Since the inception of the PS Vita, there’s been a lot of bitching about it. Its lack of ball-busting exclusives, the complete lack of shits Sony give about it at trade shows, all of that sorry stuff.
In Sony’s eyes, the handheld has become a pervy little family secret. Like Cousin Joe. The one nobody talks about, until Great Aunt Hilda gets drunk at Christmas and the whole ‘getting his wang out in the pet store’ thing comes to light again.
But we’re getting off topic. As far as unique exclusives go, one thing the Vita does have to offer is Soul Sacrifice. Buckle up, gentlemen, because that’s unique in the sense of batshit crazy.
Our ol' buddy, floaty book-face.
Some games are a little strange. Some are a lot strange. And some are strange enough to make Doctor Strange himself say things like, “what the balls? This is just too much effing strange, right here.” This is one of those mothers.
This is the brainchild of Keiji Inafune, who has been kicking our asses all over the place for decades with Mega Man. It’s a macabre kind of hunting game, like Monster Hunter but with attacks involving ripping out your own freaking eyeballs and throwing them. Not to mention a cast of hideous demons from the depths of the devil’s ass, who look like they forgot to put their skin on before getting out of bed and leaving the house.
So, y’know, not too much like Monster Hunter at all.
The setup is that you’re the slave of a megalomaniacal and all-round uncool sorcerer, who is about to sacrifice you to fuel his magical bastardry. In your creepy prison you find a talking book, bound with human flesh, staring at you with the actual freaking eye embedded in its cover (nothing screwy so far, then). It is the journal of a past mage, and serves as the game’s hub. Reading its pages, you relive the other non-evil dude’s memories, which become the stages of Soul Sacrifice.
Sacrificing the very soul of some dying rats. Because that's just how we do things around here.
It’s an arena combat game, which pits you against some fancy-ass beasts known as Archfiends. These are fellow sorcerers who have transformed, their souls corrupted by greed, lust or whichever sin it happens to be. You whup their asses using different spells, from throwy/explodey ones to big ol’ magical swordy ones.
Your huge, eff off, now-I-kill-your-face-right-in-the-face attacks are known as Black Rites. This forbidden magic wrecks all kinds of shit, in exchange for savaging you as well. That eyeball-ripping deathly death beam, the fiery explosion that burns you effing skin off… it’s just not a good time.
The concept, the setting and the gameplay itself is brilliantly bizarre, and probably among the creepiest thing games have ever seen. It’s like something Tim Burton would come up with in one of his more demented cheese-fuelled nightmares.
Then there are the Archfiend designs themselves. That’s where it all gets a little too much for us, and we need to lie down awhile.