Developer: Marvelous AQL/Comcept/SCE Japan Studio
After dedicating dozens of hours hunting down the foulest of Archfiends and creatures, it's a safe bet that Soul Sacrifice was one of my top three PS Vita releases of 2013. So as a fan, more Soul Sacrifice is not a bad thing. Even though it's not the sequel we have been patiently waiting for, Soul Sacrifice Delta is an enhanced, content packed "ultimate edition" that PS Vita owners certainly should consider checking out.
For the uninitiated, Soul Sacrifice/Delta is a Monster Hunter-style game with a decidedly evil tone thanks to its twisted fairy tale-inspired creatures and mythos. You play the role of a soon-to-be-sacrificed slave who stumbles upon a living book that allows him to relive the memories of sorcerer tasked with defeating an evil sorcerer that may be the key to escaping captivity and/or surviving. The story, which is narrated by the main character and told in a unique page flipping, book/motion comic format, is deep, fairly disturbing and surprisingly interesting. Even when you can't follow what the hell is going on (at least half the time), reading up on the lore behind the creatures and the setting of Soul Sacrifice is rather fascinating.
Soul Sacrifice Delta builds upon the story of the original Soul Sacrifice and features some new twists and turns, and enough changes to keep fans of Soul Sacrifice both busy and interested. For those who own the original version, game saves/content and equipment can be transferred over to Delta — including story progression (to an extent), although not everything is 100% unlocked from the onset. For those just getting into the series, playing or owning Soul Sacrifice isn't a requirement, since all the content (and much more) is included here.
What differentiates Soul Sacrifice Delta from plain vanilla Soul Sacrifice? Well, the original Soul Sacrifice was incredibly deep and occasionally overwhelming with a huge number of quests (pacts) to take on, equipment/weapons/accessories to find, Archfiends, sorcerers and monsters to slay (or save), abilities/offerings/sigils/black rites to unlock, levels to earn, techniques to learn, and oh so much more. Even after putting 50+ hours into the original game, there was always something new to do especially with online co-op gameplay and the release of new content and quests. Delta adds way more to the game including tons of new pacts, a whole new faction system, many new creatures to take down and characters to save, in addition to brand new spells/equipment/accessories and deeper customization options. Even as a Soul Sacrifice veteran it was difficult to wrap my head around all of the game additions at first.
Delta also has more than its fair share of enhancements, both visually and in terms of gameplay. The graphic engine has been optimized, and beyond adding new weather effects and dynamic structures to the arenas, the game seemingly outputs at a higher resolution. Soul Sacrifice Delta looks fantastic on the PS Vita's screen, and the fairy tale-inspired creatures and Archfiends are even more nightmare-inducing than before *shudder*. Three Little Pigs envisioned as a horribly twisted 3 headed abomination, or Snow White as a massive mirrored-eye cyclops with creepy apple minions is pretty damn freaky.
The tweaks to the gameplay in Delta will undoubtedly throw some Soul Sacrifice players off their game, but these changes were probably for the better. In the original, players could keep their distance from most dangerous creatures by spamming throw and long-distance elemental spells then going in for some heavy damage once they were incapacitated. In Delta, many of these abilities are nerfed in one way or another thanks to longer startup animations, weaker stats, or the general inability to fully inflict an elemental status. This was of course balanced out by adjusting the close and middle ranged spells and weapons and adding powerful new weapons, such as the spear, to encourage a little CQC. Players new to the series will probably adapt quickly, though experienced sorcerers will need to spend some time rethinking their strategies and loadouts. There is more than a fair share of changes to the already deep set of techniques available in Soul Sacrifice Delta.
A couple of the more dramatic updates in Delta involve the addition of a third "Grim" faction, along with the ability to remain neutral and neither Save nor Sacrifice your defeated enemies by choosing the new Fate option. Your actions on the battlefield and which faction you align with directly influence the rewards you earn for completing tasks and quests. By expanding on the largely binary arrangement in the first game, Delta feels like it takes a large step in evolving the Soul Sacrifice gameplay and character progression. There's an insane amount of customization options available in Delta, from weapon combinations and loadouts, to stackable sigils and consumable rumors — it's really a game that invites (and often requires) experimentation.
Like Soul Sacrifice, Delta most certainly has a learning curve and requires a bit of a commitment to "get into". Once players successfully progress to the point where they hunt down their first Archfiend, destroy its cursed/ill parts, inflict elemental hell and cut it down to size, they are sure to be hooked. As is typical of the genre, teaming up with other sorcerers in the online co-op is a large part of the Soul Sacrifice Delta's appeal. The single player can consume hundreds of hours of your life, but jumping online with 3 other players and hunting down rare Archfiends and top tier equipment is positively addicting. There's definitely an element of repetition in the game, so be warned.
If you're a PS Vita owner who passed on Soul Sacrifice and are still curious what this Monster Hunter fuss is all about, Soul Sacrifice Delta is a fine place to get started. This is by far the ultimate, complete Soul Sacrifice experience and even those who dumped countless hours into the original will find more than enough content and enhancements to keep them in the hunt.