Sony learned a lesson or two from Demon’s Souls. The platform holder actually helped From Software construct the cult title, publishing the release as an exclusive in Japan. However, the company passed on a western version, a decision that Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida rues to this very day. Following a successful localisation from Atlus, third-party outfit Namco Bandai partnered with the title’s developer to create multiplatform successor Dark Souls, a title that has sold over 2 million copies to date.
The tough lesson has changed the way that the platform holder handles its Japanese developed games. Gravity Rush garnered an unusually large marketing push overseas, though sceptics may argue that this was partially propelled by the dearth of PlayStation Vita titles available at the time. Nevertheless, the company has also put a large emphasis on Japan Studio developed titles such as Rain and Puppeteer over the past couple of months, with both being announced in Germany at GamesCom. But the change in attitude can be best observed in its treatment of Soul Sacrifice.
Keiji Inafune’s dark fantasy adventure is an extremely niche product, but it’s secured a fair amount of western support over the past couple of months. Not only has the company managed to turn the localisation around in a fairly swift time, but it’s also given the title a decent push in channels such as the PlayStation Blog. It’s not going to be challenging for a spot atop the sales charts – we wouldn’t be surprised if it skipped out on next week’s UK top forty entirely – but it’s already building up a fanbase in hardcore circles such as on this very website.
And that’s good because there’s plenty of opportunity for the gloomy action adventure to grow. While the title was originally billed as the platform holder’s answer to Monster Hunter, it actually has a much more rounded personality of its own. The moral mechanic that underlines the experience raises some interesting quandaries, and while there’s certainly room for the ideas to be further fleshed out, the publisher has established a strong foundation to build on. As such, it’s going to be interesting to see which direction the company takes with the title’s inevitable sequel.
There’s already been plenty of speculation regarding a new instalment in the burgeoning series. Speaking with IGN last week, Inafune-san mentioned that he has some interesting ideas for a follow-up, and is in discussions with Sony to turn them into a reality. Shuhei Yoshida later retweeted the story on his account, implying that those discussions are going positively. Commercially, a new instalment would make sense – the game has had the desired effect in Japan, pushing the company’s struggling handheld above the 3DS for the first time during its week of release, and also growing some fairly long legs.
A sequel seems to be an inevitably, then, but it’s the direction of the said title that’s fascinating us. There are obvious improvements that could be made to the original – more enemy variety, improved visuals, perhaps even bigger parties – but we believe that there’s even greater room for expansion beyond that. Monster Hunter already has its own cross-platform console version, so why can’t Soul Sacrifice follow a similar path? The game’s never going to shed its handheld origins, of that we’re convinced, but a PlayStation 4 version with cross-save compatibility would certainly spread a smile across our souls.
The series’ grotesque art direction is already a highlight, but seeing it rendered in full 1080p on a widescreen television may be just what the franchise needs to further its chances in western regions, too. If the relatively impenetrable Demon’s Souls can spawn a blockbuster in the form of Dark Souls, then what’s stopping Soul Sacrifice from achieving a similar feat? Interoperability between the firm’s systems means that the series wouldn’t necessarily need to squander its origins on the handheld either. In fact, cross-platform compatibility could only serve to enhance the overall experience.
The possibilities are practically endless, but it depends on how Sony intends to nurture the franchise. Does it see a big future for the series globally, or does it want to continue to target its native market first and foster a niche audience in the west? The franchise’s lore is strong enough to provide the basis for a fully-fledged RPG or perhaps even an MMO, and though the suggestions seem unlikely, they at least offer an indication of the franchise’s impressive potential.
Whatever it decides to do, though, it’s just nice to see the company following through with some quality new Japanese properties. While the Vita may have struggled from a commercial stance, it’s become a real haven for new ideas. The likes of Gravity Rush and Soul Sacrifice already feel like pivotal parts of the PlayStation brand, and that’s a status that PSP analogues such as Patapon and Locoroco never came close to attaining. As such, we’re already anticipating the next chapter in each franchise.
What do you think is next for Soul Sacrifice? Would you like to see the series spread onto the PS4? Let us know in the comments section below.
What do you want out of a Soul Sacrifice sequel? (11 votes)
Focus on a bigger and better Vita game, please
A cross-platform release on PS4 would be ace
I actually think that the MMO idea sounds neat
Hmm, I don’t care because I don’t like the original
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