Soul Sacrifice: Monster Hunter in different clothing?

Can Soul Sacrifice carve out its own niche, or is it riding on the success of its predecessors?

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This week at its pre-TGS press conference, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan announced that Soul Sacrifice--its Vita-exclusive action RPG collaboration between Marvelous AQL, Japan Studio and Keiji Inafune’s company Comcept--has been delayed until Spring of 2013. While the game will make the jump from the East to the West at a later stage, international release windows haven’t yet been confirmed. As part of behind-closed-doors presentations and a hands-on demo here at TGS, the team revealed additional details about the game, and we can’t help but get a distinctive Monster Hunter vibe from what we’ve seen so far.

The game’s premise is simple: a demon book tells you what monstrosities you need to take on, and you and up to three friends crack some fantasy-creature skulls in search of glory and gear. The twist is that the game allows you to sacrifice items, enemies, your body parts, and even members of your own team to create weapons, boost your health, and imbue buffs that improve combat effectiveness.

However, while the basics of loot lust and big, nasty creatures to slay may sound familiar, there's one major difference: the development team is banking on the addition of player choice to make this a slightly more cerebral experience than your typical hack and slash adventure. For each enemy you kill, you will be given the choice of either salvaging or sacrificing their souls; and in the process, helping put a little consideration into your bloody rampage. While the game takes place in a dark fantasy setting, many of the boss creatures we’ve seen so far blend human and animal forms, such as Hydras with people faces, bipedal wolf creatures, and warped cherubs. Perhaps the team figures it’ll be tougher to pull the trigger on a mockery of nature when it looks more like the old woman you see walking her poodle at your local park than the tortured sketches found in the back of your average teenager’s high school textbooks.

Everything has potential to be a weapon in Soul Sacrifice, and while casually plucking out your eyeball and turning it into something a little more deadly sounds cool (because it is) doing so will come at the expense of something else. Opting for a weapon built on one on your peepers impacts your vision, adding a persistent penalty to your field of view. How long the effects last still remain unclear at this stage, but the system shifts the mentality away from unlimited ammo and regenerative shields and health to a more micromanagement-focused, finite resource that players need to monitor and spend carefully to stay alive and progress., rather than spam incessantly.

Rather than penalise players who wade in weapons hot and end up on the wrong side of the health bar, those who fall in combat give their squadmates a chance to either exercise benevolence by resurrecting them, or use them as a destructive battery waiting to be drained; activating a fiery meteor shower at the cost of them able to continue to participate. There’s no game over screen or reset if someone in the unit dies. Instead, you continue on in spirit form, taking on an overwatch role that allows you to easily monitor other players, share buffs, and weaken the enemy by tapping on the Vita’s touch screen.

Like the other popular action RPG titles Soul Sacrifice appears to be drawing inspiration from, a heavy emphasis is being placed on coordinated attacks. While you’ll be able to play it as a solo handheld experience, the game benefits from involving others in the hunt. Summoning a stone shield protects weak members of your crew; slowing time provides a window for compatriots to charge up a bigger attack, or allows a fellow soldier the chance to summon helpers that spew out elemental attacks.

Inafune conceded that the social experiences that have become synonymous with games such as Monster Hunter and God Eater have gained the most traction in markets like Japan where handheld ownership is high, and people meet in person to play together. With Soul Sacrifice setting its sights on a global audience, he hopes the game will be the catalyst to kick start similar gaming gatherings around the world.

Japanese composers Wataru Hokoyama (Afrika) and Yasumoni Mitusda (Chrono Trigger, Xenoblade Chronicles) have been tapped to work on the game’s soundtrack, with recording being done at Skywalker Sound.

While there’s no doubt that the addition of the sacrificial mechanic gives players a healthy dollop of choice to determine which powers to use, and when, it’s impossible to ignore the well-worn footsteps the game is stepping in; and as a result, the inevitable comparisons with its contemporaries. Is there room in the action RPG space for another contender? Stay tuned for more details on Soul Sacrifice ahead of the game’s launch on the PlayStation Vita next year.

