Soul Sacrifice
| Soul Sacrifice

It's looking more and more likely that 2013 is going to be extremely kind to the PS Vita - hordes of indie games are getting ready to march onto the device in the coming months.

This is all well and good, but there are plenty of gamers understandably crying out for some good old-fashioned triple-A action to go with that order of indie.

Soul Sacrifice more than provides, with a ridiculously deep spell-crafting system, clever presentation, and multiplayer that may keep you going for many weeks to come.

Baring your soul

You are a slave to the all-powerful, all-crazy sorcerer Magusar, and you've been picked for sacrifice. With your time running out, Magusar's magic journal appears before you and offers to help you beat him.

By reading through the journal, you're able to piece together Magusar's life, discover why he's such a psychopath, and learn enough tricks of the trade such that you'll be able to take him on and secure your freedom.

It's a fantastic setup, and one that is backed up with brilliant storytelling that you'll genuinely care about. Even the book itself is brimming with personality, jumping around and handing out hints via its ugly front-cover face every once in a while.

The gameplay is focused around casting spells on monsters in a series of arenas, building up your magic knowledge, and using it to battle even tougher bad guys.

The more stories you conclude, the more you'll level-up, and the more powerful you'll become. Brilliantly you can actually choose to fight Magusar any time you like, even from the very beginning - but you'll want to wait a good dozen hours or so before you even consider that.

What a monster

If you're looking for a deep Monster Hunter-style RPG, you've come to the right place.

Crafting junkies are going to be right in their element. There are hundreds of spells to find, fuse, and experiment with, and tons of different strategies required depending on the boss battle you're about to face.

You've got special Sigil powers to burn into your right arm, the Mind's Eye view which helps your determine important elements of your surroundings, and the quite-remarkable Dark Rites system, which provides you with ridiculous amounts of power - but at a cost.

There's also the hugely rewarding save versus sacrifice system. When you kill an enemy, you can choose to save his soul and gain life for yourself, or sacrifice him and become more powerful. These decisions can also alter the storyline at times, meaning there are plenty of variables to consider.

Let's put it this way - if I attempted to mention absolutely every interesting, well-balanced feature that Soul Sacrifice provides, this review would probably require its own separate website.

And all of this is possible both in single-player and multiplayer, the latter of which will eat away at your life if you have Vita friends.

False start

With all this content on offer, it's a shame that Soul Sacrifice starts off so awkwardly.

For the first few hours, you're put through a series of what are essentially linear tutorials. It's obvious that the idea is to guide you in slowly, but it ends up feeling like an awfully slow bottleneck.

The controls are also a sticking point. Switching between the two sets of available spells during the heat of battle with enemies all over you can prove confusing - particularly given that the 'sacrifice' button is the same as for swapping through spells.

Several times when I tried to sacrifice an enemy too quickly I accidentally swapped spell sets without realising, then later ruined a perfectly good run by activating the wrong spell.

It's also difficult to activate Mind's Eye during combat, as this involves reaching across with your right hand so that you can continue to dart around with your left. It would be nice if you could mess around with the controls in the options menu, but, alas, the only other layout is far worse.

Despite these quirks, Soul Sacrifice is going to complement the vast array of indie games for PS Vita to a tee, offering up Monster Hunter-like action that is fit for both solo artists and those looking to get some friends onboard.

Soul Sacrifice

Deeper than the Grand Canyon and just as expansive, Soul Sacrifice will keep you and a bunch of friends going for some time
Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.