While Keiji Inafune contributed to Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 and Bakudan Handan (he’s a guest character in both Idea Factory developed titles), Soul Sacrifice is Comcept’s first full game. Soul Sacrifice begins with your character about to be executed, but is saved when s/he is sucked inside a sorcerer’s diary. You gain magic powers, but spells in Soul Sacrifice have a price ranging from blood to shoot bullets to giving up an eye to fire laser beams.
Soul Sacrifice has players give up their body parts to cast forbidden magic. Why did you want to focus on the concept of sacrifice as a core part of the game?
Keiji Inafune, CEO of Comcept: In video games these days, it’s typical to have statistics like how many enemies you defeated or the number of rare items you collected. I wanted to incorporate an emotional aspect to a game and have players make hard decisions. In this game, it’s having to pay the price for the powers you get. Sacrificing yourself or teammate has emotional weight and adding this to the gameplay would be a brand new experience. When you play multiplayer, it might mean a lot to your friends when you sacrifice yourself to them and it might mean a lot to you if a friend does that so you can progress through the game.
[Laughs.] The question you probably wanted to ask is what happened after I left Capcom. I didn’t just leave a company, I left behind a legacy and the stability of being in a safe environment. Starting from scratch on smaller projects with a new team was a big challenge. I had to give up the influence I had to start over and that was a sacrifice, I suppose, in return I hope to rise with the success of this title.
Are you worried the game will be a CERO Z (adults only) game in Japan since it’s so gory?
We’re aiming not to get a Z. There may be necessary changes to avoid that rating. In that case, there is a chance the way that Soul Sacrifice looks might be different in North America than it does in Japan.
You can’t get much more graphic than ripping your own spine out, right?
You’re right if this was reality, it would be pretty grotesque. Because it’s sorcery and everyone in the game is a sorcerer, the player can still fight after he creates the sword.
How long do you live after you create Excalibur?
Time is limited after you create the sword, but the game doesn’t create a cut scene and automatically kill the enemy. One of the best parts of the game is spending the last moments of your life fighting with limited powers. You want to defeat the enemy as fast as you can with the limited amount of life left.
So, if you defeat the enemy within that amount of time what happens? Do you live?
No, you die anyway. Whether you defeat the enemy or not you die. Using a forbidden art it’s like your last resort.
I think Soul Sacrifice is the only game where you can ‘win a fight’ and still ‘lose’ since you die. That’s an interesting mechanic.
I promise you that even if you die when sacrificing yourself as a last effort it will feel good. If you lose, after making that big decision, it will be disappointing. Let’s say you have a girlfriend and you want to protect her when she’s being attacked. You would go and try to save her. Even if you get killed, if she lives you fought and died for someone you love. It’s a better than watching her die.
In most games you play to benefit yourself. In this game, you play for somebody – you can die for someone. There are different emotions players will feel when your hero dies in the battle and everyone else in your party benefited from your death.
Maybe this is the perfect game for couples then…
[Laughs.] If you play in single player mode you have an AI partner in the game. I recommend the multiplayer mode where you can play with your friends or girlfriend. Because that’s when the emotions come out and everyone can feel the sacrifice.
I was at your GDC talk, was Soul Sacrifice the game you were talking about that you wanted to revolutionize the industry with?
This is definitely one of them, but I don’t want you to think this was it. You might say this "doesn’t look revolutionary," but I am thinking about change all the time and there are a lot of projects I’m developing that I haven’t announced yet. My goal is to do something innovative and something new for the industry and Soul Sacrifice is one of those games.
What do you have to say about the comparisons to Monster Hunter?
It’s natural that people compare Soul Sacrifice to Monster Hunter since I’m from Capcom. I don’t mind being compared to other Capcom titles as well, but I’m not trying to imitate MonHun. It’s always good to take in the positive points in a game that are liked by everybody, but in the end we have to create a title that is even better. Not just for MonHun, but the history of games have always been like that – creating something new and something new that’s even better.