Soul Sacrifice was one of last year’s best original PlayStation Vita games, bringing the monster hunting subgenre to the portable with Keiji Inafune’s own personal twist. Now we’re back with this new title, Soul Sacrifice Delta; it’s not quite a enhanced version and yet not a sequel either – the game is something… different, and I’m here to tell you why.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – Soul Sacrifice Delta is the game that Soul Sacrifice should have been. While Soul Sacrifice was surely a great game and had no real flaws per se, Soul Sacrifice Delta is a near perfect version of that same game idea – adding pretty much everything you could have asked for after experiencing the first game, and doing so with a much more beautiful flair than the original.
Delta has organized its story portions into the clearly distinct styles of play, though it keeps the main sorcerer excursions such as those with Sortiara and Magusar separate. The brunt of the story still occurs over these two sorcerer pacts, though it also seeps into the Avalon, Sanctuarium and Grim levels. Completing these levels will help unlock additional levels to play from the Pacts section (which includes roman numeral numbered quests and forgotten pacts styled like those from the original), extending the game much further than just the end of the story. There’s also an additional few missions to be added to the Magusar chapter, so don’t think that was settled in the first game either. To top it all off is a battle with a God that I’ll leave you to experience sans my commentary. There’s clearly no lack of content here, at least for the first time player (I’ll come back to this a bit later).
The quests in the game play out like any other monster hunting game, giving you an enemy to defeat and then a location to defeat them in. Enemies have different affiliations, aligning them into types based on the different elements included in the game. These elemental types then have weaknesses based on their elemental opposites – giving enemies like the fire-affinity rats a natural weakness to ice-type attacks, or ice-affinity cats a weakness to electric-type attacks. This weakness/element adversity is what drives the game’s play strategy and when used properly can get you from a lowly level 1/1 to a maxed out character lickety-split. It’s a really basic system, but one that’s been tried and tested to work on a large scale – and it works well here, just like in the original.
New additions to the game include directly playable features like the Grim faction (a leave-it-to-fate option between the dark faction Avalon, and the light faction Sanctuarium) and the blank page system (a random quest generator which takes unique payment in order to generate random mission pages). There are also semi-cosmetic or indirect features which have been added such as a slayer’s points system (which denotes your title name though SP gained in quests), a bazaar ledger (which houses four unique characters with their own businesses), the Ars Magica (an offering catalog and leveling system) and the faction system itself.
Sorcerous Deeds is the only section of the mad chronicle that hasn’t been directly carried over from the first game, though the first four Avalon sections (up to Knight of Vengeance) seem to be pulled directly from the original. The entirety of the Sanctuarium, Grimm and Pacts sections seem to be brand new pacts though – and those are really the meat of the game (aside from the story).
Now, let’s address that little bonus for returning players; the save transfer. If you’re like me, you’ve already played the original and want to bring your save over – but let me warn you; there are a bunch of benefits and a few possible negatives (depending on your point of view) to doing so.
First things first though, to carry your save over you simply boot up the title and start a new game. If you’ve got Soul Sacrifice‘s save on your memory card, it’ll automatically pick it up and ask to transfer – just accept the prompt and create a new save to transfer the data to, then it’ll walk you through the rest (and what exactly transfers).
Speaking of what transfers, while things like your appearance will follow you to the new game, your level is one thing that doesn’t carry over – so say goodbye to that maxed out build from the first game. You do get to keep your offerings (with up to ten of each offering transferring over from the first title) and your black rites, though sigils you’ve acquired that transfer won’t be unlocked fully until you’ve fulfilled the requirements for joining each faction.
You can also expect a part of Avalon to be completed, the bulk of the Magusar and Sortiara quests to be completed and any trophies you already qualify for to pop after your first mission. Your offerings (if you’re like me and had a ton) will qualify you for a bunch of bonuses in the new system as well – so you’ll be off to a good start as far as offerings and rumors go. Your Ars Magica (the catalog of your magic) will fill retroactively with any offerings you’ve acquired and your INT level will reflect that.
The only downside to this transfer is that directly after it you’re likely overpowered (I had a ton of full gold offerings with three stars) and a fair portion of the game is complete for you. If you’re like me and are planning on playing this game past completion (just for fun), this might not matter; however if you’re someone who likes to “build up” their character and feel a constant challenge on everything you might want to start anew.
The multiplayer aspect of the game doesn’t seem too have changed much from the first game, offering a four player ad-hoc or infrastructure connection between players who can then attack the quests from the “Pacts” heading, downloaded quests (DLC) or a blank page task together. It unlocks after you complete the requirements for joining the various factions, and just like the original isn’t available at the start of the game. Once unlocked however, I found no problem connecting to a game or setting up my own, and there’s enough settings included to get you into just the type of game you want to play. The online mode is pretty perfect, I’ve got no qualms with them keeping it pretty much the same mechanically.
The controls are very much the same as the first title, with “X” mapped to dodge/run, and circle/square/triangle mapped to attacks. You have two attack menus, and can switch between them with “R” for a total of six standard attacks. You also have a black rite available which is activated using the touch screen. The movement and camera look have been mapped to the left and right analog sticks, and down on the d-pad is mapped to mind’s eye (where you can see damage levels and the different interact-able parts around the map). It’s pretty simple to master once you’ve played a little, and players of the original will be right at home.
Graphically, Delta is much improved compared to the original – the textures and output resolution of the game getting a huge bump in quality and quantity. Where there were jaggies before, there are almost none now – the smoothness of the edges going way up with the bump in resolution. The textures in the levels have been bumped up as well and levels have been slightly redesigned to look more smooth and less last-gen. They’ve really done a good job making the game look better than the original, and is easily one of the most dramatic improvements in a second Vita release of a series I’ve seen.
The audio in Delta seems pretty much the same as in the first game, and still only features English audio in the main release (boo!). It features sound effects that seem clearer than the original but not of a better caliber or realism. The voice acting is still pretty bad, and the background music is still pretty strange. Let’s just be thankful it’s not any worse, shall we?
Soul Sacrifice Delta is more of the same game Soul Sacrifice had to offer, only with better organization of pacts and offerings (as well as new examples of each), better graphics, a new theme and a new mode. If you liked the original, you’ll probably like this game too – but if you avoided the original for its minor (or nagging) issues you might want to take another look. Delta has clearly addressed a lot of issues that people had with the original, making for a much more polished experience.
It’s not quite a sequel, definitely not a remaster and something more than an enhanced version; but in my opinion it’s definitely worth your time. Go pick up Soul Sacrifice Delta right now, you won’t be sorry.
Check out some screens I pulled from my play-through;
Note; There’s a day-one patch that’s ~38MB and includes a new quest called “Alice’s Eternal Maze”, a new episode called “A Voice Lost” located under the Grim heading of “Sorcerous Deeds”, Additional Pacts IV, new blank page rewards, and other improvements/bug fixes. Be sure to grab it ASAP!