Soul Sacrifice Delta aims to tempt bookworms back to the brutal pages of Librom – the sarcastic yet helpful novella that just so happens to provide a portal into the world of sorcerers. Initially pitched as one of the PlayStation Vita’s saviours, Keiji Inafune’s original adventure didn’t quite reverse the struggling format’s fortunes – but it did fill the Monster Hunter shaped hole in the system’s library. This is not a sequel to the original escapade, but is more of an updated re-release, featuring the entirety of last year’s outing, in addition to a bunch of improvements and a catalogue of new archfiends to take down.
Much like the inaugural affair, this enhanced foray thrusts you back into the grubby cage in which you spent the first game. Don’t worry if you’ve poured hundreds of hours into the previous expedition, as you’ll be able to bring forward your bookmark, with all of your right-arm enhancements (Sigils), spells (Offerings), special moves (Black Rites), costumes, allies, and quests making the transition. It’s worth noting that your Magic and Life levels will not be transferred, but you will instead be awarded with buffs that double the rate of the experience points that you’ll earn, depending on the character that you bring forward.
If you’re a first time reader, the game takes place in arena-like maps with huge grotesque monsters that you must bring down. A constant complaint pointed at the original was that it lacked diversity in this area, with many of the monsters repeated multiple times, using the frustratingly transparent terminology ‘doppelgangers’. Fortunately, repetition is now less of an issue, as there are plenty of new archfiends to keep you busy. Many of these have adopted a fairy tale spin, with the likes of Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood along for the ride. Ordinarily, these wouldn’t sound especially interesting, but when the likes of the Three Little Pigs represent a giant bore body with two heads as hands, it all adopts a rather more twisted approach. This variety is appreciated, but it’s a shame that you still have to kill the same rats hundreds of times.
At least the combat has been revamped with new balancing improvements. In the vanilla version of the game, the throwing spells were overpowered, allowing you to hang back and deal plenty of damage. To counteract this, a second-long cool down animation has been added to these attacks, prompting your protagonist to stumble forward a bit when casting a spell. Moreover, the once useless ground attacks have been enhanced in order to make them more viable, with support spells also overhauled in order to make them an important part of your strategy. The additions – while sometimes subtle – truly do go a long way towards improving the experience, and the already decent combat is buttery slick in this edition as a result.
That said, there’s still a steep learning curve if you’re a newcomer. While the game is generally more accessible than its contemporaries, it leaves you to your own devices much of the time. This means that you’ll need to take some time to understand how everything works. The best way to learn is to stick with it and it will click, but you’ll need to be willing to make that investment first, which really doesn’t seem right. You absolutely shouldn’t let the above discourage you if you’re interested in trying the game, but it’s worth taking into account.
Elsewhere, many of the new improvements actually take place outside of the battle arena. Along with fresh quests, there are now three different factions that you can align yourself with. Avalon encourages you to sacrifice everything, while Sanctuary is more about saving everything. Sitting in the middle is the new addition named Grim, which is essentially a neutral stance. Each of these groups has their own beliefs and values which will shape your character. Aligning with a faction is important, because you will now gain sorcerer points when defeating an archfiend, which will then be uploaded to the PlayStation Network and contributed to your team. Each week, the global points are tallied, and the winning group will unlock prizes and spells, culminating in an ongoing meta war. Of course, you can change allegiance at any time, so you’re not locked into a specific path.
However, the best new addition is the arrival of mode called Alice’s Eternal Maze. Testing your endurance, this is a never-ending dungeon survival mode, which lets you work through its macabre corridors for lots of loot. This is an absolute blast, and will challenge even the most talented players. There’s also the Bazaar Ledger, which allows you to talk to other spell casters, which will give you information and valuable items when motivated properly. This is where you’ll also gain new raiments, allowing you to customise the look of your sorcerer with much more specificity than ever before.
And finally, there are the expected graphical improvements, which, to be honest, aren’t all that noteworthy, but still come appreciated. It’s the artwork that has always shined brightest in this series, and that remains true throughout each of the haunting new arenas, though the character animations do appear to have been enhanced, too, lending a more natural feel to the entire experience.
Soul Sacrifice Delta deals with many – although not all – of the issues with the vanilla version of Sony’s dark fantasy game, and also elevates its gameplay mechanics and lore to a higher level. If you were a fan of the original, this is definitely worth the double dip, and you’ll have lots to do in addition to the usual monster hunting. As for those that haven’t had a chance to experience this series yet, this makes a great starting point – though the learning curve can be a little steep at first. Repetition still rears its ugly head, but the addition of new monsters tempers this criticism a little. As such, this is one grisly fairy tale that’s more than worth the nightmares.