Have you gotten used to this wretched world you've found yourself in yet? Today we'll be going through a little customization, and even a battle! Yes, filled to the brim with beasts of all kinds for you to fight, I'm sure you've all been waiting on pins and needles to learn just how it is you'll be taking the lot of them down. Well, if you and your bandwidth are ready, then I believe it's time to finally...
Oh, I will.
Welcome back to the world of Soul Sacrifice and Soul Sacrifice Delta! In today's exciting installment of this excitingly-boring-multiple-part blog, we'll be briefly covering how gameplay works in these exciting hunting games! And also Zetta's inability to restrain himself, it seems.
As I've already covered the game's premise, story, and so on, forgive me for not doing much of that here. Between this and the first entry, I've decided to turn this series into both an introduction as well as a bit of an instruction manual for newcomers, so I'm going to try to be a little more in depth, whereas I was kind of vague with the story before.
That also means that this is not going to be the last part of this surprise miniseries. I'm aiming for the next one to be the last, but I could see it hitting four depending on if I can't be more concise next time. I'll try!
With that out of the way, let's hit the music and get down to business!
As I explained in the previous blog, players explore the world of the game by exploring the journal itself. When it comes to fighting, they literally relive the events that have been written down in the journal, finding themselves transporting to all sorts of mystical lands, each having its own story to tell. In these lands, they'll fight anything from the terrible Hydra or the ferocious Werewolf, even to enemy sorcerers...
... but before we get too far into that, you have to make your character!
While Soul Sacrifice is no Freedom Wars when it comes to character customization, particularly in the first game, you do have some level of customization to yourself. Let's have a gander at just what we can do in Soul Sacrifice Delta for now, as due to, well... let's call them "technical difficulties," I am unable to show as much from the original game in this area as I'd like. I'll touch on why that is soon, don't worry.
For now, let's start by opening the book up to the table of contents we saw in the first blog entry and hitting on the Portraiture section. For added fun, the game features complete touch screen use during the book sections of the game, so feel free to tap things and even turn pages at your leisure instead of using buttons.
Now let's see what we've got to work with here...
Good god, that's a lot of information to take in all at once! Offerings? Arm? Allies? Faction? Black Rites? Just what the hell have I gotten myself into!?
Okay, let's go through these one at a time, and for this entry, we're just going to look at customization, since for new players, most of this is nonsense in the beginning, so let's just hit on our appearance for now, shall we?
Simple, right? Gender will let you swap between male and female characters, the Head option changes factial features, and Voice will let you choose what kind of grunts you'll hear during the game. As an added bonus, in Soul Sacrifice Delta, you can even unlock the voices of different NPCs to use for your character. You too can grunt like your favorite character!
Since that's all pretty easy to understand, let's just look at what we can do with Raiments. It should be noted that in the original Soul Sacrifice, your options were just to pick a complete Raiment set, its color, and whether or not you wanted to wear the matching hat or hood that went with. Many of these were unlockable as the game went on, at least, but it still only extended that far. As for in Delta...
You'll need to do some unlocking if you want some of the things you're seeing here, but as you can see, the range of customization isn't awful, especially when you start adding in accessories. You kinky types will have plenty to work with. Even better, if you want to change your gender, the game will remember the previous gender's costume settings and vice versa. In other words, waifus galore!
Fabulous! Now that we've gotten ourselves looking pretty, we're going to briefly toss it all away and take a little trip in time to the first Soul Sacrifice game to start looking at some gameplay in action, since explaining the rest of the Portraiture section would be, well, pointless to do if none of it makes sense. Cue the Doctor Who theme!
You probably noticed right away that the table of contents not only looks different in the first game, but there's a section completely missing. If you didn't notice that, well, now you have! I'll explain what's missing in a later entry, but for now, let's check in on what sort of handsome devil we'll be taking into battle and then we'll be on our merry
OH SWEET CHRIST, KILL IT WITH FIRE!
Wait, that's me.
So remember those technical difficulties I mentioned a little while ago? In the first Soul Sacrifice, if you maxed out your level either on the Sacrifice side or Save side, your body would take on a permanent transformation that would only go away if you lowered your level. These transformations are still present in Delta, but you can turn the physical aspect of them on or off at will.
Sadly I'll get more into this system later. I'm mostly explaining now this because my gameplay screenshots are going to look really off if I don't stop to point out why that sexy man in the goggles was replaced by this, er... thing. I'll point out for those of you who are worried that while you may be a naked monstrosity who can no longer wear clothes...
