrating nonetheless.
That’s the combat and that is the sole focus of the game. It’s great and fun at first, but very frustrating and monotonous early on. You just fight the same types of battles over and over again and the same enemies as well. The only thing keeping you going on is to see more of the story. I honestly got tired of the side quests and just stuck with the story to get it over with. Another major part of the game is leveling up your health or magic. You can sacrifice or save enemies after they fall by holding L or R. This is a unique idea, but you can be stunned and killed while doing this. Your team mate can fall and you have to resurrect them or sacrifice them for a boost. Once you do this you need Librom’s tears to bring them back. They can revive you thankfully, but many times they died right when I did or vice versa. There’s also online co-op to solve this issue which really helps, but most people aren’t going to do this.
As it is, Soul Sacrifice suffers from constant repetition and a lack of polish. Not having powerful enough weapons, lackluster customization features, and a weak story kind of hurt this game. The graphics are fantastic, but that isn’t what makes a game good. I was hoping for more variety and more of a cinematic story, not a menu driven battle selector. If this game had more variety and something else besides killing the same enemies forever it would have been one of the Vita’s best games.