Soul Sacrifice is an action role-playing video game developed by Marvelous AQL, Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation Vita. It was released worldwide throughout 2013 on March 7 in Japan, April 30 in North America and May 1 in Europe. Created by the maker of Capcom’s Megaman Keiji Inafune Soul Sacrifice’s core mechanic of the game is the ability to sacrifice parts of the character’s body or items to create devastating attacks.
The main protagonist of Soul Sacrifice is one of the innocent prisoners that have been enslaved by a powerful and evil sorcerer named Magusar. Just before the protagonist is going to be sacrificed, a demon in the form of a book appears before him/her. The book, named Librom, is a collection of stories that describe past fights between monsters and powerful sorcerers in someone’s history. Many questions aren’t answered at first like who is the character that is accompanied by Magusar? What’s his motivation? And how did Magusar become so heartless and evil? All the questions stand before the player at the beginning of the game and all are answered slowly but in a great way through out the story in Librom in book form.
The gameplay and combat are quite simple and smooth as the game allows you to equip and bring up to 6 spells into battle on your right arm. You can use 3 at a time using the square, triangle and circle like hot keys in like most MMO games in order to cast the spell you have equipped on certain buttons and pressing R1 will switch to the other 3 spells you brought with you.
After defeating enemies the saving and sacrificing mechanics is where the game starts to change. When an enemy or ally is defeated, they collapse to the ground and you are given the choice to either save or sacrifice them. Saving an enemy restores a portion of health, while saving an ally consumes 1/2 your current health but restores that ally back to the fight. Players can also choose to sacrifice enemies a portion of their spells are recharged. And if they sacrifice allies the ally will create a powerful map wide damaging spell which inflicts massive damage on every enemy on the map. However, sacrificed players can no longer be healed and enter a spectator ghost type mode in which they can continue to watch the fight. Sacrificed players have the benefit of being able to see numerical damage figures and exact health bars. They can also use touch features to temporarily enhance alive players stats by a bit or curse tap an enemy temporarily lower the enemy’s defense.
The gameplay like said is quite simple but at the same time fun and deep. Certain spells can be combined together to make a stronger spells or even help to create and summon elemental golems that assist you during battle which are really helpful. Later in the game it really requires team work from either CPU allies or online players. Later bosses in the game are far from easy to take down and sometimes if not prepared well enough can take up to about a half an hour or even more to defeat.
There are a total of five elements to choose from in the game Fire, Ice, Electric, Rock and Poison which in the game are called Heat, Frost, Volt, Stone and Venom. Each element is weak against another (Pokemon Style basically) and majority of the enemies and monsters in the game have an element that they are super effective against. So it is indeed wise to collect and strengthen as many spells in as many different elements as possible because you don’t want to be going up against an enemy that has an element advantage over your load out.
Speaking of Load Outs it is extremely wise to take advantage of this tool provided in the game. It makes your spell placement and organization when it comes to creating a certain 6 spells you want to choose to bring into battle much easier. Just like shooters now these days load outs make it more convenient to the player and it’ll definitely help out during online gameplay when you have load outs ready to choose because trust me people online are impatient.
You can up to a total of 50 different load outs and at first glance you may think like me and say out loud “Now there is no way I’ll be making that many different combinations and loadout”. You are fairly mistaken if you think you can take out every single enemy with on combination because there is now ultimate combination of six spells that can take out every enemy in the game with ease if it does exist prove me wrong. I have never been a fan of load outs in any game and thought I would ignore this feature because of it, but I at this moment I have about 33 different load outs created and I don’t see my self stopping.
The best thing to do when creating different load outs is to make a loadout for every single elemental situation and boss situation. So that means if your next quest if going to have a ton of enemies that are Frost enemies then make sure your load out consist of mostly Volt elements. Just like any game with a Load Out feature you are able to change the name of the load out. So what I do is I’ll create a Load Out called “Electro Set” just so when I know it’s time to fight enemies that are weak against that I can go straight to that load out and be ready for instant action. This is wise to do but taking it one step further an even wiser thing to do is to create another Load Out like “Electro Set” and add at least one spell Volt is weak against which is Stone. The name for this Load Out could be “Electro&Rock” and the reason it is wise to have a load out like this will be explained next.
