Last week, we gave our initial impressions of Soul Sacrifice, the Monster Hunter-esque game for the PS Vita, and we were hopeful that the game might even warrant a Vita purchase if you've been holding off thus far. After putting in dozens of hours into Soul Sacrifice, I can, with full confidence, confirm that this is the case here.
Soul Sacrifice tells the story of a prisoner stuck in a cell made out of spikes and human bones, who's to be consumed by a sorcerer named Magusar. Among a pile of bones, however, he finds a talking book named Librom, with a cover made from flesh, complete with eyeballs and all. This book collects and recounts sorcerers' adventures, and the ultimate goal is that the reader gain enough experience and power by living through those memories to ultimately overpower Magusar and escape their fate.
Like the name suggests, Soul Sacrifice is all about choice and ultimate sacrifice. It's an experience that, unlike many other games that ask you to choose between two outcomes, doesn't present choices that are simply black and white, and I often found myself unable to quickly decide between the two.
The lore is probably one of the most intriguing parts of the game. Sorcerers live to protect humanity from monster abominations, which are formed from living things, like rats, cats, birds and even humans. The sorcerers must defeat these monsters to attain power, even though that means sacrificing the being within as well.
Of course, there are also those that defy the sorcerer's code and cleanse these creatures, thus saving the living beings inside, but that also means granting pardon to whatever evil they have committed in the past to have been turned into such things in the first place. The interesting twist is that sacrificing and absorbing the power of these monsters will eventually turn that sorcerer into a monster himself. It's a dark and chilling story that sits comfortably next to Dark Souls in both tone and atmosphere.
The balance between sacrificing and saving plays into the leveling mechanics of the game. By sacrificing monsters, you gain offensive power, dealing more damage and being able to use more offensive sigils. On the flipside, saving monsters and returning them to their regular state allows you to have more health and use health and defense-boosting sigils. You can't max out both, as the combined level cap is a 100, meaning you can either balance yourself by going 50/50 or focusing on one over another.
Comparisons to Monster Hunter are going to be fairly obvious here, considering the structure of the games is relatively the same. You accept various missions, each taking only a few minutes to complete, most of which require you to defeat a certain set of monsters or a boss. There is no overworld to explore here; each mission takes you to a small map where the action takes place.
However, the comparisons end there. Soul Sacrifice easily beats out Capcom's hunting games on almost every level, the best being combat. SS is all about quick, action-based combat that asks you to experiment with various combat items rather than picking one and sticking with it. And boy, are there a lot of weapons to play around with. You get various items like broken axes, shields, plant roots, etc. each time you complete a level. These things can then be equipped and taken into battle. By sacrificing them, a broken axe will spawn a big axe for you to swing around for a limited amount of time. Similarly, sacrificing a plant root or items of that nature will grant you health boosts or some type of defense.