... you can also be a girl monstrosity too! You can kind of see the boob there if you just turn your head and squint and, uh... you know what, forget it.
When players aren't interested in the main story, in the original Soul Sacrifice, they have the option of choosing to go "Inside Avalon," as seen here. From there, you can choose Fellow Sorcerers, where you'll explore more stories, or simply picking Avalon Pacts, where you can fight monsters and tackle other missions in battles unrelated to the story in different chapters based on rising difficulty levels.
In Delta, this is mostly the same, but rather than Inside Avalon, the section has been renamed Sorcerous Deeds, and features story sections for sorcerers for all three factions, while the section for pacts unrelated to the story has been renamed simply to Pacts.
There's also something about an Eternal Maze up there in the corner, but that's probably not important... You know what is important, though? Knowing just what kinds of pacts there are and what we're about to get into! Now, are all pacts the same, you ask? Surely that would get boring! Well... Most of them are of the monster killing variety, yes, though there are a few other types, and the monsters themselves come in a very nice variety anyway.
The main type is a traditional monster slaying quest. These will drop you in an area requesting to kill a monster. Usually, the monster won't have actually "awakened" yet, as is the case in the pact we're about to play now. Instead, it will be a human shaped mass of sludge wandering around, moaning and sounding miserably. Sacrifice or save the human that pops out after you win and the victory is yours.
Sometimes, you may find yourself simply clearing out smaller monsters. In these pacts, it's the same idea as a monster slaying pact, but you'll be running around killing little things rather than a big one. At other times, you might have to fight a pair of monsters at once, and in these situations, the monsters are already transformed and will attack you immediately.
Lastly, there are pacts will you'll need to run around and find hidden items on the ground. These can be either "real" pacts, or they can actually be fragmented memories taking the form of a pact that you need to restore, which will then transform into a new pact you can play.
In Delta, you may also be tasked with specifically saving or sacrificing the human that rises from a fallen monster depending on who makes the request of you, and doing the opposite will still result in a fail even if you down the beast. What's more, in both games, there will be pacts that might time you or limit how many things you can bring with you into battle, increasing the challenge.
By the way, when you're playing online (or with NPCs that have different opinions), beware that even if you choose Sacrifice or Save, if the majority vote is the opposite, that's what will happen. It's a cool feature for the game, I think. Just make sure to be there when this "vote" happens, or you won't get anything.
Now with alllll of that explanation out of the way, let's just jump back to the first game and kill some monsters!
Okay, a pact of the highest difficulty? Should be a cake walk!
Helpful as always, not only does the game show me what I'll be given as a reward if I achieve high marks on the quest, but I'm also given links to the relevant lore of the quest and even given a tab that will take me directly back to the Portraiture section of the book, should I not be properly armed for the upcoming battle.
Having already set myself up for this fight, I'll hit confirm, and confirm again when it asks if I want to use the allies I have selected to tag along, and then we can finally enter our first battle...
I'm going to warn in advance that this next section is going to be lengthy and not so much be involved with what kind of things we can do as a player in terms of fighting, but rather, just how the game actually works. Maybe I'm weird like this, but I just don't think it would be helpful of me to start explaining what weapons do or how the equipment functions without first showing the gameplay itself off so that stuff actually means something.
The game actually does something similar the very moment you open up the book, throwing you right into the action, so hopefully I'm not too off in doing this like this.
In any case, with that lovely, and extremely brief, loading screen out of the way, we're in! Because I was trying to take a shot of Magusar giving one of his little pre-battle intros, I didn't get a good first shot of the area before I got started, so to make a long story short, I'm in an ice or water kind of place and there's water around.
Now that we're really in, the first thing I want to do is hit down on my d-pad and activate what's called the Mind's Eye. If you've played Toukiden, there's something in that game that is similar to this mechanic. What this does is show off hidden things in the area as well as give some indicators as to how your friends and foes are doing in terms of health.
There's not much to see right now, but one thing that sounds out is that glowing blue thing. If you investivate it and turn off your Mind's Eye, you'll see you can hold X to pick it up. Do so and you'll get the "item," which is actually... a shard of someone's soul!?
Well, considering my body is all fucked up right now because of how many souls I've absorbed, that's probably not the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me.
