I can't even begin to count how many times somebody told me that the upcoming Vita title, Soul Sacrifice, was their game of Tokyo Game Show 2012. Having played the game for myself, I can certainly understand why that's the case though.
I sat down with two other members of the press and together we tackled Soul Sacrifice for the first time.
It was glorious.
The demo started with the three of us choosing from a variety of preset characters. I decided to roll with a fairly normal looking female character, but I was told my a representative that the game features a deep customization system. The next step is where a lot of the depth of Soul Sacrifice resides. Instead of equipping weapons or armor, you choose from a wide variety of different types of magic. Each magical attack requires a sacrifice of some sort, either in the form of materials you find throughout levels or parts of your own body. Since it was my first time playing, I opted to roll with the preset options rather than waste precious demo time cycling through my many options. After all of us had completed out preparations, we dove into the demo.
The mission I played threw me and the others into a dark town entangled in giant roots and the like. Confronted with some weaker enemies, I got a chance to try out my skill set, which just happened to be primarily made up of projectile attacks. The square, triangle and circle button are dedicated to magical attacks, and pressing the R1 button will switch two a second set of magic. My standard square attack launched homing fire attacks, while my triangle magic sent a giant fireball into a wide arc. The circle button was an ice punch at close range. The X button allowed for a quick dodge.
Once my companions and I progressed down the straight path a little bit, we were confronted with a giant boss called Cerberus. A giant dog monster with three heads, the beast specialized in close range attacks, making it easy for me to hang back and support my teammates with cover fire from afar. As I bombarded the monster with flames, I noticed one of my teammates summon a giant plant monster that served as a great distraction for the close ranged fighters on our team. As Cerberus edged closer to its death, one of our teammates was killed in action. We were then given the option to save or sacrifice him, the latter of which results in various buffs. It didn't take very long (a second) for us to unanimously decide to kill our buddy, giving us the power to finish off Cerberus quick and painlessly. The beast then reverted back into human form and we were given the option to once again kill or save the lost soul. After exchanging quick glances, we opted to save him, giving his soul safe passage to the next world. I was told that you there are pros and cons to choosing either options, but the representative didn't go into specifics.
Interesting enough, when a player is sacrificed, they still have the ability to participate in the action. You retain the ability to run up to fellow players and heal/help them, as well as slowing down enemy movement by grabbing them. It's a really smart way of keeping players in the action and certainly worth considering when you decided to save or sacrifice a friend.
I was impressed with just how good the game felt, running at a smooth frame rate despite crazy amounts of monsters and magic exploding onscreen. By the end of the Cerberus battle, the three headed dog was shooting blood out of nearly every opening in the body, reminding me a little bit of Shadow of the Colossus. Between the western gothic art style and the dark yet beautiful music, Soul Sacrifice is just oozing with atmosphere. The controls are smooth and intuitive, and it feels like a game that's very easy to jump into. With four player coop being available over the internet, I think Sony has a real hit on their hands.
The video above is of me playing the game with Keiji Inafune speaking about it in the background. Make sure to check it out for maximum awesome.
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