The verdict is in, and it seems like Soul Sacrifice is an excellent reason to dust off your Vita, or finally bite the bullet and buy one. It’s a phenomenal game, with a unique premise, interesting story, and addictive gameplay that gets better with three other friends. It’s the kind of game you’ll want to dive into headfirst, exploring all the nooks and crannies of its combat and character development. Consider this a quick-start guide and cheat sheet then, aimed at getting newcomers rolling as fast as possible. Some of Soul Sacrifice’s concepts are tricky to get a handle on initially, and we’re here to get you to the good stuff ASAP.
How do offerings/magic work?
Sorcerers in Soul Sacrifice cast their spells by consuming and sacrificing objects (called offerings). When you customize your character you’ll be able to equip up to six offerings, which get used up by casting spells. Consider them your six weapons, and the number of casts for each is the amount of ammo you have. The trick is that if you use all your ammo, the gun breaks and you can’t get it back until the fight is over. Fights in Soul Sacrifice are about making your spells count or facing the consequences.
If you cast a spell too many times, the offering is lost. You’ll be unable to cast the spell again for the rest of the battle (a death sentence when it’s, say, your healing spell). You’ll also have to pay Lacrima (a limited resource you gain over time) to repair the offering. Bottom line: don’t over-cast your spells unless the situation is life-or-death. To keep offerings from breaking, defeat smaller enemies in the environment and sacrifice them to recharge. There are also hidden spots in the environment, usually denoted by trees, flags, barrels, or piles of bones, that allow you to recharge your offerings. Spot them by pressing down on the d-pad to enter Mind’s Eye view and spot white glowing objects.
Lastly, you can boost your offerings by combining doubles of the same item. You’re going to accrue a ton of the same items, and you can “Boost” by pressing Triangle in the Satchel/Inventory screen. Combine two of the same item to increase the number of casts, indicated by a gold star on the item. Combine two gold-star items to create a new item with two gold stars and even more casts. Combine again for three-star items. Lastly, by combining two three-star items, you’ll level up that item to an even more powerful tier.
What are the benefits of Divine/Dark/Neutral levels?
To put it in simple terms, saving is divine (blue), sacrificing is dark (red), and a mix of both equally is neutral (green). Divine levels fuel your character’s Life (defense and life recovery), while Dark levels fuel your Magic (damage output). Soul Sacrifice lets you level up from 1 to 100, and how you balance your Divine and Dark levels greatly influences the kind of role you’ll play. A 50/50 (50 levels of Divine, 50 levels of Dark) is well-rounded, 99/1 is an extreme healer/tank, and 1/99 is a glass cannon that will likely die in one hit but packs a huge punch. You can choose one of the extremes, or anything in between, and they all have different benefits. As the difference between your Divine and Dark levels increase, your sorcerer’s arm will mutate to reflect it. It’s a representation of how Divine or Dark you are, but as your arm levels up you’ll get access to better stat buffs as well.
Here are all the arms you can get:
No difference – Neutral Arm
1 Level of difference – Divine Arm I / Dark Arm I
5 Level of difference – Divine Arm II / Dark Arm II
10 Level of difference – Divine Arm III / Dark Arm III
15 Level of difference – Divine Arm IV / Dark Arm IV
90 Level of difference – Divine Arm V / Dark Arm V
98 Level of difference – Divine Arm VI / Dark Arm VI
Obviously you’ll have to be pretty committed if you want to utilize those last two arms, and you’ll pretty much be helpless without teammates to make up the difference. Smaller differences in levels are going to be better for players just starting out, especially working your way through the single-player campaign.
What the heck are Life Essences / Soul Essences (LE, LE+, LE++, etc.)?
When you defeat enemies, you’re given the option to Save or Sacrifice them. Depending on the type of enemy, and whether they have good souls or evil ones, your choice can be a bit tricky. Saving a normal Goblin soul, for example, might provide +3 experience to your Divine level, while a good Goblin soul might provide +8 experience to Divine and -4 to Dark. Beyond experience bonuses, though, each soul you collect can be considered an item that you keep, known as an essence. Saving a Goblin gives you a Goblin LE or Life Essence, while sacrificing provides a Goblin SE or Soul Essence. If the experience difference is much higher for Saving vs. Sacrificing or vice/versa, you may get an LE+, LE++, SE+, or SE++. Consider these Soul Sacrifice’s equivalent of random loot drops, the benefits of which become clearer when you start talking about the next question…
Why should I Carve Sigils and how do I unlock them?
When you customize your character you can pick from a collection of stat buffs to apply to their arm. These are called Sigils, and your sorcerer carves them into their arm because they’re crazy badasses. You can equip a total of 5 Sigils on your arm broken up into three different genres:
2 Sigils for your Upper Arm.
2 Sigils for your Forearm.
1 Sigil for your Palm.
This is where all this Divine/Dark Arm and Life/Soul Essence nonsense starts to make more sense. Sigils generally have a % effectiveness and a bonus effectiveness for sorcerers who meet certain arm requirements, whether it’s Divine Arm I, Dark Arm II, or a Neutral Arm. Generally they allow you to take the extremes you’re pushing towards and buff them up even further, so Divine Sigils tend to benefit life and defense, while Dark Sigils increase attack damage.