Okay, see how the lower right corner has a big ol' R on it as well as different pictures assigned to some of the buttons on the Vita? If I hit R, I can scroll through two pages of offerings, the things that are used as weapons Soul Sacrifice.
At a glance, bits of bone and tree roots or shards of ice and coal may not seem like much, but in the hands of sorcerers, this is all you need. To start things off, since I'm getting cold, what with my naked self walking around a waterfall, I'm going to use one of my offerings to give myself some armor.
Look at that sexy... plant... thing.
Well, I'm now resistant to Venom, which is one of the five elements in the game (as well as the one belonging to the beast I'm about to tangle with), and my defense has gotten a boost. See the levels in the upper left corner? The blue level is your defense and the red level is your offense, and those go up as you save or sacrifice things.
Now look at what my level is for defense.
Yeah, Imma be needin' this armor. Luckily, the monster still hasn't transformed yet. You can see him there behind me, wandering around, crying in pain and all of that good stuff.
Let's ignore him and keep wandering around the level while I deliver this terrible tutorial! I'm sure my allies will be able to handle this fight fine!
So while the monster started attacking us off screen, using Mind's Eye again, I've discovered a strange circular area. Turning it off and stepping inside, I can see now that this area gives me an offensive boost at the cost of my defense.
This is going well!
Okay Zetta, we can make a comeback from this. It's not like anyone is dying or anything here...
Well this is a crowded screenshot if I ever saw one. I'm standing on top of a labeled corpse debating what to do with it while someone else is bragging about how healthy they are and because I just walked into the circle again, i'm being told what its effects are. Bad timing on my part, but I do assure my readers that it's not as bad as it seems.
Anyway, I'd say my best option here is to sacrifice. Why? Well, this is the guy holding me hostage and all in the real world outside of the journal, and when you sacrifice someone, you unleash a super powerful attack! So long as nothing kills me in the split second between my sacrificing him and Magusar's corpse unleashing hell on the world, everything should be juuust f
Luckily, my other ally is still alive, and I can actually give out commands that, were I online, other players would see (or I can just choose to let my character die) and hopefully listen to.But will my NPC ally survive long enough to save me...!?
You guys have no idea how possible it was for her to just die right there. Luckily, I made a comeback, and after spamming my magic fire arrows, I've put the beast into a status ailment, this one called Infernal Hell. The basic rule of Soul Sacrifice status ailments, despite the five extremely different elements, is this:
You do thing to make it happen.
They stop moving.
You be happy.
From here, you can choose to do one of two things. You can spam attacks on the trapped monster, which usually works, but if you brought something that has an elemental advantage against the element that has an elemental advantage against the monster you're fighting, then...
This picture is out of order. Sorry!
You'll perform what is called a Skillful Attack, creating a blinding explosion of incredible damage, as seen above, and briefly knocking the monster down.
If this still doesn't make sense, I've come up with an easy to understand diagram to explain it!
Just replace the cute things with horrible things and it works perfectly.
We should probably get back to the fight now, though, shouldn't we? And... oh dear. Amidst all my explaining, I seem to have destroyed one of my offerings!
Though I've got a bunch of the same one right now, something that isn't actually possible in Delta without certain things equipped, you can see which one has been lost pretty clearly. It's been grayed out, and when I hit the button assigned to it, nothing happens. This is a core part of Soul Sacrifice's battle system, which I think I've done a pretty miserable job of explaining so far, if I do say so myself.
You see, offerings can only be used a certain amount of times. Once they're gone, they're gone forever. The world of Soul Sacrifice is such that there is a sort of permanence to all of someone's actions. In this case, I have now lost this weapon forever because I wasn't taking care of it.
In other words? Ladies and gentlemen, always remember to polish your lover's sword before they head out into battle! They might not come back with it still working if you're not careful!
In Soul Sacrifice, when the game warns (or whenever you want), I can restore weapons that are running low by sacrificing a weaker monster (or an ally!) to restore the power of my offerings, or by using Mind's Eye to locate somewhere that has a bit of magical energy in it where I can give myself a similar effect. You can also use Mind's Eye to see if any weak monsters have been killed that you might not notice without having to run around, which is pretty handy.
Buuut, doing any of that now isn't going to do me any good, unfortunately. The thing's just plain busted. And to make matters worse, while I was putzing around taking screenshots, poor, poor Sympatha died...
Let's kill her!
