Soul Sacrifice Review - Power has a Cost

Justin Clouse | 30 Apr 2013 12:00
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Soul Sacrifice follows in the same vein of a number of action RPGs, like the Souls or Monster Hunter series, where complex game mechanics trump pretty much all the other aspects of the experience. Like those games, Soul Sacrifice requires a certain sensibility in its players in order to truly enjoy it, you need to be willing to meet the game halfway and learn its ins and outs, not all of which are presented in a perfectly straightforward manner. If you're the kind of player to work past these barriers, then Soul Sacrifice will be a game that drains your time as you delve into the character customization, deep gameplay and creepy story.

True to its namesake, Soul Sacrifice's core gameplay and narrative center around sacrifice. The game opens with some poor soul being killed by presumably the primary antagonist. He's got extra eye-balls all over his body, which is a sure sign of evil intentions. Luckily or unluckily, your adjacent cell-mate fills you in on the specifics before suffering a similar demise. The guy with the extra eyes is Magusar, a sorcerer who needs a fresh supply of living sacrifices, and you two are next. After Captain Exposition bites it, the player character happens upon a talking necronomicon-esque grimoire buried under some of the rubble. The book informs you that it's actually a journal of another sorcerer who used to travel with Magusar, and that by reliving their past adventures and deeds the player could acquire the power to defeat Magusar. After the introductions, the story takes a more measured pace, and as you page through the book, simple animations, text and dialogue will appear to spin the tragic tale of the lives these sorcerers led. In this world, sorcerers are a bit of a necessary evil. They travel the world exterminating monsters, some of which used to be human, but their power has its cost.

At its core there are really two major elements to understand and master in Soul Sacrifice, saving versus sacrificing monsters and allies, and managing the offerings that fuel your spells. Every monster you defeat will return to its previous form, be it cat, raven or a sorcerer gone off the deep end. You'll be given the option either to save or sacrifice them, which has a number of implications. In the short term, saving normal monsters will regain you a small amount of life and sacrificing them will refuel your spells. Allies, both NPC and online, are handled a bit differently as saving them will require you to give up half of your current health, whereas sacrificing will enable a devastating magic attack. As you progress through the game you'll level up and your tendency towards divine, dark or neutral will unlock additional customization options. On the whole, the saving/sacrificing has a number of interesting gameplay mechanics tied to it. The only downside is the required clean-up after every fight where you move from body to body to prompt the same animations of saving and sacrificing opponents.

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