Despite how many games have come to the Vita since it released, Soul Sacrifice Delta still remains one of my favorites on the system. Thanks to Sony essentially sweeping the title under the rug, however, many people just... haven't played it. When it launched, for months, I kept hearing how people hadn't even realized it was being localized, let alone that it had already been released. It being digital only was probably a factor, but certainly not the only one.
On the bright side, at least they missed that week where Sony had the game sitting on the PlayStation store without the online pass included or even on the store to be downloadable, rendering the entire co-op portion of the game, online rankings, and so on completely inaccessible for those who bought it during that period. I guess there's always a silver lining, huh?
It's not like the original Soul Sacrifice was a bad game or anything. Certainly not perfect, but, especially when it came out, it was the first hunting game on Vita, one of the biggest original first party titles, and pretty well liked. Jim Sterling gave the original game an 8, for what it's worth, and if you ask me, Delta makes it look broken and unplayable when the two are put side by side.
It certainly wasn't a bad game on its own, no, but the original game doesn't exist in a vacuum. Delta exists and improves on so, so much., and I feel like it's just a shame so many people have missed out on it.
So, right here and right now, while the game is on sale for a measly $8, I'm going to try to express why I think any and every Vita owner should consider it. And I'll be quick about it! ... Outside of this intro, that is.
REASON NUMBER ONE: THE STORY!
The story of Soul Sacrifice is set in a macabre world based on Western stories and fairy tales and such. Your main character is a prisoner being held captive by a terrible monster of a man, and you are tasked with reading a living book to learn your captor's secrets. By reading the journal, you can live the memories of the journal's author, who was a sorcerer themselves, and experience the world of Soul Sacrifice before it became the way it is as you're experiencing it in the present.
The way this story is told is one of the coolest things about it. Rather than cutscenes or even your old school RPG dialogue, you get first person journal entries written out and illustrated that narrate the story for you, complete with fantastic voice acting. I am very fond of this game's dub, but if you want, there's Japanese voices available too.
What some may feel is simply an edgy story in an edgy world being darker and edgier simply for dark and edginess' sake is actually a lot more than that, I feel. It's a gripping tale of, of all things... companionship at its core. It's something you see and can really feel as you read the stories of the journal's author and his companions - the strongest and most important of which being the very being holding you captive in the present.
REASON NUMBER TWO: THE GAMEPLAY!
While typical hunting games will strap you with some weapons or weapons and items, Soul Sacrifice lets you have up to six "offerings," which you can use up to a certain amount of times during a battle to activate their effects. Some will give you a weapon for a limited time, some will launch a projectile, some will alter the landscape and terrain, some will give you a buff or let you burrow underground for a limited time, and so on.
In the original Soul Sacrifice, you had to "sacrifice" to recharge these offerings so you could keep using them. Throughout missions, you could find weaker enemies to kill as well as spots you could use to recharge your stuff with. In Delta, depending on what faction you've chosen (there are three, which largely only matter for gameplay purposes like this), once you kill a grunt enemy, you can choose to sacrifice it, save it, or leave it up to chance what you'll do, and based on your faction, the effects will be different.
Rather than dumping you in segmented areas or a big area to run around in, Soul Sacrifice lets you get at the monsters fairly quickly most of the time. While most areas aren't huge, Delta does offer a nice variety of spaces to run around in, and all are based off of the same kind of lore that the monsters themselves are. Whether you're running around inside a giant, fighting Hansel and Gretel while surrounded by sloppy white goo, or on an island fighting the Leviathan, there's quite a bit to keep you entertained!
While the original Soul Sacrifice had atrocious artificial intelligence, Delta's AI companions are some of the most functional I've had the pleasure of playing with in a video game. There are still the occasional hiccups, usually stemming from when you're allied with sorcerers who use spells that can knock you over, but when you're allied with sorcerers with shields and healing spells, they're invaluable.
Sometimes even more so than actual, living players, since I believe NPCs have infinite uses of their spells, unlike players...
Lastly, with how the equipment system works (known as "Sigils"), many players will, naturally, just choose to min-max their characters, but the thing I love about Soul Sacrifice is that this system gives players an incredible amount of freedom with how they customize their character.
Sure, you could go all in with boosts to your melee attacks and offerings to support that, but you could also make a character that can be flexible; one that can rely on more powerful armor spells while also giving their offense some boosts. I can go into greater detail about what I'm talking about here in the comments if anyone's curious!
REASON THREE: THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO!