In Soul Sacrifice, sacrificing an ally gives you the same kind of attack every time, but in Soul Sacrifice Delta, the character's allegiance, their faction in other words, will determine just what happens when you sacrifice them. It's a small touch, but it's a nice one all the same.
Let's see how ugly over there is doing.
Low on health according to Mind's Eye, and even without it, he's stumbling around and in general looking like he's about to die. You might have also noticed the random text on the screen. As you fight the big monsters, they'll scream and yell in a not-quite-a-language, with their feelings appearing on screen briefly as well.
It's a nice touch, and it shows just how hard the developers at Comcept and Sony's Japan Studio worked on incorporating the lore into the gameplay. They worked hard on creating this world, and by George, you're going to see it.
You may have noticed that ugly little stamp looking thing on the screen that keeps telling me to touch it. It's been there for a while now. Well, since the fight's almost over, if it's just as well, I think I'm going to give it a little rub.
So that little stamp was actually my Black Rite. Once you take a certain amount of damage, the game will prompt you and give you the option to use this, at which point you can unleash a horrible attack at the cost of parts of your body. Some Black Rites cost organs, but luckily, I just needed to give up my skin for this one, which halves my defense.
This is an incredibly risky move, especially on a high ranked pact like this one, but if I timed this right...
... that will happen right after I do it.
Now we're left with a man begging for his life and a decision.
You might notice the souls of my fallen allies floating in the background there. While NPC characters don't move around after death, when you play online, or if you have NPC allies remaining after you die, players can run around after they die and influence the game, meaning the game is never over.
You can grab onto things from your surroundings, and use the touch screen to assist your allies and weaken your foes. In Delta, this mechanic is expanded on, allowing you to possess your allies, use things in the area to create phantasmal weapons, and even heal your friends from beyond the grave!
And as awesome as that is, for now, we have a choice to make. Seeing as I've given up my skin, one of my weapons, and two of my weapons for this... All things considered, I'd say that's enough bloodshed for this afternoon.
Luckily, while it may have been when I started writing this, it is no longer the afternoon anymore, so I am free to take that handsome devil's soul into my arm! He can join in on the orgy with the rest of them.
And that's a wrap! From here, we'll be taken to the rewards screen, which differs slightly from its counterpart found in Soul Sacrifice Delta, and evaluated based on our actions during the pact. We'll be judged from how quickly we were even to how much we countered enemies, which is a thing you can do if you've got good timing.
After this screen, we're shown some of the things we picked up on the pact, but perhaps more importantly, we're told that the journal has been rewritten as a result of our actions. This is because according to the journal as I previously had it, the person I just sacrificed was actually someone I saved... but because I sacrificed them, the events following that moment, and the fact that he had been saved and turned into a recruitable NPC, were all erased.
Or that would all be true if I hit Yes here, anyway.
Which I won't do!
So all's well that ends well, right?
Magusar and Sympatha are still dead, I'm still burned, and one of my weapons is still useless.
Luckily, using the in-game "currency" of Lacrima, you can undo these costs. Magusar and Sympatha revived, my skin restored, and my offering renewed.
Back to my hideous self again. Yay.
But how is this possible? I killed them, after all!
Well, that's the thing. These are all just pages in a journal. Everything that's happening, everything that we experience in the game, it's all in the past. None of it is real.
We can smudge things in the journal out and live out the effects of those things as though they actually happened, like burning off our skin or sacrificing someone that isn't dead later in the journal, but none of that happened.
In terms of gameplay, though, this is a great thing. It's here where what I was emphasizing before returns: This is a book. You can't change huge things, but it gives you a fair amount of freedom in not only how you play the game, but how you see the story, where the things you can just undo with the touch of a button can cost someone their lives.
It can cost you if you're not careful.
For beginning players, this gameplay mechanic can still be just as brutal as if it were permanent. When you're only earning Lacrima in increments of 5 and 10 early on and you need the stuff in the hundreds to restore your skin or your eyesight, with matching costs to gameplay, after using a Black Rite once? That's tough.
That's also, sadly, where this entry of this sorcerer's blog must come to a close, since this one really dragged on despite how little it explained. I'll try to make the next one better. Or, if the people demand it, not do another at all!
As things stand now, however, this is the plan:
Next time, now that you lot have a vague, poorly explained idea of what you're getting into, we'll talk about how you can actually prepare yourself for battle using the different offerings the game gives you, as well as how the game's unique equipment system functions! If you're good, we might even take a trip to Delta's bazaar...
See you then!