Full disclosure: I was a little skeptical of what Keiji Inafune was capable of once he left* Capcom. (*Some might say ‘was freed from’ is more accurate.)
Soul Sacrifice didn’t seem like the type of game I’d associate with the whimsical guy responsible for Mega Man, Legends, and lovable scamps like Tron Bonne.
As a huge fan of Demon’s Souls, which I’d heard brought up in comparison to SS, I was obligated to try it at some point. The fact that I recently picked up a Vita and got the game for free via PS+ helped expedite the process.
Sadly, Soul Sacrifice has about as much in common with Demon’s Souls as Monster Hunter does with Wizardry. There’s no dungeon crawling or exploration, or a sense of reward for delving into the unknown.
What it does have is some fantastic boss fights, difficulty to spare, and one of the best stories I’ve been exposed to in years.
The world is a dark place. The mad sorcerer known as Magusar(no relation) has gone crazy, and has taken to sacrificing countless sorcerers and innocents on the altar of his immortality.
The player is a new victim, trapped in a desolate cell with nothing to do but wait for his time to die at Magusar’s hands.
Until he finds a book… a Librom… who promises to give the player a chance at salvation and maybe even defeating Magusar. All he has to do is read, and learn about the past.
Soul Sacrifice is basically a Monster Hunter-like, just more mission based. A comparison to God’s Eater is more apt. Once you choose the target, you go into an arena-like instance where the monster and lesser targets await. Kill them all and continue with the story.
What sets Soul Sacrifice apart is the Sacrifice/Save mechanic. By saving the souls of slain monsters, the player gets more life, and becomes (presumably) a more light-hearted person. By sacrificing them, you get more magical power(and also recharged spell uses), but the player’s heart also turns darker.
Certain parts of the story also branch based on whether you save or sacrifice a vanquished boss. Sometimes it only amounts to a new page or two of text, but hey, it’s something.
The text is easily the most engrossing aspect of Soul Sacrifice. Accompanied by the music of Yasunori Mitsuda(composer of a little game called Chrono Trigger, you probably heard of him), the player can easily get engrossed in the hundreds of pages encompassing the lore of Soul Sacrifice’s characters, world, and bestiary. Especially the bestiary. A terrifying amount of prose is dedicated to explaining how the monsters became the vicious beasts they are today, and the player may even find them sympathetic.
The Cyclops, for instance, was a Blacksmith who offered up his eye to forever keep his craft intact. He did, but at the cost of his humanity in addition to his sight. From start to finish, if nothing else, I assure you the story of Soul Sacrifice will keep you engrossed, and I hope learning the truth about the Librom and Magusar proves as enjoyable and shocking to you as it did to me.
The dark world Inafune helped create is one that easily merits multiple visits.