Platform: PS Vita (PSN, £23.99)
Reviewing Soul Sacrifice Delta is like getting back with an ex. We were so good together during our intense love affair last year, even if things eventually fizzled after a few heady months. For the life of me I can't remember why we split up in the first place.
We've fallen straight back into our old routine: killing monsters in compact arenas with a diverse selection of spells and abilities. Soul Sacrifice condenses the monster hunting gameplay of... well, Monster Hunter... into a more straightforward and muscular format, with pick-up-and-play brawls against hordes of demonic fiends and enormous bosses; each boasting their own unique attacks, themes and tragic backstories. It's a compelling mix of twitchy hack & slash action with a focus on ranged spells and summons, constantly challenging players to make tough choices in the heat of battle as foes press the advantage.
Do you sacrifice an enemy to gain more spell power? Do you sacrifice your own skin for more damage? Will you sacrifice your friends to win a tough engagement? The core remains the same mix of punishment and progression, constantly evolving your playstyle, tweaking builds, crushing through a wealth of content and eventually becoming powerful enough to beat the final adversary, and we get along just as well as when when Brendan reviewed it last May.
Seriously, though, why did we split up? It must have been important. I'm sure it'll come to me as I lie in this filthy maggot-encrusted cage.Click here to read more...
The PlayStation Vita received short shrift last year, especially here in Europe. A tiny handful of big hitters aside, Sony's handheld rarely found its way into our sweaty palms, completely outgunned and outgamed by the 3DS in ascendancy.
But 2014 could well reverse the Vita's fortunes. Over the last few months, Sony and third party partners have been bringing a huge number of fantastic localised titles to British shores, alongside some fantastic indie gems and cross-platform games, culminating in the announcement that three major Japanese releases are also headed West.
More than just a niche proposition, handheld gamers are going to have a lot to love this year - and so many reasons to keep Sony's portable powerhouse to hand.Click here to read more...
Developers: Sony Japan Studio
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Sony Japan Studio are one of those outfits with an almost absurd excess of creativity. The ideas behind their games are frequently weird and wonderful -- just look at the likes of Tokyo Jungle and Gravity Rush -- but it's also true that quite often the execution doesn't quite match up to the inspiration behind it. So it has been that Japan Studio has created a number of games that we really, really want to love, but have perhaps been a little too fundamentally flawed to achieve those ends.
What's great, of course, is that this clearly hasn't dampened the creative spirit or sense of gumption at the studio, because here comes Puppeteer: a 2D platformer seemingly skewed towards children, but with a dark (and occasionally disturbing) story, narrated by English luvvies, and framed by a constantly shifting stage for a playable slice of marionette theatre. There's an Into The Woods joke in here. I'm not sure there's ever been a game before that's managed to slip in a half-minute musical homage to Sondheim before.
If there was ever a game that screamed *RISKY SALES PROPOSITION* at first glance, this is probably it. Thank whatever deity or secular object you pray to that there are still people who value creativity up at the higher levels of this industry.
Puppeteer tells the story of Kutaro, a young lad who has his soul stolen by the evil Moon Bear King, a figure who appears to be a gigantic bear made from the pelts of other bears and who wears a crown and lives on the Moon. Our young protagonist finds himself turned into a marionette and swiftly, sadly decapitated. Pushed onwards by the Moon Witch, Kutaro resolves to steal the Moon Bear King's magical scissors -- named Calibrus -- defeat the Bear's generals and the Bear himself, and restore the Moon to its former glory. It's a darkly, Burton-esque setup, and it sets the stage (quite literally) for an enormously imaginative, rather grim(m) fairytale to follow.Click here to read more...
Rain, the soulful PSN exclusive from Sony Japan Studio, has been officially dated for October 2nd in Europe. A haunting soundtrack will apparently play a key role in fleshing out the emotional tale of a young invisible boy lost in a moody lonely world, and thus the latest developer diary shows off the effort put into the sound design. Don't miss this one, audiophiles.
Carl has just got to grips with Rain at Gamescom, which he describes as "beautiful." For obvious reasons, really.Click here to read more...
Sounds sinister, but this new trailer for PS3 exclusive Puppeteer is a jaunty look at the various powers you'll accrue as you explore the bizarre and colourful stage show. Matt recently got hands-on with Puppeteer, describing it as "absolutely bonkers in pretty much every way."