You’ll also notice that certain Sigils are locked. As you play the game, Saving and Sacrificing your way to victory, you’ll discover new Sigils and can view the requirements to unlock them by highlighting them and pressing Square. The requirements will be certain LE/SEs from particular enemies, meaning you’ll have to find the right missions and farm for the essences you need. + and ++ essences are required to get the really good Sigils.
What are the benefits of Sacrificing partners and Ghost Mode?
In co-op you’ll have the chance to Save or Sacrifice your own teammates. This is an exciting mechanic because Sacrificing a teammate casts an uber-powerful spell that wreaks havoc on big enemies. Many times those 1/99 glass cannon characters I was referring to earlier will do as much damage as they can, and then go out with a bang by offering themselves for Sacrifice. It adds a substantial wrinkle to the simple revival mechanic in most online games.
But what do players who are sacrificed do from there? Dead players enter into Ghost Mode, a sort of spectator view where they can survey the action. They’ll have a clear view of everyone’s health bars, allowing them to provide intel and coach the remaining team to victory. What’s more, by tapping and holding your finger on enemies or co-op buddies you’ll be able to lower defenses or raise attack for a limited time.
How do I manage my Gear / Sigil loadouts?
As you play Soul Sacrifice you’ll find yourself swapping out offerings before big battles and preparing the best loadouts for a particular fight. Once you have gear loadouts you like for a particular battle, you should hit R and save that loadout for easy access. You can even rename the loadout for reference. My recommendation? Create a loadout for each element, so that you can go all-out on an enemy you know is weak to certain offerings. You can also build your Sigil loadout to match and save that in the Sigil screen through the same method.
What are the Elemental weaknesses and Skillful Attacks?
Of course, once you get into the business of carefully crafted loadouts, you’ll want to know what’s weak to what. I’ll leave the discovery of what enemies have what weaknesses for you, but here are the basics:
Heat enemies are weak to Frost
Frost enemies are weak to Volt
Volt enemies are weak to Stone
Stone enemies are weak to Venom
Venom enemies are weak to Heat
In addition, hitting enemies enough with the same attack can cause status ailments. For example, Jack o’ Lanterns are weak to Frost attacks, and hitting them enough times with Frost will eventually turn them into a solid block of ice temporarily, known as Frozen Hell. You can cause status ailments like this with any element on any enemy, but it’s going to hurt more if you go for their weaknesses.
Once an enemy is cursed with an ailment, you can even go a step further and use a Skillful Attack. The trick here is to cause an ailment, and then hit the enemy with the element that ailment is weak to. In that example of freezing a Jack o’ Lantern, you could follow up with a Volt attack, since Frost is weak to Volt.
How do I unlock additional Black Rites?
Black Rites are all-or-nothing attacks that double as Soul Sacrifice’s most metal form of sorcery. Black Rites sacrifice the sorcerer’s body parts in order to perform an incredibly powerful attack. There’s a cost for using them, and the downsides stay with you until you undo them, paid for with Lacrima. Here’s what they do and how you unlock each one:
Infernus (Unlocked for all players) – Sacrifice your skin for a powerful Heat attack that damages all enemies. Your defense is halved as a consequence.
Gleipnir (Unlocked at Dark/Magic Level 20) – Sacrifice your right arm as a chain that binds one enemy, damaging them and leaving them open to other players to attack. You lose all your Sigil bonuses as a consequence.
Excalibur (Unlocked at Dark/Magic Level 40) – Sacrifice your heart for a magical sword that damages one enemy. You constantly lose health as a consequence.
Gorgon (Unlocked at Divine/Life Level 20) – Sacrifice your eye to gain an area attack that pierces and petrifies multiple enemies. You have severely limited vision as a consequence.
Vulcan (Unlocked at Divine/Life Level 40) – Sacrifice your heart to gain a constant healing area, a force attack that knocks away enemies, and allow allies to gain a sword from you. Your health is halved as a consequence.
Berserker (Unlocked by downloading a free DLC pack) – Sacrifice your brain. It expands and you can float around the field drawing enemies into a powerful vortex. Your offerings are shuffled and hidden as a result, so you have to guess what button does what.
How do I unlock blacked-out Avalon Pacts?
Avalon Pacts are the game's non-story quests that can be played by yourself or with up to three other players. Once you’re done with the story, this is the meat and potatoes of the game. Some of the pacts are blacked out and trickier to unlock than others. Many of them are unlocked by completing the story, but some require you to play previous Pacts a certain way to unlock them. This is generally denoted by an arrow pointing from one Pact to another. Sometimes it will mean both Saving and Sacrificing a boss monster by playing the mission twice.
How do Sorcerer Ranks work?
Soul Sacrifice is unique in that its take on traditional grinding is largely devoid of any random chance. Aside from Life and Soul Essences, the items you receive are generally known quantities. Offerings are earned by playing particular missions and achieving high scores to get the best rewards. The game rewards points for a variety of actions such as Saving or Sacrificing, avoiding attacks, countering, finishing quests quickly, finding elemental weaknesses, hitting enemy weak points, using Skillful Attacks, using Black Rites, getting sacrificed, and activating Mind’s Eye. Each of these actions adds up toward your final score and Sorcerer Rank, which determines the quality of the loot you get. The ranks are as follows, from best to worst:
Sorcerer in Training
Along with that, getting sacrificed or using a Black Rite will earn Martyr rewards. The value of going for these or not will vary from mission to mission.
And that’s that. If you have additional questions, you’re probably already on your way to defeating Magusar, but feel free to ask in the comments section!
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