Soul Sacrifice Playtest – Brutal, Bleak And Intense

By Kris . April 30, 2013 . 12:05am

ss_pt_01

You begin Soul Sacrifice in a cage, waiting for imminent death at the hands of the corrupted sorcerer Magusar. A shockingly poorly-voiced cutscene results in the death of another prisoner and a dangerous looking talking book falling into your cell. The book, known as Librom, informs you that he is a sorcerer’s diary and that you can learn enough magic to defeat Magusar if you read him. On top of that, he promises to reveal secrets about Magusar, as the diary belonged to one of his close friends.

 

Admittedly, I was a bit worried about Soul Sacrifice at first. Shortly after my introduction to the Librom, I had to kill some weird looking rats and cats. Spells seemed strange to me. Why should I have to take an extended period of time to generate weapons like swords and arms before I can attack? Why is my only ranged attack something that sprays my blood at people and takes my health? Is there any way to beat the bigger enemies without sacrificing half of my defense (and all of my skin) to summon a gigantic man made of fire? Why is do I have to pay the tears that the talking diary cries to use it again and keep my defense intact?

 

However, with each mission, I gradually got more and more comfortable. Each mission I went on generated “Lacrima,” the tear-like substance I had to brush from Librom’s eye to “change the past” and restore depleted spells and fallen comrades. Spells with lengthy startup times, like swords, allowed me either multiple slashes or a charge slash. However, it took a particularly challenging fight for me to really click with combat.

 

One of my missions was to kill the Elven Queen, a woman who had once kidnapped children due to her inability to have any who had been twisted into a hybrid, flying dandelion-infused creature. Since she was almost constantly airborne, my first attempt against her had me loading up on ranged spells and just trying to chip away at her health as she floated around. I had two kinds: Pinwheels and Mortars. Both allowed me to walk and aim like a third person shooter, but had to be used in different ways. Mortars had to be used at long range and were slow to fire, but would explode on impact, so I just had to fire in the general vicinity of my target. Pinwheels, on the other hand, were floating buzzsaw-like weapons that would lock onto parts of an enemy and could be readied and fired quickly.

 

ss_pt_02

However, the downside of spells that can be used quickly is the fact that each spell has a set number of uses. My Pinwheels, for instance, could only be summoned 15 times. My mortars, only five. Use them all up and you have to pay to use them in another mission. There are a couple of ways to get around that, though.

 

For one thing, there are places for you to refresh your spells on each map. While the exact nature of these spots varies from map to map (sometimes it’s a tree, other times a barrel) but they can be located by using your sorcerer’s “Mind’s Eye.” Your Mind’s Eye provides you with quite a bit of information. Enemies are highlighted green, yellow, or red in accordance with their health, investigable spots (such as those that refresh your spells) have white glows to them. Sometimes, these white glowing areas will allow you to summon a new spell out of whatever they’re attached to, such as producing a stone axe out of a rock, which can be very handy if you’re running low on your equipped spells.

 

Most importantly, your Mind’s Eye allows you to see the Cursed Parts (effectively weak points) on Archfiends (the bigger monsters in the game, such as the Elven Queen). These are fun because they can be destroyed in a grisly spray of gore. Whereas one might think that destroying the Queen’s wings would take away her ability to fly, it did little more than a decent amount of damage and drop her to the ground. This was more than enough reason for me to keep aiming my shots at her weak points. While this worked quite well at first, when she got weak enough, she brought out two attacks that I was not happy about. The first attack shot homing demonic dandelion seeds everywhere. No matter how I dodged, these things would always catch me eventually, typically when I was readying a spell against their mother. I’d lose more than a quarter of my health with each strike, and I didn’t have a practical way to quickly get rid of them with my current set of spells. I died. Then I tried again. Then I died again.

 

On my third attempt, while scrambling around for a place to restore my spells, a text prompt appeared allowing me to make a shield out of the ground around me. While I’d mostly ignored shields up to this point, but I was desperate for something that could do damage and some demonic dandelion seeds were approaching fast. I summoned up the shield and tried an attack against the approaching seeds, destroying them instantly. I was then killed by the second of the two attacks that I hated, a headlong charge that seemed impossible to avoid.

 

ss_pt_03

Back to the drawing board. I returned to the spell palette customization screen and started testing some of the spells I’d unlocked prior. Some of them allowed me to change the way that my character dodged for a set period of time. One in particular allowed me to teleport short distances as much as I wanted for 20 seconds. With shield and new teleportation in tow, I returned to that mission. I was ready.

 

When I finally had my proper spells in place, I felt like I had total control of the battlefield. The minions that would try to attack me in the middle of the fight could be eliminated with a single properly-timed shield counter, which would amplify the shield’s damage from practically nothing to instant death. When the Queen started flying at me, I’d activate my teleportation spell and zip around the map until I found a safe place to restore my spells or start firing mortars from. I felt godlike. I could see every action in that battle coming and I had a response for it. I loved the fact that I was able to use everything at my disposal, from my spell palette to the weapons hidden in the environment to topple a boss that minutes before I could hardly scratch. The Elven Queen fell quickly, becoming the woman she once was. However, she was wounded, unable to move.

