The world as you know it, an already mad and terrifying place as it was, is in ruin. The end of all is at hand, and you, my friend, have been captured by what seems to be the cause. All you can do now is watch from within the horrible, misshapen bars that keep you from a final, fruitless attempt to flee... and wait.
You've read the books that litter your cage from front to back, but it has done little to help to ease your anxiety, your despair. You know that your final moments could come at any time. So you sit in your cage... Weak, helpless, and alone, all you can do is await your demise in silence.
There is no hope. There is no salvation. You even witness a rebellious prisoner foolishly attempt to escape, only to fall before your very eyes to the cruel sorcerer that is holding the world within his hands. If you had any thoughts of trying to escape yourself, they've surely been quashed now.
And when all seems lost, just as you are ready to give up-- It is in that moment when you find yourself blessed with a chance.
An enchanted book, passed from prisoner to prisoner, has now found its way into your cage. But this isn't just any enchanted book, oh no. This book is... special.
This book is also the only chance you have.
Welcome to the world of Soul Sacrifice, or as it's hopefully better now know, the world of its expansion, Soul Sacrifice Delta. Perhaps even more known to some simply as the first game major hunting game to be released on the Playstation Vita, Soul Sacrifice offers players a different take on the genre, featuring not only a rather unique take on the type of gameplay that these games tend to offer, but a fascinating setting and a story that is well worth the price of admission alone.
Before continuing further, if you could click this link, that would be lovely, though this one is fine too if you want more variety while you read. Also, while it's probably too late for this warning, I should mention that this is going to be an entry that is heavy on the images.
Now, perhaps the first thing one can take from Soul Sacrifice, even before getting to the gameplay, is simply its presentation. While other hunting games feature hub worlds of some kind for you to wander around in, Soul Sacrifice does not. Even the claustrophobic Freedom Wars eventually gave you the opportunity to leave your cell.
In Soul Sacrifice, you do not have such luxury. You can either wander in your cell, crawling around on your hands and knees, and squash the bugs feasting on what you hope are not the bodies of your predecessors... or you can take a peek inside your magical new friend.
You see, this is no ordinary magic book. This book is a journal, and it's not just any journal at that! It is a journal that was kept by someone who knew the very monster that is keeping you hostage. In itself, that doesn't seem like much, but remember, this is a magical journal.
While players of Soul Sacrifice can't leave their cages, they also don't need to. Opening up this snarky book will let them relive the memories of its author, allowing them to learn about how things became the way they are now and, if they're lucky, perhaps how to defeat the terrible sorcerer holding them captive.
I'm sure at this point, you're wagging your finger at me. "Oh, I see now! Once I open up the book, I must be transported to the game's hub world! There, I can magically talk to people who knew the owner of the book, just like I would if I was traveling through time, and..."
No, you can't do any of that, because it's a book! Haven't you been paying attention? What else would be there when you open a book but the table of contents?
Soul Sacrifice never strays far from this concept of "you are reading a book." With the exception of an opening cinematic here and cutscenes enough that I only need one hand to count them there, outside of combat, this game is you in a cell looking at a book. It is a book that you can alter and it is a book that you have all sorts of control over, as I'll get into later, but it is a book through and through. There are some who may spend more time with a book through this game than in real life, depending, which is kind of sad, but a topic for another day.
Because I don't want to spoil too much of the actual story, which I have to say again really is fantastic, I'll offer a summary more of the world rather than the actual events you witness within it, and then follow it up some screenshots out of context. That sound good? Good!
In Soul Sacrifice, sorcerers are people who use their magical abilities, typically on orders from the faction of sorcerers known as Avalon, to fight the monsters that terrorize the world, as characters in hunting games tend to do. These monsters can range in size from beasts the as small as a child to truly terrifying monstrosities the size of a small castle. These monsters are typically slain by sacrificing them, hence the game's title, but in Soul Sacrifice Delta, we find factions who are highly opposed to the nature of sacrifice that Avalon so strictly enforces.
But where did these monsters come from? Are they a natural part of this world? Or is there something else at work...? I wonder...