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Discussion

21 comments
duuuuuuude1
duuuuuuude1

Repetitive, but solidly fun.  Damn good title for this system...

criticalmigz
criticalmigz

..ive been a MH fan,since the beginning..then finally seemed to notice the dullness or may have reached their peaks... now they had MH4,and had little add-ons from its previous installments..for a gamer who's REALLY looking for a bad-ass game,might end up wanting to play ,i would suggest ,SS(soul sacrifice), coz it adds up all of whats missing in MH,the creativity,flexibility,and many things that spices up the game..usually MH was just hack and slash,but im glad the latest release they had was fun,but if u played it since their first  MH,youd probably be ending up looking for another game,searching for what MH doesnt have for very long years... MH4 in 3ds by the way, i didnt see slight improvements n the graphics...but still hands down to the ones created MH, but i still know something better outside MH... 

BrainFriiz
BrainFriiz

Between Ys, FFX HD, and now this, I might be picking up a Vita within a year. I'll be happy to support Mr. Inafune to see if he's more than big talk.

j2zon2591
j2zon2591

Have you guys really checked out the trailer? I find inconsistent FPS and heavy screen tearing.. It's not my PC or laptop either.

 

I hope they polish it a year from now.

Gue1
Gue1

YS Celceta

Soul Sacrifice

Ragnarok Odyssey

God Eater 2

 

These are all the Monster Hunter rip offs that the Vita has. 

tgwolf
tgwolf

Ummm, that's a big yes, but that's not saying much since Monster Hunter was really so verrry dry and monotonous. I would welcome about anything else with more flavor, sad though that is...

Pieter101
Pieter101

Hmm this makes me thinking of buying a PSV. Cuz MH series switched to DS and Wii i quit playing it. But tbh this game looks better. Its more badass than MH series with creatures more weird, and a fun magic like system.

Ofc the Hack and slash looks brute to ;)

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

Looks so much like a Souls games to me, which is an incredible honor in my opinion :)

shinspikes
shinspikes

A much needed game for the vita.  But, because we will never get Monster hunter on the ps3, I wish these other games would come to the console using its full capability.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

Again, text isn't live.

 

Gamespot- Live Now:Tokyo Game Show 2012

 

Seriously?!

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

Sounds interesting, currently deciding between an overpriced WiiU or a nicely priced Vita... Will be nice to have a monster hunter type game on the vita... and well the only reason i'm not buying the vita right now is the lack of interesting games on it.

Kalithro
Kalithro

@BrainFriiz SS, YS, PSO2, (maybe FFX HD for me) all good reasons to have a Vita.  PSP and PS1 games on the Vita are great.  I have FF1 & FF2, and MHFU.  Also, I like the YouTube App on my Vita 10x better than the YouTube App on my phone.  I like how the Vita lets me multitask with searching for YouTube videos and watching them, and searching the PSN store.  I think I am going to pick up "The 3rd Birthday" next.

zerodevilx
zerodevilx

@Gue1 what can we do capcom is an ass esp when they killed rockman/megaman

Zenpukki
Zenpukki

 @Gue1 Do some research before posting, Idiot. While I agree that SS, RO, and GE was just another MH clone with tweak, Ys has came a long time before Monster Hunter.

j2zon2591
j2zon2591

 @Gue1 I don't think Y's is but the rest you mentioned.. definitely!

criticalmigz
criticalmigz

 @Pieter101 somehow right..ive been a MH fan,since the beginning..then finally seemed to notice the dullness or may have reached their peaks... now they had MH4,and had little add-ons from its previous installments..for a gamer who's REALLY looking for a bad-ass game,might end up wanting to play ,i would suggest ,SS(soul sacrifice), coz it adds up all of whats missing in MH,the creativity,flexibility,and many things that spices up the game..usually MH was just hack and slash,but im glad the latest release they had was fun,but if u played it since their first  MH,youd probably be ending up looking for another game,searching for what MH doesnt have for very long years...

AndCarlsen
AndCarlsen

 @JimmeyBurrows You get a WiiU for U$ 300, but the Vita isn't far off. It is U$ 250 plus the memory card. Basically the same price.

miso870
miso870

 @j2zon2591  @Gue1 It's Ys (pronounced like eece in fleece), and in no way is it a Monster Hunter clone. Valhalla Knights, now that's a Monster Hunter clone. Surprisingly, it's also made by Marvelous like Soul Sacrifice.