TGS 2012: Megaman's Inafune-san's Soul Sacrifice

For me, possibly the greatest controversy about the gory third-person action PS Vita game Soul Sacrifice is that its producer Keiji Inafune was also responsible for creating one of the best-loved and most family-friendly game series in the history of videogames.So it blew my mind that the co-creator of Megaman could come up with a game so twisted after years of clean, Megaman fun.

Soul Sacrifice for the Vita is aptly named as it has you choosing to ‘Sacrifice’ or ‘Salvage’ enemies’ body parts, items, or even fellow players in order to progress with the game. At the press presentation at the Tokyo Game Show, single player content was predictably withheld; there was instead a demo of the game’s multiplayer.

At first glance, Soul Sacrifice is an action game not dissimilar to your Monster Hunter and Dragon’s Dogma games. But it quickly turned M-18 during the demo when a player character fell in combat. This player was sacrificed by other surviving players to cause more damage to the boss. And the player doing the sacrificing had left and right ‘hands’ appear on his Vita’s screen.

Was this meant to make the player more emotionally involved with his decisions? Inafune answered yes, “it’s meant to create that emotional feeling where you have to make that choice yourself.”

So beyond its gory, dark, and bloody exterior strangely reminiscent of Gravity’s MMORPG Requiem: Memento Mori, Soul Sacrifice is really about the moral choices our protagonist, who is by story enslaved by a cruel sorceror, has to make in the book (that’s really a demon) he peruses just hours before his death. Each chapter in the book that he reads doesn’t just level him up in preparation for (what we presume might be) the fight for his life against his sorcerous master; it also sheds insight on the various bosses he encounters in the game.

Each Sacrifice or Salvage made in Soul Sacrifice scars your character permanently. Sticking fully to one side of the fence will do you no favours with either. Unlike games such as Knights of the Old Republic or Fable, one cannot advance easily in Soul Sacrifice simply by keeping to either ‘sacrificing’ or ‘salvaging’ only. Inafune pointed out that the game will eventually come to a point where sticking to only one moral choice through out will make it too difficult to play.

Soul Sacrifice is no Megaman nor Dead Rising, and is undoubtedly one of the more daring moves of Inafune’s glittering career in videogames. We’ll find out whether its quirky combination of heartfelt plot and Vita-enhanced action gameplay will work its magic on the masses the way Megaman did when the game launches in Japan next spring.