 

Then came the sacrifice.

 

ss_pt_04

I played Soul Sacrifice in a brutal way. Everything I did was in pursuit of more power. I’d kill practically every sorcerer I came across, whether wounded or after their defeat as an archfiend, just for the sake of some extra experience and a potentially damaging spell that involved ripping the bones out of my sacrifice and making them rain down as spears from the heavens. I’d save enemies here and there when I felt like I was becoming too much of a glass cannon (leveling up on a salvation-filled path results in more health, whereas sacrificing enemies makes you stronger), but for the most part, my sorcerer lived a life of brutality.

 

The story seemed to respond well to my decision to do so. With each sacrifice, the narrator (who male despite my choice to play as a female sorcerer) discussed the way that their own memories and consciousness were drifting away. The souls that a sorcerer absorbed would impact their own thoughts and feelings. There’s a constant sense of bleakness about Soul Sacrifice. Sorcerers are murderers, doomed to one day become monsters like the ones they’re tasked with slaying. They begin to lose their sense of self in the midst of all the killing. It’s kind of refreshing to play something so hopeless.

 

Food for Thought:

1. Between Librom in Soul Sacrifice and Grimoire Weiss in Nier, I wonder why talking books are so often sardonic and British in video games…

 

2.  I liked the way that beating non-main missions in certain ways would lead to different outcomes. At one point I let a sorcerer live after defeating her as an archfiend, and she joined my side as an ally. Because of my excessive mercy as a sorcerer (they’re supposed to kill every monster they come across), my organization sent an assassin to kill me.

 

3. I worked with my new ally and sacrificed my would-be assassin.There weren’t any major ramifications for doing so, but I liked the way it played out.

 


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  • http://wiredjungle.wordpress.com/ DrakosAmatras

    The voice acting is poorly done? How poor are we talking about here? Wrong or flat intonations? Uneven pauses?

    • holyshitstopbeingtaken

      WHAT AM I FIGHTING FOOOR level’s.

      Some of the voice actors are alright but others are just head scratchingly bad.

    • Wondering_Zero

      From the demo, the main character had a pretty monotone voice but I felt like it was actually pretty well done. At least during the parts where you’re reading the book.

      Otherwise the NPC partner you had, Sona or something or other, just sounded awkward to me.

    • Ferrick

      some of them are rather weird, though then again some of them are just speaking gibberish/twisted words

    • TlPPO

      There is a prisoner at the very start of the demo that had the worst voicework I’d heard in a long time. The protagonist was, thankfully, not as bad, but I thought he spoke way way way too slowly while he was reading from the book. I understand that it is for dramatic effect, but it felt too melodramatic for me.

  • Sekai-jin

    That is interesting piece of article.

    What I get from it:

    1. Apparently, the voice is sub par

    2. Combat involve sacrificing your body and health in exchange for spell

    3. Limited amount of spell, and require repurchase in next mission

    4. Need to keep eye on surrounding, there’s spell replenish point, and free give away spell around

    5. Mind’s Eye

    6. Combat require strategy, and need to set specific spells in fighting different monster

    7. Dying is common in this game, make it challenging.

    8. Making decision on sacrifice or saving the monster have impact to the player character and people around him.

    Sound great to me.

    8. Sacrifice or saving have huge impact to the player character and people around him.

    • Raharu95

      Based on the Demo, I would not really say that the voice acting was Subpar , maybe i should check it again. The English voices honestly sound descend so far, at least to me.

    • sandra10

      Combat does not involve sacrificing your body unless you use a specific spell that involves sacrificing your body. The blood bullets and time sand take out health but most spells don’t.

      And spells only require repurchasing if you “lose” them, i.e. use them 1 too many times. But there are indicators to tell you when you’ve almost exhausted the spell.

  • Niyari

    i played the demo and enjoyed it, but the combat wasn’t deep enough for me. in the end i decided that if i wanted to gear hunt with other people, i’d rather just re-activate my WoW account or play GW2

    • Ferrick

      what does gear hunting has anything to do with soul sacrifice ? you don’t even collect gears to begin with

      • Niyari

        i didn’t mean it in the literal sense. just the whole “killing stuff with friends” thing. unfortunately, because of how many MMO’s i’ve played, it is synonymous with gear hunting for me. either way my point is clear enough

  • Matenshi

    Does the bit about the narrator being male even if you play as a female character mean the narration isn’t actually your character, or is it a case where the developers only gave a crap about male players? :/

    • Lexaus_the_Alchemist

      You’re replaying Magusar’s written memories in the talking journal. So regardless, you’re playing from his point of view.

      • Akuosa

        Not really Magusar, but a partner of him, unless I got the story completely wrong…

        But yes, the game points out many times that you are reliving the experiences the autor of the book had, so it doesn’t mather what gender you make your character…. hell, you can even “rewrite” the gender you’re using whenever you want.

  • Lexaus_the_Alchemist

    Pretty honest review. The voice acting from the demo was a bit… overdone, for dramatic effect, but I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare for this (on second thought, a more medieval theatrics would be cool).