It's out in September, looking as charming and quirky as you'd expect from Sony Japan Studio.
Developers: SCE Japan Studio
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Puppeteer is absolutely bonkers, in pretty much every way, and it's a marketing rep's nightmare. After all, this is a new IP, with nary a gun in sight, no sexualised characters to slap on the front of the box, it's mechanisms can't really be explained in a snappy tagline, and it's a big-budget 2D platformer not made by Nintendo or Media Molecule.
Of course, Sony's Japan Studio is known for taking risks. Just look at Tokyo Jungle, the quirky Darwinian PSN hit that recently made the jump to mobile platforms. These are the folks who made mind-bending Vita exclusive Gravity Rush, who are forging the PS4's legacy from the beginning with Mark Cerny and Knack, and who are also making the Team ICO-esque Rain. Microsoft and Nintendo might be content for their first-party studios to pump out rehashes and sequels, but Japan Studio doesn't fall into that category at all.
The story is nuts. Puppeteer sees you step into the shoes of Kutaro, a young boy who finds himself transformed into a puppet by the evil Moon Bear King, and quite literally loses his head to the nefarious fiend. The Moon Bear King amuses Himself by stealing the souls of children and then transforming them into His own personal army of bodyguards, so in order to get your head back, you end up having to battle your way through His minions, rescuing your peers, and eventually defeating Him in a quest that ends up seeing the fate of the galaxy come to rest upon your shoulders, much like the head you lost might have done.Click here to read more...
Three new trailers for Puppeteer, the bonkers PS3 exclusive that sees players assume the role of a puppet in a surreal stage show, give us a look at some newly-announced platforming abilities. Donning hero heads allows the diminutive Kutaro to leverage powerful new skills, such as becoming a hook-slinging pirate or burly wrestler.
A bonus DLC pack will also be available for pre-order customers. Footage and details below.Click here to read more...
Sony Japan Studio has released a reveal trailer for a mysterious new project, currently known only as 'Panopticon.' Featuring some futuristic cities, enormous Sci-Fi cyborg beasties, hacking and a cadre of gunslinging protagonists, we could well be on course for a cooperative action-RPG in the vein of Monster Hunter or perhaps a Science Fiction JPRG or shooter setting. We reckon that the art style would be a good fit for Vita, but this is just supposition based on a notably gameplay-free video.
To say that details are "thin on the ground" would be a monstrous understatement, but Sony will apparently make everything clear on May 21st. Perhaps they're attempting to steal some of Microsoft's next-gen thunder? Either way, let us know what you make of the trailer after the break.Click here to read more...
Soul Sacrifice may not be a true system-seller, but as far as handheld games go, Keiji Inafune's deadly monster-hunting title is a deep and involving experience when you take it online. Teaming up to bring enormous bosses to their knees while deciding whether to spare or murder your erstwhile allies at a moment's notice is a uniquely engaging proposition, and one that deserves to attract a hardcore following over the coming months.
However, as Brendan explains in our 7/10 Soul Sacrifice review, it's also rather difficult to get into and requires a huge amount of investment to fully appreciate. To this end, dear Sorceror, I've compiled a list of ten hints, tricks and tactics that will help you survive in this vicious demonic world. If this is child's play to you, be sure to drop in some sage advice in the comments!
Soul Sacrifice offers a truly staggering wealth of attack skills, healing abilities, summons and buffs to equip, and you'll likely discover a fair few powerful spells that can be leant on for ridiculous damage. However, one of the game's unique quirks is that each spell's usage is strictly limited, meaning that it's actually possible to run out of attacks in the longer battles if you don't sacrifice smaller enemies and abuse the rare renewal shrines.Click here to read more...
Format: PS Vita
Developer: SCE Japan Studio
This is our concluding part of our Soul Sacrifice review. If you’d like to catch up on the basic game mechanics and the single player experience, you can read Part 1 here. Ok, up to date? This could go either way right? The remainder of my review is going to focus on the online multiplayer side of the game.
