Soul Sacrifice Delta Review: Sorcerer's apprentice
The original Soul Sacrifice was easily one of my favorite titles on the Vita. There were a ton of things the game did right. The story was intriguing, the combat was satisfying, and the game had enough content to last you tens of hours. Soul Sacrifice Delta, the standalone follow-up not only retains the game's fantastic elements, but adds a whole new story faction, some brand new spells, levels and characters to join you on your grim adventure.
The core of Soul Sacrifice is retained through a brilliantly told story that is presented to the player as a series of chapters in a book. This book, Librom, is actually a living creature that acts as the player's tour guide through the entries and provides some comic relief in an otherwise dark and depressing setting. It is the story though that made me love Soul Sacrifice from start to finish.
As a fan of the dark story themes in games like Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, I was immediately drawn to the simplistic nature of how the story is presented. There are no cutscenes that depict the horrors the Sorcerer must endure. Instead, it's told through a series of heartbreaking chapters, all written in a way that makes you feel for the author and sympathize with his pain and loss.
Even though the game supports a save transfer from the original to Delta, I opted for a completely fresh experience. I found that even though I know the story, I was still very much moved by the way it was told.
The fantastic story is complemented by fast-paced action sequences in bite-sized levels. It's easy to place Soul Sacrifice Delta into the monster hunting genre, but it really plays a little more like an arena fighter. Each match has you either dispatching a select number of grotesque foes or a giant boss. The enemy designs, inventive as ever, go even further in Delta. Taking inspiration from Grimm's Fairy Tales (Grim also being one of the new Factions in the game) you'll face horrific monsters based off of classic tales like Snow White, or be treated to a level with giant statues of disembodied heads with long golden locks flowing from one to another, signifying Rapunzel. Soul Sacrifice Delta is a dark game through and through, and it shows through every aspect.
You'll meet various and interesting characters, each with their own backstory that gets fleshed out as you complete chapters of the book. From Sortiara, the author's first companion who suffers a heartbreaking fate, to the evil merchant who is maybe a bit more than meets the eye, or perhaps the young human boy raised by monsters and now living with guilt for murdering his mother. Yeah, the game is dark, and it's all the better for it.
Battles rely on equipping six Offerings into a pallete of three each, and then sacrificing them in order to cast a spell. Frozen pieces of rock become ice swords, a tree root will become a homing spell, entrails will become summonable monsters, and tons more. There are a sickening amount of combinations you can bring with you on the battlefield, and some even work together as a combo. For example, you can sacrifice a feather which lets you move really quick and a spear tip to summon a speared weapon. This combo will let you dash through the battlefield ending with a highly damaging weapon swing. Discovering these combos is easily half the fun.
Where Soul Sacrifice Delta differs even more from other Monster Hunter games is the lack of Stamina based movement. There is absolutely no Stamina to worry about, instead, each offering has limited amounts of uses. Players have to be mindful not to overuse an offering too much or it will become completely destroyed.
Like I mentioned, Delta comes with a completely new faction, Grim, as well as Avalon and Sanctuarium, and allows players to switch freely between their affiliation. Players also have a new option when choosing to Sacrifice or Save enemies. Previously, players had to choose between either Sacrificing, adding to their attack damage, or Saving, adding to their Hitpoints. Now players can choose Fate, which lets the game decide whether to Sacrifice or Save, but it adds to both attack and hitpoints. This is good for players who want their character to stay neutral, rather than focusing on Divine or Dark arms. Each of the three arms, Divine, Dark and Neutral come with their own benefits and tradeoffs.
With the main story, the three Guilds and tons of Pacts to take part in, the game contains an insane amount of content to keep you busy. Many of the pacts can also be played online with other Sorcerers, effectively extending the playtime exponentially. Delta also comes with a much crisper resolution, looking better than ever on the Vita's 5inch screen.
Soul Sacrifice Delta really is the ultimate package. It's easily the best game for the Vita, and it does everything right. There's a compelling and heartbreaking story with various twists and turns everywhere, bite sized missions that work perfectly on the handheld, a deep character customization with tons of unlockable spells and a multiplayer mode to take down horrific bosses with your friends.