Extra Elemental Damage can be done to enemies which are called “Skillful Attacks”. To do a Skillful attack and enemy must be caught in any of the following Elemental Stuns Infernal Hell, Frozen Hell, Shocking Hell, Venomous Hell or Petrified Hell. This can be done by hitting an enemy with the same element continuously until that element stuns them so Shocking Hell for example would leave an enemy in a static stunned state which they can’t move. While they are in this electric static state if you hit them with Volt’s Weakness which is Stone, that stone attack will cause a Skillful attack which will cause double damage. This can be done on enemies and bosses and is really something to look into when it comes to creating your load outs making every combination will leave you satisfied and easily with over 20 different load outs you don’t mind having. Lastly making specific load outs for Bosses is good to have also as all bosses in this game have different patterns so bring spells that counter act their abilities with a combination of that bosses elemental weakness (if they have one some bosses don’t) will make taking out bosses so much easier, satisfying and most importantly raising the overall fun factor of the entire game.
Each spell has are certain amount of times it can be used before it needs to be either recharged at a certain destination area on the battlefield or recharged by sacrificing peon enemies. If a spell is used almost behind it time of uses a warning pop up with notify the played that the spell it running low, usually you can use it 1-2 more times but it’s wise to either use a different spell or find a way to recharge that spell. If you go beyond the 1-2 spell use after the warning then your spell will break and can not be used anymore nor can it even be recharged.
Black Rites are last resort moves which can be done when the player has taken a certain amount of damage to his/her health and feels he’s or she has reach a point in the battle where they need a final devastating blow to either bosses or enemies in order to keep the upper hand or even complete the mission. There are a total of 5 different Black Rite attacks to choose from (excluding DLC black rites). You start off with the Infernus Black Rite attack. Each Black Rite attack you have to Sacrifice some part of your body in order to do a devastating attack and then after the attack your attack failed to defeat the enemy you must pay the price of the body part you sacrificed. Once you’ve paid the price you must continue the rest of this battle and maybe even future battles with the appropriate handicap.
The only way to restore back to regular state and repair broken overused spells is to use this currency called Lacrima. Lacrima at one time could only be obtained by talking to Librom the Book. He would ask you “Have you checked for droplets lately?” After you finish a certain amount of missions and go back to the Cage Menu, Lacrima is his tears. More Lacrima can be obtained by him by just playing the missions consecutively and checking up on him every once in a while. Recently in and update you can also obtain Lacrima during online play so you don’t have to leave the lobby in order to obtain it from Librom and also by posting your total amount of daily Saves and Sacrifices along with your Arm’s Stats to either Facebook or Twitter rewarding you with Lacrima.
This game by far has one of the best Drop reward systems I’ve ever encountered, now it’s not perfect but it’s damn near close. The drop system when it comes to obtaining new types of spells after quest is not based on luck like most RPG games. It is based on your skill and how well you did in that battle. Kind of like the game “Unit 13” every mission is ranked with a point system and obtaining a certain amount of points gives you an overall rating score at the end. Ranking from “Sorcerer in Training” up to “Divine Sorcerer” ranking will reward you will different spells at the end of the battle. You can obtain a certain spell you’ve been farming for and have a 100% chance of obtain that spell every time as long as you get the highest rating at the end of the battle. This is great because unlike other games you don’t have to sit there playing the same mission over and over again praying that you obtain what I want, you’ll definitely know you obtained it if you can just get the ranking of Divine Sorcerer. That is the way all dropping systems should work, reward the player for their skill not their repetitive consistency, many games I have stopped playing because I just got tired of doing the same mission over and over again praying that I get what I want and trust me I’m all about repetition one of my favorite games is Dynasty Warriors..
Unfortunately this rule doesn’t apply for all types of drops in the game. Most bosses in this game have some sort of exclusive spell that they drop which are usually better than normal spells you are rewarded at the end of a battle. The only way to obtain these boss exclusive spells is by fighting that boss. Some say it’s easier to obtain boss spells by destroying that boss’s weak points (which can be seen by pressing down on the D-pad entering Mind’s Eye mode). But there is no guaranteed way to obtain boss exclusive spells every single battle which is a shame. This is also the case when trying to obtain certain LE and SE. (what are those you may ask?)
LE and SE stand for Life Essence and Soul Essence you will always obtain either one or the other if you Save or Sacrifice an ally, enemy or boss. You need LE and SE in order to obtain certain sigils, LE and SE also comes in LE+, LE++, SE+ and SE++, different rarity version are also only obtained by luck which only can be increased by certain sigils. (but what are sigils you may ask?)
