Soul Sacrifice is probably my favorite completely original PlayStation Vita exclusive game yet, but it certainly isn’t perfect. When I heard that the game was getting a shiny re-release called Soul Sacrifice Delta, my mind went abuzz with different enhancements and additions that Comcept and Sony Japan Studio could make to Delta to make it even more amazing than the first game. The game’s brief debut trailer heavily focuses on one new component in the game. Let’s talk a little bit about that and get right into the new features I’d like to see in Soul Sacrifice Delta.
Introducing Tiered Stages
One my biggest qualms with Soul Sacrifice was the lack of any true exploration or adventure. Although varied and beautiful, the game’s arenas are confined and somewhat flat. Delta appears to address this in a big way with dynamic tiered stages, as evidenced in the game’s debut trailer.
At about 25 seconds in, we can see some of Babylon’s sinister vines unraveling. This destroys the ground around them, and both the sorcerer and the Werewolf boss enemy fall to the ground below, revealing an entirely new stage. At around 33 seconds in, you can very briefly see a sorcerer and a Slime boss falling from the ceiling to the ground (or vice versa). This particular clip hints that players will somehow be able to interact with gravity.
In the very next scene we can see a sorcerer climbing upon a rock, from which he can attack enemies below him. At 40 seconds in the Harpy destroys a number of pillars in one of her irritating temper tantrums and this appears to open up a new path. Soon thereafter, a sorcerer erects a pillar beneath him, giving him quite a bit of leverage over the boss he is fighting. In between all of these scenes, we are of course treated to glimpses of new enemies, new stages, new raiments and – of course – new spells.
These new interactive components within the stages should add a great deal of depth to the game. Being able to climb onto rocks and pillars, destroy floors and other barriers could very positively change how we play Soul Sacrifice and I’m very excited to see how the development team will spice things up with this new mechanic.
This was the primary new detail I noticed in the trailer, so now we can talk about what we want to see in Delta.
Soul Sacrifice told its story in a very unique, meticulously paced way. I won’t spoil any plot details for anyone who hasn’t played it yet, but the tome format involved a whole lot of text. The great narration softened the blow here, but it never seemed to completely eclipse the fact that the game is almost entirely void of true cinematics. Sometimes there were very brief conversations between key characters before a battle, and the cutscene before the final battle is a little more pronounced, but that’s about it.
Since the player creates the main character, I can understand why this character would be absent from any pre-rendered cinematics, but there were plenty of opportunities for cool cinematics featuring the other characters in the game, such as Sortiara and Magusar. I feel that cutscenes add to the game’s entertainment value, or at least they really up the “coolness factor” of a title, and Soul Sacrifice has characters too cool to remain bound to text and narration.
I don’t want the game to lose its highly stylized text moments (some of which were very beautiful and engaging) but I really do want to see something like the game’s E3 2012 trailer (below) in Delta.
Greater Detailing of Sigils, Monsters and Progression
While playing Soul Sacrifice, I have to visit the internet several times to learn certain tidbits of information. And I mean several times. The game leaves several things very scantly explained, and while this does add a certain appeal to it (see: Dark/Demon’s Souls), a greater amount of guidance would be very much appreciated.
For example, the game absolutely should have a monster compendium or glossary of some sort that talks about the weaknesses, affinities and habits of the different boss enemies. There are many of them in the game and I shouldn’t have to look online to learn that the Harpy is vulnerable to fire or that her eating attack can down me instantly if it connects. Sure you learn these things after playing for a while, but having to figure things out can be a turn off for a surprising number of gamers.
I also had to peruse forums to learn about the sigils or more specifically, the essences needed to create them. The game explains what is actually a very deep system in just a few sentences, never mentioning which enemies drop which essences or that getting some enemies to drop their essences could take literally hundreds of hours. Progression through the story is also a little wonky, as you are unable to proceed through the main story at certain points, but you are never told what you need to do before you can continue.
Some Avalon pacts are hidden behind certain conditions that must be met, and the game will never tell you what these conditions are. You may also hit a wall where both the story missions and the latest Avalon pacts are too difficult for you to complete. Something like Dragon’s Crown’s suggested level indicator would clearly tell you to level up some more before trying again, but Soul Sacrifice doesn’t have this. Sometimes I felt rather neglected and starved for guidance while playing Soul Sacrifice and hopefully Delta does something to alleviate this.
Voice Chat, Leaderboards and More Online Modes
For all of its story and lore focus, Soul Sacrifice is a very multiplayer-centric game. While I am happy with what we have, it could certainly be better.
Voice chat immediately stands out as a grave omission, in a game filled with so many things that need to be discovered. Text chat is simply not viable in the heat of huge battle. Misunderstood or misguided players are often simply kicked from the room, when a brief spoken explanation would have cleared up any confusion. Of course we should be able to mute mouthy online jerks, but if I need to quickly say “run away when the Cyclops preps his spinning attack!”, I should be able to do so quickly and without delay.
Leaderboards could add more depth to the game’s online mode. The story campaign must be played offline, so players could be ranked against each other on parameters like speed, damage received, variety of spells employed or any combination of those. It’s one thing if my friend and I both have the trophy for defeating the Hydra, but which of us did it without being killed and in the least time?
Finally, the game needs more online modes. I’m not asking for PVP or anything (but why not?), but a greater variety of co-op missions would be wonderful. They could add timed survival missions, killing competitions between two or more players, a capture the flag style game mode, the list goes on. Jumping online and running through a few bosses with a group of folks is still plenty of fun, but the game could certainly use some more variety here.
That about wraps up everything I’d like to see added in Soul Sacrifice Delta. Soul Sacrifice is very far from being a bad game and is in my opinion still one of the Vita’s strongest merits, but it’s also very far from perfect. As long as Keiji Inafune and his team mixes in these new features, as well as more of what we already love (the lore, monsters, spells, arenas, Avalon pacts and story), then Delta could help the game reach its full potential. Although I could be jumping the gun on ever even playing Delta since the game is still only confirmed for release in Japan.
Which additions do you think could make Soul Sacrifice Delta a much better game than Soul Sacrifice?