Gamescom 2012: Soul Sacrifice Preview – Come to Daddy!
Written Monday, September 03, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
In the majority of games, special powers, magic and abilities are normally taken for granted, but in Soul Sacrifice, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune wants you to think twice about using the game's most powerful moves, because they're going to cost you. Big time. Inafune's first independent title since leaving Capcom, Soul Sacrifice is centred around the “concept and theme of sacrifice” the man himself tells us. “For every power you gain, you have to give, always,” says Inafune.
Soul Sacrifice's main character is being held in a mysterious cell by an evil, savage sorcerer when a strange book appears before him. The book contains chronicles of incredible, fantastical battles, and your character relives these stories as a series of quests, as he strives to break free from his bizarre prison back in the real world. That's the basic set-up anyway, and as weird as it might sound, the convoluted narrative serves as the perfect excuse to kill a variety of monsters that were once human, and who all have their own tragic stories.
A slice and dice action adventure for 1-4 players playing co-operatively, each player takes the role of a sorcerer with a whole variety of options at your disposal for customising your character. And you'll be able to unlock more costumes for your hero by completing quests. Venturing out into Soul Sacrifice's world with your bespoke hero, you're then able to harness the power of magic through offerings, and you can't use magic power without paying the appropriate price. This is where the theme of sacrifice comes into play. To use sacrificial magic, you'll need to offer up your flesh, a body part or even your character's life in some situations. The greater the sacrifice you make, the more powerful the magic you'll be granted.
You can even offer up your friends as sacrifice, but you might want to prepare to offer up your own life in exchange as and when it's required. Both you and your buddy will be rewarded with powerful magic, but a life sacrifice isn't a decision to take lightly. Setting up your character, you'll be able to choose from two sets of three magicks to assign that'll suit your own individual play style. Facing Soul Sacrifice's once human monsters, you'll learn how they came to be transformed into their beastly form, which invariably tends to involve some sort of horrible greed or avarice.
Using magic to their hearts' content has turned Soul Sacrifice's inhabitants into monsters, and it's down to you to ultimately decide their fate. Each monster, whether it's the Harpy, Minotaur or Cerberus, has its very own backstory, and as each states its case and recounts its lamentable story to you, you'll be able to make your decision to either lay them to rest and save their soul or sacrifice them. Upon defeating a monster, you'll be presented with this choice, and the decisions you make will define the type of character you'll become as you progress through Soul Sacrifice's tale.
Every one of the game's stages is “borne out of human greed”, according to Inafune, and as we're shown a cavernous gothic hall, there's clearly a great deal of care, attention and detail being lavished upon the environments. Inafune promises a range of different art styles across each level, with various landscapes inspired by both the eastern and western world. The monsters look remarkably fearsome too, with the Giant Harpy boss we're shown (pictured in the first screenshot) towering above the intrepid hero. As your character deals out some hacking and slashing combos against the tortured creature, she pleads for her life, explaining why she's a monster. It's a sad and disturbing story that Inafune hopes will instil a sense of guilt in players should you choose to kill and sacrifice her.
Hitting either the left or right shoulder buttons on the PS Vita (save or sacrifice respectively) initiates your decision once the beast has been slain, and your choice, as well as defining your character will also unlock different paths through the story and different outcomes in battle. It's hoped that these branching courses through the narrative will create replay value, while the co-operative multiplayer and unique sacrificial gameplay hook will encourage players to keep on returning to the game. Of course, you can play solo, which will prove challenging, but Inafune thinks that playing the game in co-op will be more fun for most people.
Soul Sacrifice is the fulfilment of an ambition for Keiji Inafune, bringing a new IP to new hardware with a significant multiplayer element made with ad-hoc co-op in mind. There's also a potent message, as Inafune highlights human greed as “monstrous and ugly”. It's loosely based on his own life he tells us, as he was forced to make difficult choices, but had to sacrifice things to gain more power. Make of that what you will, but there's no denying that it's an intriguing gameplay MacGuffin that ought to make Soul Sacrifice a monster-slaying hack and slash title with a difference. Sure, we've seen the save or sacrifice thing done before in Dante's Inferno, but Soul Sacrifice has the potential to take it all to a whole new level.
Soul Sacrifice is tentatively slated for winter 2012/early 2013.