Game Review: Soul Sacrifice
Soul Sacrifice is a game exclusive to the PlayStation Vita. Soul Sacrifice focuses on the ability of the player to either save or sacrifice souls in order to level up and gain abilities. It’s a combat oriented game based around levelling up and defeating enemies in order to become the strongest sorcerer there ever was.
The games storyline centres itself around the idea of escapism and entrapment. The players’ character is captured and caged by the evil sorcerer Magusar. The player is next on the list for Magusar to kill and will likely follow the same fate as the victim we witness in the game right at the start. Luckily a book/demon character known as Librom appears in the cage offering all sorts of powers to the player. But in order to get them the player must live the life of sorcerers long passed away. Only then will the player gain the knowledge and power to defeat Magusar and escape the situation they are in.
When you first start the game Librom introduces you to many of the games intricacies but eventually leads you into your own path as you read his story. The player is given the choice to customise their character and their appearance in the game and choose the name for their newly designed character. This character then makes up the sorcerer you explore the life of in the Librom story book. It’s done well I think as it allows the player a lot of creative control over what their playable character will look like and the presence they would like to have in the game. There are also quite a variety of options such as choosing to play as a male or a female. Also appearance settings regarding hair, skin colour and various other intricacies. You can see below I designed quite a lot of different characters before choosing my final one.
As for the gameplay of the game. It bases itself heavily upon combat oriented spells and abilities. Players are given an option of what abilities to equip for each battle and each ability has different strengths. There are fire, freezing and thunder type of spells. As shown in the picture below you can press square, triangle or circle to use the abilities. Holding the buttons will release a stronger more charged version of the ability. Pressing R will reveal a second tier of three additional abilities to use. The gameplay mechanics work based upon ability charge, relying to much on the ability assigned to square or triangle will mean it will run out. Nothing is unlimited in the game so you can’t just simply spam everything and win the fight. Additionally abilities will need to be renewed if out of charge for the commencement of the next battle. I thought the game does a good job of mixing things up, you can’t just rely on one thing to get you through every combat situation.
A player will gain experience by sacrificing a fallen enemy or boss. As you go through the game you can pick up items and new abilities as you progress. Sacrificing an enemy during the game will also help to recharge your spells to further your combat initiatives. While saving the soul of a fallen enemy will regenerate you health.
During gameplay as well the player is sometimes joined by allies to help during battles relived in Librom’s story. I preferred the battles where I was joined by an AI simply because they were able to revive you. Being killed in battle when I was alone was not fun as I had to reload the whole level again. I did find my characters voice to be a bit whiny/weak sounding though. Some boss battles are quite difficult in Soul Sacrifice so it’s always good to have help, I just wish it was available much more than it was. I wouldn’t say that Soul Sacrifice is a particularly easy game but it gets easier once you understand the battle principles to win in the game.
Each stage is broken up into a series of battles the player must progress through in order to finish. The story of the game is told in a strange way; in that there are very few video related story scenes in the game. You are read the story as if you were reading Librom (the book) yourself, written text and narration is displayed to the player. I found the voice acting for the narration though the be quite capturing especially during the Sortiara tales. However a more visual type of player or one lacking patience may skip these written down story telling areas to just get to the combat. But they are worth it and they do explain quite a lot about what the players are going through.
As for the art style in this game, I found it to be quite distinctive and slightly over the top in some aspects. There are a lot of limbs and blood, along with strange creatures such as giant rats or slugs you are challenged to fight in the game. The character design is unique but very stylistically visual in its impression. Some of the characters have quite a grotesque appearance and aren’t the most attractive figures to look at when playing a game. The games style is sort of something of madness and insanity possibly reflecting the characterisation of Magusar and others who challenge him. I think the life of the sorcerer has driven many of the characters mad and it is very reflective in the art style of the game. Take a look at some of the screens below and look at the artwork in the game.
In terms of the music in this game I found it to be quite compelling and really well done. I think in comparison to the story telling, the music really emphasises the emotion of the storied tale we are shown. Themes are energetic and theatrical but at the same time slow and strong. I enjoyed the soundtrack of this game.
Overall, Soul Sacrifice was a good portable gaming experience for the PlayStation Vita. The art style and music mixed with the gameplay made this game quite enjoyable. While the story telling method may not suit everyone, it did have its effective moments throughout the game. In experiencing the game as a whole I would say it is enjoyable and has way over 30 hours of playability for the player making it a long lasting gaming choice.