Soul Sacrifice is an action-RPG coming exclusively to the PlayStation Vita developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studios and Marvelous AQL on April 30th in North America and May 1st in Europe. Those studio names may not necessarily mean a whole, but it's worth noting that the entire concept for this game was created by Keii Inafune, co-creator of Mega Man. I'm not quite sure why he is obsessed with protagonists that have lethal weapons where their arms should be, so there's that. I did not finish all of the demo before writing this impression piece, as this is simply an impression of the early portions and is meant as nothing more than a preview; this is not a review.
Based on gameplay footage and teaser information, I originally though this game was going to be a semi-open world RPG, in the vein of Ragnarok Odyssey, of which you can read my review of right here; but I was wrong. Not really in a bad way was I wrong, it's just different than what I expected. Instead of throwing players into a world and allowing them to go on quests, purchase items, level-up, customize their gear and all the things you'd expect from an RPG, this one is quite a bit different.
The extremely lengthy demo starts out with your character trapped in a cage on the verge of being sacrificed to a powerful sorcerer that feeds on humans. Before he can get to you, another person tries to escape and ends up being consumed instead. Amid the chaos, a possessed talking book appears and engages you. By interacting with the book, you're able to relive stories of previous sorcerers that battled this human-eating one in the past. By reliving these stories, you are able to gain experience and become more powerful.
How the story ultimately concludes and where it takes you isn't really clear at this point, but I ended up being a huge fane of the presentation. Adding an extra layer to the story, is that in this book there are certain areas and details that are missing or appear to be smudged out. Since you're reliving the tales, you're able to fill in these blanks and customize certain portions of the hero such as equipment, abilities and appearance. You even get to make decisions during quests, like whether you save or sacrifice rogue sorcerers that becomes evil. Whether or not these decisions have repercussions for the story are unknown, but they do affect your development.
Each time you make one of these choices (or interact with certain areas during missions) you choose to either save or sacrifice. Saving gives a boost to your health or heals you. Sacrifice, naturally, does the opposite by buffing you magic power and harming you. It would be really cool if we saw repercussions for these instances later in the game, but I'm not sure how likely that is in the grand scheme of things.
Combat was the most disappointing part of the game/demo for me thus far. Every attack in the game is tied to using spells, or sacrifices. All of these abilities are really really impressive from a presentation standpoint and are incredibly creative, but they're just not that fun to use. For example, shooting a machine gun burst of blood out of your arm that turns into razor blades, draining your health and hurting your enemies, is a crazy cool idea. However, all of the attacks are extremely slow and cumbersome in practice.
With that being said, I did really enjoy the loadout/customization aspects of the game. After each mission you get to see which spells and items you collected and then customize your sorcerer before each subsequent missions. This is engaging as it allows you to mix and match different spells together to find the right balance of close-range, long-range and defensive abilities. The game and this demo also feature online cooperative multiplayer, which opens up possibilities even more.
It's impossible to really say how the whole game will turn out based on a (admittedly lengthy) demo, but it seems very promising. I love the presentation and premise of the plot, as well as the creepy possessed story book aspects. I wish the combat was a bit more fast-paced, but that
could change apparently changes after getting farther into the game. Check back near the end of the month for our full review and final verdict on the game. All of the progress in the demo will carry over directly to the game, so you have no reason not to at least give it a try.
UPDATE: The demo does include multiplayer after finishing it.
Have you checked out the demo? If so, let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!