Sigils are basically stat perks you equip to you right arm in order to increase you character’s Attack, Defense, Elemental Attack, Elemental Defense and many different other stats (and sometimes the amount of Life Recovery obtain once saving an enemy or ally). LE and SE need to be obtained in order to get stronger Sigils. Five Sigils can be equip on your Arm which makes an Arm Load Out. Arm Load Outs can also be set up the same way regular Spell Load Outs are created with their own 50 sets, which also comes in handy when creating one for each certain situation.
Attack and Defense are increased further by leveling up your character with either Saving or Sacrificing enemies. Saving an Enemy increase your Defense and Life Recovery while Sacrificing increases your Attack and Spell usage. While leveling up your character you have 3 level routing you can take, you can either go Full Good/Divine (By saving everything you see) or going Full Evil/Chaos (By Sacrificing everything you see) most games have this feature Mass Effect and Infamous for example where you basically choose how you character want your character to be looked as (You can also go Neutral which is basically half Good and Evil). When Leveling up your character you have a total of 100 levels to balance between Good and Evil which are called your Life and Magic level. Going full one sided changes how your character looks and has it’s pros and cons. Example going full Good/Divine which gives you a lot of defense makes your Attack fairly low, so the pro is you can take a lot of hits but it will take you a long time to kill enemies on the count of the fact that your attack is weak. Vice-Versa if you go full Evil/Chaos your Attack is substantially high and you can kill things a lot faster than a Divine character be your defense is extremely lower which can cause you to sometimes get 1 Hit Killed by almost anything in the game or leave you with about 10% health left which is almost equally as annoying as taking 30 minutes to kill a boss.
Choosing how you want to use your 100 levels can be difficult at first (at least it was for me and I was undecided on how I wanted to share between the two). At first I wanted to go Neutral because I was undecided then I around Lv 15 Save and Lv 15 Magic I decided to go Evil. As time went by I realized that everyone on my friend’s list was choosing evil route. I felt generic.. So I decided to go Good, so I went through majority of my story mission playing the good guy. When your character reaches Lv 90 on either save or magic he/she starts to evolve (yes I know like Pokemon). Since I was going the Good Route my character started to turn into a Divine looking character.
After I did this I came to the conclusion that fighting bosses for about 20 minutes or more was tiresome regardless of if I wasn’t dying because of my high defense. And in the later later missions bosses become so strong that your high divine defense just isn’t good enough to withstand majority of there hits to be careless. So now your left fighting a boss who can hurt you pretty badly and it’s taking you forever to defeat it.
So after that I went back to the drawing board and decided to go slowly de-level my character’s Life level and go Neutral. As my attack went up boss were getting easier to kill. Neutral is not bad in actuality it’s probably the safest build to go by when it comes to this game I almost kept it. But soon I became attack power hungry and curious on how badly I could destroy bosses if I had a Chaos Build’s attack. So basically decided to go full Evil/Chaos to see how much damage a Chaos character could really do.
Chaos Characters can do a lot of damage and I was far more satisfied with the route than divine but I was not to happy about dying in one hit by damn near everything.
I basically came to the conclusion that Life Level of 25 and a Magic Level of 75 was the best balance for me, I can defeat enemies fairly quickly but I wouldn’t get 1 Hit Kill by majority of attacks.
A good spell that Chaos Characters use are the Elemental Armor Spells which increase your defense as long as you have that Elemental Armor Activated. Elemental Armor Spells also follow the elemental chain rule so using a Stone Armor is good against Volt Attacks and you will take less damage from every other type of elemental except Vemon since that’s Stone’s Weakness. Incorporating Elemental Armors to your 6 Spell Builds is also a wise move. But in actuality the Amor Spells are really good for any build it’s a great spell category to invest into it’s definitely one of my preferred spells when first fighting a boss I have no clue about.
Soul Sacrifice uses the PlayStation Network to allow up to three additional players to join you in “Avalon Quests” which are side missions to the main story line. Any progress made through the multiplayer is also added to your single player campaign. The game also allows for Ad-Hoc connections for local players to enjoy the game without using the PlayStation Network. The multiplayer component to this game with the combination of the Playstation Vita’s Cross Game Chat made this probably the best multiplayer experience I’ve ever had on my Vita.