The world of Soul Sacrifice is very heavily based on a lot of things that you and I are very familiar with. The monsters these sorcerers fight aren't mighty dragons or mechanical tools of destruction, but terrifying monsters directly inspired by myth and fairy tale alike, from the likes of Jack Frost or Cerberus to even Red Riding Hood and Hansel & Gretel. Monsters, factions, and characters are all based on things that you might not at all expect them to be, but for those that no longer bear their "true" name, once you get to thinking about it, they didn't even hide a lot of it. While the first game largely draws inspiration from the stories of King Arthur, the second takes more from Grimm's Fairy Tales for its additions.
But even before getting to the obvious enemies like Red Riding Hood or Centaur, perhaps the most obvious source of inspirations were right in front of you all along... and perhaps they were the ones taken out in the localization process. But among the things removed, the sorcerer keeping the player captive, known as "Magusar" to Western audiences, is known as Merlin in Japan — and alongside the author of the journal, Magusar is a key part of the story told to readers as they relive the tales kept within the journal.
And just what will you find in that journal? Well, I took longer with that buildup than I probably should have, so for now, instead I'll let the out of context journal segments, taken from the main storyline as well as shorter chapters devoted to specific parts of the author's life, speak for themselves:
One thing that adds exponentially to the experience of Soul Sacrifice is that the story of the journal is completely voiced. Players not only get to listen to the story told to them as the words appear on screen, but can watch animations, illustrations, and even stains flood the pages as they read on, with characters all speaking for themselves when it's time for them to speak.
The game's story, despite being contained to just a book in a video game, is rich and fleshed out like few modern games are, even though it is almost exclusively told through narrated first person journal entries, with exceptions only being found in a few sections in the journal, like the section dedicated to the world's lore. You will feel things, you will enjoy things, and you will want more.
And if you want more, as I mentioned just a moment ago, there is a section for it, which will be the last thing I touch upon in this section of this long, harrowing blog entry. The world of Soul Sacrifice is rich, but a journal can only show us so much. For those seeking more... Why, you need only flip through to this part of your textbook.
This section of the book will offer more than you ever possibly could have wanted to know about the world of Soul Sacrifice, as lore sections in games often do. While many such sections in games often go ignored or forgotten, what makes this section a particular fan favorite is that this section is much more than simply a mere infodump on the monsters and enemies you face within the game or a history lesson about a fictional world. Every monster, even every area, has a story to tell.
In the spirit of SeymourDuncan17's Persona 4 appreciation month, I picked one in particular out to share with you lovely people that feels all the more fitting for the season, so to speak.
That, ladies and gentleman, is based off of the same story that gave us a beloved Disney film about a young emperor getting turned into a llama, in case you didn't catch it. If you're interested in further reading, while I won't clog up any more space than I already have, I did put together three more images of two more monsters and one area compiling their respective chapters in the lore section into single images for any curious readers:
One last thing before I finally wrap this portion of the blog up: I want to add that the game's dub is fantastic, and while normally I would say to just go with your preference, as the original Japanese voices are indeed available and are quite fine in their own right, unless English isn't your first language, I can't stress enough how good a job Sony did on this game's voicework and bringing this game to life.
And now... Actually, you know what? I think I'm going to actually save the rest of this for another blog entry! This wasn't as long thanks to my words, but I think it might be for the best to save gameplay and other items for its own blog entry even so.
So now that we've gotten most of the story stuff out of the way, or at least most of the story stuff that I'm willing to cover anyway, I'll return with the rest of Zetta Does Soul Sacrifice in its own blog later this month, so keep your eyes out for it! Ironically, despite less words from me in this portion, this actually took a bit more work than the usual Google searching for funny things to slap on and/or minor editing for the pictures besides the writing, and since I'm already pushing it back now, I think I'll get some better screencaps for the gameplay section. So depending on how things play out, a different blog that doesn't involve all that may actually end up being posted first...?! We will see!
In the meantime, if you own a Vita or a device that can play Vita games but don't already have Soul Sacrifice Delta, if it isn't already clear, I highly reccomend it! If this has at all interested you, then by all means, don't wait for my next blog, go on ahead and try it out for yourself!
Who knows what kind of story awaits you within...?