Soul Sacrifice (PSV)

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Keiji Inafune was talking up his upcoming PS Vita title, Soul Sacrifice, at gamescom this year. He seemed quite excited about this, his first title as an independant after leaving Capcom not too long ago. Soul Sacrifice is a co-operative action RPG being published by Japan Studio together with Marvellous in Japan and it’s planned to be released in the first half of 2013 for Vita only.

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The story begins with you locked in a small cell without any explanation. You are to be sacrificed by the sorcerer who has you captive, but as the time of the sacrifice draws near a book appears, a book that chronicles fierce battles of the past. As you read the journal you are thrust into its world, where you become a sorcerer yourself. You realise that perhaps if you battle through the chapters of the book you might be able to free yourself from the cell you are stuck in in real life.

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When you battle through quests in the book you are able to use magic, but all magic costs something. To get more power you have to sacrifice more. Most of the time you will be able to use things around you to gain the power you need to use your magic, but sometimes for more power you could sacrifice your own flesh, a body part, your friend’s life or even your own life. These choices cost you – sacrifice an eye and you won’t be able to see as well, sacrifice a friend and they won’t be there with you to battle the monsters. The sacrifice you make affects the entire scenario, but you’re not affected in real life, so when you have defeated the monsters and completed the book’s chapter everything will return to normal.

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The monsters in the game are inspired by various mythologies and include harpies, minotaurs, cerebus and slimes. The art style of monsters and backdrops are inspired by the Western world – Inafune calls it a “best of both worlds approach.” The monsters were all once human but plummeted into darkness as they used magic to their hearts’ desire to satisfy their own greed. Every monster has a story explaining how they ended up like they are, and when you have defeated them they will plead with you, explaining who they are and why they became a monster. As you defeat them they change back to their human selves, and you will have the choice of “laying them to rest” or sacrificing them. Sacrificing them gains you power, but laying them to rest is more merciful. The choices you make will affect the type of sorcerer you become and also affect how the story unfolds in that each response will unlock a different stage, adding to the replay value. Inafune noted that not sacrificing your enemies will make the game much more difficult, but it can be done.

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The game is quest based, and before you go on a quest you can customise your character. This means setting up their features and choosing a costume. But more importantly it means choosing what magics you want to use for that quest. You can only choose two sets of three magics each, so this is an important decision. The levels in the game have been designed, so they will likely be designed with particular sets of magics in mind, which might mean there is some sort of puzzle aspect in figuring out which magics to equip. You can quest on your own in the singleplayer campaign game, or you can join up to three other Vita owners in questing in the multiplayer part of the game. Inafune noted that the Vita was the platform they chose because it is something brand new and interesting, but also because ad-hoc multiplayer is so popular in Japan and they wanted to include Japanese players.

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Soul Sacrifice looks quite unique. The battles remind me of Dragon’s Dogma and Monster Hunter, and the co-operative aspect is clearly targeting the Monster Hunter crowd, but the sacrifice mechanic sounds like it could lead to some very interesting, difficult choices. Do I sacrifice myself for the quest? I will lose out on the fun but will enable my friends. Do I sacrifice my leg? I will be slower, but perhaps the power I gain will be better than being more agile. Inafune said that the inspiration for this mechanic has come from his own life
– success and failures in his life led to different paths, he said, and he was forced to choose. I guess the question when the game comes out will be: do I sacrifice this hard earned cash to be able to play this Vita game? I’d like to get my hands on it before recommending it, but right now I would be willing to make that sacrifice.

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