Playing with randoms is sometimes fun also until they hog all the enemies saving/sacrificing opportunities and sacrifice you without permission if you accidentally go down, then that just makes your multiplayer experience worse. But playing with people you know is definitely be more fun especially when your with a team that’s playing all in sync with one another to take down bosses, no other game on the Vita gave me a greater feeling of satisfaction when it came to team work.
The PlayStation Vita program Near is used in the game’s multiplayer section for players to share spells with other players in their immediate area. Any spell “gifted” through the Near application is not removed from the player’s inventory. Instead it makes a copy and allows other nearby players to receive the gift for free. However, some spells, such as those acquired through pre-order bonuses or importing demo save data, cannot be gifted. Use of this function does require the online pass.
This game is frequently updating and changing for the better which is great. Every update literally makes it more convenient for me whether it’s in the menus or gameplay. Example literally my biggest complaint was the fact that the camera speed was too slow, and at first there was not an option to change the camera speed. So flying enemies would be a pain to fight sometimes because of the fact that they would fly all around and above you and your camera speed for aim sometimes isn’t fast enough to catch which was frustrating. But in version update 1.10 the option to increase the speed of camera aiming was added, I thought this would never be fixed and I thank who ever realize that this was indeed an issue, I knew I wasn’t the only one out there that thought this was an issue.
DLC is definitely supported for this game and at this time we recently received our first DLC Batch with Version 1.10. It added two new Bosses, 1 new Black Rite Attack and a whole New Forgotten Pact Chapter all for free! (You could say this could have already been on the game and locked away from us but I don’t care as long as we didn’t have to pay for it so it doesn’t bother me I’m far from down playing this game and I’m not looking for random things to do).
The Free Black Rite allows the character to Sacrifice their own Mind and Brain which disgustingly swells it up. It also makes the player float hover across the battlefield. Holding down Triangle allows you to creating a vortex that sucks in enemies causing continuous damage to them, it even brings in your allies or online friends but it doesn’t hurt them it’s just funny.
When the game first game out me and many others received an email basically saying that this game will definitely support more future DLC. They even gave us dates to look forward to for the batch of contents. After that we are not sure if they will be priced or not but we are definitely guaranteed at least two more free DLC batches which is cool.
When I first saw this game I knew I was going to buy it day one and had high expectations for the game especially after my Demo Impressions. After putting a total of 135 hours into this game, I can proudly say that I prefer this game over not only Ragnarok Odyssey but over both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. This game is a complete masterpiece and I’ve never felt so satisfied with a game ever in my life. This is by far the the best Vita game I’ve ever played, probably on the the best action RPG I’ve ever played and definitely one of the best games I’ve played this generation. What Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Ragnarok Oddssey kinda of all failed to elaborate on is their stories, they all have stories but they fail to present themselves in a way a regular player can get interested in. I felt disconnected from the story in each of those games and that’s not a good thing because if you actually do your research behind the story of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls they are really really good but it felt like it didn’t matter. Narrative display of Soul Sacrifice is so spot on, entertaining and engrossing that you can deny following along every single page of Librom from start to finish just to know what happens. Anyone that says this game is anything less than a masterpiece for your Vita just lost some respect as a GAMER to me I don’t care about your preference or opinion beyond this point. Great Job Sony, SCE Japan Studio, Marvelous AQL and most importantly Keiji Inafune keep the great work up and I can’t wait for Soul Sacrifice 2.
+ A Ton of Interesting, Fun, Brutal Spells, Sigils and Black Rites
+ Environments look great
+ Great Story that hooks you in
+ Lagless 4 Player Online Co-op is fun
+ Amazing Remember-able Soundtrack
+ Nice Pace not too slow not too fast it’s just right for the type of game it is
+ High Replay Value
+ A lot of Amazing Challenging Bosses and DLC Bosses
- In my opinion the right side and left side of the Rear Touch Panel should have been used for Save and Sacrifice enemies and allies because I kept running into an issue where I’m on top of a mortally wounded friend or foe right to switch my set of spells with R1 but can’t due to the fact that the Save and Sacrifice options pop up above my screen, forcing me to move and most likely me getting damaged or missing and opportunity to land the blow I wanted an an enemy.
- Even though the Environment is great to look at and I always say Quantity over Quality the majority maps in this game are a bit too small