May 8, 2013

Soul Sacrifice Review

Lasting First Impressions

Soul Sacrifice Boxart


oul Sacrifice, developed by Sony’s Japan Studio, is a game that just seemed to come out of nowhere. Until the day of its release, I had neither seen nor heard anything about it.  What this game presented is something I am still trying to wrap my head around.  It is like nothing I’ve every played before.

Soul Sacrifice takes the player on a journey through the past life of now powerful sorcerer told through the written words of that sorcerer.  As the player reads the chapters from a living tome (the book itself is actually alive and continues to instruct and help the player along), the life of the sorcerer in the story is played out.  Players can customize their character and make choices throughout the story that will guide the story along.  Choosing whether or not to Punish or Save creatures after they are defeated will reward the player with magic or life points, while choosing to Punish or Save the defeated bosses will alter the actual story.

The chapters play out in simple, isolated levels like arenas.  The player chooses the chapter, selects the spells to equip and then ventures into the arena to defeat multiple creatures or a big boss.  That’s it.  Really, there’s nothing more to it.  Sure, with each chapter completed, the player will become more powerful as the story becomes a training ground for the player before attempting to confront and, ultimately, defeat the biggest baddie of all.  Ultimately, however, there’s nothing more to Soul Sacrifice than defeating some enemies in a small enclosed arena over and over again.

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Visually, this game is stunning and the creatures are all uniquely designed, but everything about this game is muted in very dark overtones and never seems to let up on the dreariness.  There is a sense of foreboding in the game that never loosens its grip and nearly becomes depressing after long play sessions.  The cryptic tutorial screens don’t alleviate the confusion the game exudes and the player is left trying to figure things out on the fly, sometimes to their detriment.  In one particular chapter, I had equipped some new spells to try out but what I didn’t understand was the fact that spells don’t last forever; they actually wear out leaving the player with nothing left to cast.  With no way to recharge the spells, I was forced to quite the chapter before completing it because I had nothing left with which to fight.  The game leads towards a button masher approach to fighting since the player has no idea how close to death the enemies are. With no visual indication of the enemies’ health, there is no inherent strategy that could be concocted during battles. This was especially irritating during boss battles since they just go on forever, again with no indication of how close you are to finishing it.

In another bizarre twist, Soul Sacrifice has some of the most hauntingly beautiful classical music I have ever heard in a game.  The music is wonderful, but somehow just seems to be an abstract opposite to the game itself.  Dark, foreboding evil offset by sweeping, epic orchestral pieces simply flies in the face of sanity.

Ultimately Soul Sacrifice will be a hit among players who don’t mind constant and repetitive grinding to obtain better weapons and increased levels, but there’s not much else presented in this game.  The gameplay gets tired quickly and no amount interesting story telling is going to alleviate  the repetition.  While the game does allow up to four players to grind together, the gameplay remains relatively unchanged, even if it is a little more fun to play with others.  Even after all the available tutorials, and several chapters of the story, I simply don’t get it.

SCE Japan Studio, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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