There is a lot to do in Soul Sacrifice Delta. With the plethora of different monster types, ways you can fight these monsters, things to collect, offerings to learn, and story modes, you'll be busy. Even just going through the different story modes should keep you pretty occupied.
Let's break it down: There's the main story mode, some separate story modes for each faction, a "side" story mode you can experience at the Bazaar, as well as dozens upon dozens of missions outside of the story you can play however you like, including ones with special restrictions to up the challenge. Some of these special missions also include missions that will pit you against monsters from Freedom Wars, Toukiden, and God Eater once you update your game.
You can tackle some special randomized missions for rare rewards if you'd like, or choose to go into Alice's Maze, a boss rush of sorts that can go on for eternity, with great rewards so long as you leave alive. It's all up to you. Save for the story mode, you can pretty much do everything online as well, so if you want to get the game with some friends, it would work out pretty well.
REASON FOUR: THE LORE AND THE WORLD
Honestly, though some may not care for this sort of thing, there is a lot of world building at work here, and speaking personally, I... thoroughly enjoyed exploring it all. A ton of work and thought clearly went into this game's universe, and a lot of the takes of some of these fairy tales are really cool to read. Even just seeing the world through the game's story and art is pretty great. There aren't a ton of games like this, at least that I've played. I've heard it likened to the Souls series and Bloodborne, though having only played the first one of those a bit, I can't really say for myself.
Really, though, just reading about some of these aspects of the game, then exploring them through the missions makes you appreciate them all the more. I did, anyway.
Even better, you can even unlock some of the characters you read about in the stories, which is a pretty neat touch. It doesn't really "mean" anything in most cases, but to "have" them available as allies, should you choose to save them rather than sacrifice them, is pretty rad.
REASON FIVE: THE DECENT CUSTOMIZATION
I'll say straight up - Soul Sacrifice Delta is no Freedom Wars in the customization department. It does, atl east, have a fairly nice variety of costumes, which all (save a select few) come in eleven colors, can be mixed and matched at your leisure, alongside some accessories. It's, if nothing else, much better than it was in the first game, and not tied to your equipment like in other hunting games, which is a plus.
There are also costumes from Freedom Wars, Toukiden, Wild Arms, Gravity Rush, God Eater, and more in there you can get.
You can also unlock the voices of characters from the game to use as your character's voice, which adds another nice touch if you want to have your grunts be the grunts of someone in particular.
For a handheld game, especially considering when Delta game out, I'd say it's not too bad. Prior to Freedom Wars, it was certainly better than most of what I'd experienced on a handheld beforehand... but, again, it's no Freedom Wars in this department.
REASON SIX: IT'S A VITA (AND PS TV) EXCLUSIVE
Does this count? I don't know.
Soul Sacrifice Delta is, to this day, an exclusive first party Vita title. Of fairly high quality at that. This game, if nothing else, is proof that there was someone out there that gave a damn about this console and thought it was worth a really good game. Two, technically, though this one does basically invalidate the other one's existence for the most part.
It wasn't marketed well (almost at all, arguably), it was quickly overshadowed by Freedom Wars and then Oreshika here in the states as far as first party Vita games were concerned (and Toukiden and Monster Hunter as far as hunting games are concerned), and as I said earlier, most just plain don't know about it.
But it's here, and at a time when I hear more and more Vita users complaining about a lack of games, it's only eight dollars. Even as a digital only release, I implore you guys to check this hidden gem out.
It doesn't have a lot of gimmicks like Gravity Rush or Tearaway that "make full use" of the console, but it is made for a high quality handheld like the Vita - and the whole book presentation and everything else works wonders with the touch screen, if you ask me.
If you own a Vita and want something to do with it, I implore you to give this game a go.
Eight bucks, guys! I got a couple hundred hours out of this baby for five times that and I regret nothing!
If you're not convinced, but are still considering the game, once upon a time (before I got hit by technical difficulties, among other things), I wrote at length about the game in what was to be a decently sized series. You can read the first part here and go on to read the second part here.
If that don't do it, hey, Jim liked the first one, and YouTube is always an option. If not, and $8 is still too steep a price, then maybe Soul Sacrifice Delta just isn't the game for you. It happens!
Either way, thanks for giving this a read and at least considering it. For anyone who found this (admittedly rushed) bit lacking on the details, or not helpful for someone wanting to upgrade but wanting to know how things changed from one version of the game to the next, I would be happy to answer any questions about the game anyone may have!