A range of options allows you to set up public or password protected games with invites via the Vita’s messaging system being a simple if slightly clunky affair. You can label your room to give other players an indication of which chapters you’re playing and if you prefer saving or sacrificing bosses. There were a healthy number of players online during the launch weekend, meaning I never had to wait long for players to join. Although it’s often worth waiting until you have a full group of four to take on some of the boss battles.
The lobby screen shows other player’s levels, giving you an indication on how choices may go when saving/sacrificing. Unless you’re hosting you can only see a brief description of the currently selected quest, if you are hosting though you have the advantage of choosing the quest and being able to see what loot is awarded upon completion.Click here to read more...
Format: PS Vita
Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Monster Hunter is a handheld system seller. That’s a fact, particularly in Japan. Yet we’ve only heard the slightest of rumours about the mega-series bringing its giant-chasing exploits to Sony’s underperforming handheld.
We don’t know if it’s a case of Sony not being able to agree a deal with Capcom, but until that champagne spraying day arises, Soul Sacrifice is here to carry the burden and an hefty amount of expectation in the face of the Vita’s barren landscape of recent or future releases.
The story begins with you waking up in an underworld jail with a talking book that insists on reliving the tale of a sorcerer and his road to infamy. You play as a character in the book as you read each chapter. The fleshy tome is essentially a menu system where you select missions or edit your skills and so on. The voice acting from the book and the narrator are coma-inducingly poor and the various stories that are mixed together as you play different mission strands while trying to straddle the difficulty curve are ultimate fantasy fan fiction dross.
The book uses the touchscreen (optional) to flick through pages, but it’s a cumbersome mess requiring too many touches, especially when you want to replay missions to XP grind or look at the mission rewards list to top up on certain items. But what of the missions themselves?Click here to read more...
Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama was pleased as punch to collect the TGS Game Of The Year Award yesterday, and naturally received many messages of congratulations from fans.
“Thank you! I’ll do my best on the sequel,” Toyama tweeted to the well-wishers, followed by "it's a secret" as the responses inevitably started pouring in. Was this a slip of the tongue or a figure of speech?
We rated Gravity Rush as an exciting burst of creativity on the PS Vita platform (check out Matt's 9/10 Gravity Rush review), though personally, I feel that the innovative mechanics deserved a less repetitive gameplay experience overall. Hopefully the sequel will spend less time finding excuses to remove Kat's powers and more time finding exciting and different ways to use them. [via Gematsu]
Sony Japan Studio announced Rain during last night's press conference; a stylish and melencholy tale about an invisible boy lost in a mysterious world. Players will only be able to see their character by the interaction with rainfall, whether it's through his silhouette being picked out by raindrops or footsteps splashing in puddles.
This newly-revealed PS3 exclusive has received its debut trailer, which we've duly embedded after the break. I think you'll agree that it looks rather special indeed.Click here to read more...
The Vita's first killer app, Gravity Rush, is finally hitting European stores today - so here's a gorgeous launch trailer for your eager consumption.
"Gravity Rush joins the select handful of games that will occupy you for hours on the basis of mechanics alone," Matt explains in our 9/10 review. "Toyama's decision to move away from survival horror has resulted in a game of dazzling beauty in both fuction and form. Gravity Rush just became the best reason to buy a Playstation Vita."
With luck, the coming months will herald more innovative and artistically striking games for Sony's handheld, despite their E3 press conference being light on new Vita reveals.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Sony Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
I'm riding around the industrial district of floating city with remarkable verticality, having just plucked three police officers from high urban precipes and rescued them from the machinations of a cackling madman in a pinstriped suit who reminds me an awful lot of Batman's nemesis - the Scarecrow. I've gotten to this point, after 17-odd hours, having leapt from the underside of a bridge and catapulted myself skywards, karate-kicked a bunch of glowing purple enemies out of the clouds, rescued a child by levitating him with powers given to me by a sparkly cat, and won a pavement-surfing race that would make Sonic cry.
Please allow me to introduce you to the first killer app for the Playstation Vita: Welcome to Gravity Rush.
Gravity Rush has a story that sees you step into the shoes of the amnesiac Kat - a blonde-haired, red-eyed, charming protagonist. She wakes up, stumbles around in confused fashion for a little bit, gets imbued with gravitational powers by a cat that then insists upon following her everywhere, and sets up home in the sewers of the strange city in which she finds herself.Click here to read more...