Soul Sacrifice explores the landscape of human greed

While the most obvious theme found in Soul Sacrifice is sacrifice, the ability to sacrifice your character's body parts, friends and even soul for special powers, the upcoming Playstation Vita title is really more about exploring the landscape of human greed.

While the most obvious theme found in Soul Sacrifice is sacrifice, the ability to sacrifice your character's body parts, friends and even soul for special powers, the upcoming Playstation Vita title is really more about exploring the landscape of human greed.

"All of the stages of the game are born out of human greed," developer Keiji Inafune said.

In Soul Sacrifice players take on the role of a person locked in a prison cell by a "savage sorcerer". As the character awaits to be sacrificed, they discover a mysterious book. The book chronicles the battles between monsters and sorcerers. While examining it, the player somehow finds themselves inside the book. The object of the game is to battle through the book in order to break free of the prison cell in the game's main world.

"The player relives the chapters and episodes of the book," Inafune said.

During the meeting, Inafune showed someone playing an episode, offering a first real glimpse at Soul Sacrifice in action. Before playing through a chapter or mission of the game, players have to select and set up their character. The characters of Soul Sacrifice are highly customizable, players can not only change their costume but also tinker with their appearance, gender and the spells they use. Players choose two sets of three different types of magic.

We didn't get a look at how the different spells worked, but it appeared that there were quite a few. While setting up the character for the mission, the player scrolled through pages and pages of spells, listed seven across on the right side of a virtual book displayed on the Vita's screen.

Once a player is done with the customization, they enter the level of the game.

From what we saw of the gameplay, Soul Sacrifice is a detailed third-person action game that involve lots of over-the-top attacks and over-sized weapons. The player maneuvers the character through relatively non-descript cavernous rooms, attacking monsters with button mashing chain-attacks.

In Soul Sacrifice, your mission is to dispatch monsters, Inafune told us, but these are not just ordinary monsters, they were all human once.

"Each have overused the magic powers in order to satisfy their own greed," he said. "Each monster has a backstory to how they ended up as they appear."

The example monsters we saw included a harpy, minotaur, cerberus, and a slime, which all looked like unusual takes on known archetypical monsters.

"These are our interpretation of the fantasy monsters," he said.

During the demo, when the player defeated a monster, the monster reverted to his or her human form and then pleaded with the player not to kill them, explaining how they had become so monstrous. The player then has to hold the right or left trigger to either save or sacrifice the pleading human. In particular demo, it was a woman.

"The story can be very sad," Inafune said, "and it kind of gives you this feeling of guilt for defeating her."

Depending on the quest you are going on and the the choices you make, it unlocks a different story that leads to new episodes, he said.

Our brief glimpse of the game, left me feeling like it was a bit like Monster Hunter; a customizable character prepares for a mission by selecting a load out and then drops into a level designed around hunting lesser enemies until you find the boss and defeat it with giant weapons. Defeating that boss ends the level, in this case a chapter.

Of course, Soul Sacrifice has some major twists. There is the ability to make sacrifices during battle, something hard to fully grasp in action in the short demo we saw. The journey through a landscape of human greed and sin also sounds flush with opportunity, but the demo we saw was in Japanese, so we were unable to hear the backstory of any of the creatures killed.

Following the demo, Inafune explained that this was a game he has been wanting to make for a long time. Part of the reason why he decided to create it for the Vita is because of the game's heavy use of ad-hoc gameplay. While a person could play through the game on their own, or even play through without making any sacrifices, it sounds like neither of those situations will be the norm.

Inafune added that the game's story mode is an important part of the game.

"I would say that the story is set to be very robust because each of the episodes have different deep back stories and they illustrate a lot of emotion," he said. "The more you unlock the stories the more you find out."

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