    Combat does take a bit to get used to since so many spells (“offerings”) have such varying uses and promote different play styles. But once you do figure it out, it really does shine in the versatility of what build you decide to go with in the end (full Chaos, full Divine, Hybrid, and everything in between).

    Unfortunately, a stupid payment error on my part is gonna delay my shipment by a day or so. =(

  • Aoshi00

    Anyone know if ordering from Amazon now would still get the pre-order bonus, like the 2 extra chars and Jpn audio track? Are they included w/in the first print inside?

    • Akuosa

      I don’t know if you would still get it, but I know it’s not inside the box, the shop where I got it just handled me a card for it.

      • Aoshi00

        Thanks for the tips guys. I called my local Gamestop,.unfortunately they are out.. Guess I would just get the paid dlc then.. Hopefully won’t cost too much. I got anarchy reigns from GS before, later on bayonetta ended up being sold for a buck lol

        • TheExile285

          The only thing that will be buyable is the VA pack. The rest is pre-order exclusive. You aren’t missing that much though.

          • Aoshi00

            Cool, the Jpn voice pack is the only thing I don’t want to miss. Sometimes you don’t know what pre-order stays exclusive or not.. hope it wouldn’t cost $30 like the Tomb Raider Jpn language pack on Steam lol (I imported the 360 ver though)..

          • TheExile285

            The Japanese Voice Pack is $2 on PSN

          • Aoshi00

            Thanks for the info man, I would just get the game on sale later or something and buy the Jpn voice DLC for $2 (mucho backlog now). If all games have this option it’d be so much easier..

            BTW, I just made room on my Vita memory to d/l the demo (I only have a 16Gb). Didn’t realize deleting the game would delete my saves too, deleted my Uncharted Golden Abyss save :(.. so yeah, would get physical copy later, 16Gb is not enough for d/ling full games..

    • TheExile285

      http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Sacrifice-playstation-vita/dp/B002I0K1Y0

      Its not listed anymore so probably not.

      Only options now are to download the game via PSN sometime this week (first week PSN buyers get pre-order bonuses) or see if a generous GameStop rep will give you a code if you buy it today.

  • MyBodyIsReady

    Anyone noticed the voice over guy is the dude from Game of thrones?

    Or atleast I think it it…

    • TheExile285

      Who is voicing who? I love that show, gonna watch the latest episode tonight.

      • MyBodyIsReady

        Not 100%. But the guy who follows Kaleesy(?) the dragon woman around and gives her advice. Sounds like him

        • http://geekorner.wordpress.com/ Geekorner

          Iain Glen, who portrays Ser Jorah Mormont?

          • MyBodyIsReady

            Yeah that’s him. I can’t find anything online that confirms this so maybe I’m mistaken. Sounds just like him though in my opinion

  • TheExile285

    Picking up my copy around 4pm today. Aiming for a Holy build with 90/10 Holy Mode Level 1. Already 19/1 because of the demo.

    I thought that Librom and Magusar (Narrator) had great VA work. The prisoner in the oppening scene was pretty bad though and the other archfiends/mages are hit or miss.

  • sandra10

    Some stuff I think is necessary to add: Boosting and fusing. You’d be carrying less of the same weapon but you can improve the cast number/strength of each spell with boosting and fusing nets you some really good variations on spells.

    Skill attacks deserve a mention too. E.g. if you completely freeze an enemy and then use an electric attack it causes more damage and you get more points.

    And then there’s the point system. The grading either goes up to Divine or Legendary Sorcerer, I can’t remember, but it dictates what spells and amount of spells you’ll get as rewards. Sacrificing allies and using the Black rites will get you Martyr Rewards which are fewer in number but usually better than the normal rewards.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Sorcerers are murderers, doomed to one day become monsters like the ones they’re tasked with slaying. They begin to lose their sense of self in the midst of all the killing. It’s kind of refreshing to play something so hopeless.

    Puella Magi Madoka Sacrifice

    • ekibyougami

      being Mahou Tsukai is suffering ._.

    • Chiupon

      I wonder if the book forces you into a contract… :<

  • http://myfigurecollection.net/collection/ashgail Ashgail

    Come on, ship faster goddamit. I want to play you already. I put 16 hours in the demo, that’s how keen I am waiting for this game to come out here.

    Just wondering, do the voices sound British aside from Librom? Cause I find the voices to be quite top notch in the demo, aside from the first prisoner (this seems to be a very universal complaint). Even in the Japanese version, the first prisoner sounded horrible :P

    • Brandonmkii

      Sortiara (Nimue), totally sounds British. Can’t speak for anyone else as I’ve been using the Japanese voice pack.

    • Brandonmkii

      Sortiara (Nimue), totally sounds British. Can’t speak for anyone else as I’ve been using the Japanese voice pack.

  • Göran Isacson

    An interesting game, this one. Seems superbleak and with quite a high treshhold/learning curve, but still a worthwhile experiment in gaming. Think I’d be interested in this one, I do..

  • Ferrick

    who the hell is samuel ?

  • neogeno

    Lol these bots are trying so hard. Just mark em and move on.

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