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!
10: Pack A Balanced Arsenal
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.
You'll therefore want to make sure that your offerings contain a neat mix of abilities that'll keep you in the fight for some time. As a general rule, you'll probably look to pack a multi-use melee skill to clean up fodder with (Battle Axe Edge M or an elemental arm is a good bet here), alongside some multi-use homing ranged skills such as Ice Rose or Archer's Arrowhead. These versatile skills can be relied on several times before you have to seek out renewal shrines or sacrifices, while giving you a choice of engagement ranges to compliment your one-shot wonders.
Oh, and always pack a healing skill. This should go without saying, but life is effectively the game's currency and you'll want a way to keep the coffers full.
9: Exploit Elemental Weaknesses
Any RPG fan knows that some enemies are weak to elemental damage. Jack o' Lanterns hate ice. Harpies crisp up nicely. Krakens can't handle the shock of the lightning. I'm not going to list them all here since there already some handy guides online (I'd personally recommend browsing Nepherael's GameFAQs guide), but before each battle, be sure to spec appropriately and then spam numerous elemental skills to create enormously damaging persistent effects (like 'Infernal Hell' when enough fire damage is dished out to wreathe a vulnerable boss in flame).
When fighting a Cerberus, for example, it's worth falling back on a set of ranged Stone-element offerings to bring the pain as quickly as possible. Which brings us nicely onto...
8: Make Life Easier With Item Sets & Search Filters
Soul Sacrifice's interface is a complete and total mess, at least when you first get involved. The slew of offerings can quickly become too large to manage effectively, even if you diligently combine them to form more powerful versions, potentially leading to enormous periods of downtime between each match. Thankfully, however, there are a few ways of cutting out some of the busywork.
When browsing the offerings menu, remember that you can flick the right stick to browse specific spell types such as 'throw' or 'arm' abilities, or search by elemental type. If you know what you want, you can go straight to it rather than scrolling through your ever-increasing library. Better yet, when you've found a set of offerings that you frequently use or are effective against a particular boss, hit the right trigger and bind them to an inventory set, allowing you to equip them all instantly down the line. This may be a simple point, but it will cumulatively save you several hours that could be better used bringing Elven Queens to heel.
7: Suss Out The Arena (& Archfiends) With Mind's Eye
Pressing down on the D-Pad activates Mind's Eye, a vision mode that makes the invisible visible. Each boss has a selection of weak points that can be identified in this mode, which can inflict extra damage when targeted and rob the boss of specific attacks when destroyed, so ensure that you know where they are before firing up a homing skill. On a basic level, you can also see roughly how much health enemies have left, which is absolutely paramount when considering whether to save or sacrifice your allies (more on this later). Use Mind's Eye every time you have a spare moment to make sure that you're absolutely on top of the situation.
However, it's always worth using Mind's Eye as soon as you enter an arena to acquaint yourself with the location of renewal shrines, bonus weapon/armour spawns and other tactical opportunities. Knowing where these are ahead of time can make the difference between success and certain death, and on a more selfish note, can allow you to beat your team-mates to the punch. Since renewal shrines take between 3-5 minutes to recharge, getting to one first is absolutely paramount.
6: Talk, Dammit!
Soul Sacrifice allows players to start chatting in the pre-game lobby before each match using preset expressions or free typing. So... do it. If you want to be sacrificed or need a particular reward, tell your team. If you've got an AoE healing ability, tell them to stay close, or let them know that you're specced for support and need to be covered from opposing enemies. Naturally, if you know of any elemental type advantages ahead of time, remind your posse so they can equip appropriately. In-game, you can access a chat menu with a quick touch of the on-screen icon (on the right hand side), which provides some useful callouts.
Offline, remember that you can summon AI allies to your position by pressing the X button. Do this any time a rival sorceror summons a golem, for example.
5: Bring The Right Allies For The Job
Unless you're a particularly bloodthirsty player, chances are that you'll quickly amass a small army of helpful AI compatriots to accompany you into battle. Having someone else to aggro bosses is always useful, but when you take a look at their stats, you'll realise that they boast unique and situational skillsets. On a basic level, you'll probably want at least one ally with an AoE heaing spell (Radux is particularly useful for this), while taking on elemental specialists like the ice-abusing Ultheena can make short work of vulnerable archfiends. Remember that allies grow in power the more often you use them, so be sure to keep chiselling away at a small group of faithful friends once you've picked some favourites.
Also, bear in mind that good and evil allies will permanently leave your team if you save or sacrifice Archfiends. 'Dark' allies take a dim view of you leaving survivors, while their divine counterparts will depart if you're too bloodthirsty for their tastes. Though you'll probably have bucketloads of Lacrima to spare, it's worth saving yourself the hassle by bringing along team mates who won't flake out once the deed is done.
4: Rock The Roll
This is going to sound incredibly patronising to many hack & slash veterans: but it needs to be said. Practice. The. Evade. Roll. Like many classic brawlers, Soul Sacrifice allows you to leap out of the way with a single tap of the X button, which grants you the all-important MOI (Moment Of Invulnerability) at the apex of your roll where all damage is completely mitigated. As such, it's by far the most important ability in your entire roster, as it allows you to avoid charge attacks and elemental blasts if triggered at the right time. Keep your camera trained on bosses and dodge at the last second, while rival Sorcerors often telegraph their most powerful spells with a telltale glint of light (at which point, dodge like freaking crazy). Sadly, there's nothing I can say here that's a substitute for good old fashioned practice, trial and error.
Rolling can also be used to position yourself behind enemies for a follow-up strike, or behind scenery to stop you getting sucked in by a Harpy's gluttonous vacuum or gravity-altering spell. Use it. All the time.
3: Use Golems & Morph Balls Sparingly Online
When playing solo, summoning inchoate golems and spamming morph attacks can be a key way of evening the odds. Whether you're dishing out ruinous damage as a sphere of magma or using a massive statue to block a boss while running away, it's difficult to argue with their effectiveness in the heat of battle.
Online, however, they can be a massive ballache for absolutely everyone. There's no friendly fire per se, but allies are affected by your knockdown attacks. Since both golems and morph balls pack enormous knockback, you can unfoot your entire team in a split second, perhaps ruining a spell they're summoning or leaving them open to a devastating counter-attack. Don't be surprised if they opt to sacrifice you as soon as possible if you end up spamming these abilities, and effectively making entire areas of ground unusable for several seconds.
Also, NEVER USE A MORPH BALL ATTACK ON A STUNNED BOSS. Doing so instantly brings them out of their stunned state, robbing your team of an opportunity to deal out some insane damage.
2: When In Doubt, Save Don't Sacrifice...
Once you've gotten over the compulsive urge to sacrifice everything and everyone in sight, you'll begin to realise that sacrificing team members too early in a battle can spell certain disaster for your entire team. If the sacrifice spell doesn't kill the boss outright, you'll have just removed a quarter of your team's damage output, and set yourself up for a spectacular loss.
To this end, if one of your team bites the dust you're probably better off saving their lives. Not only will you get a handy soul (useful for sigil creation) and a one-off health boost the first time you revive them (mitigating your initial HP loss), but they'll also be more inclined to pay it forward later in the match when you find yourself gasping on the floor. Four heads are better than three for the most part unless we're talking about Cerberuses.
That said, if someone is getting on your nerves, it's sometimes worth sacrificing them just to make a point. Be sure to laugh maniacally while doing so. And then, dear reader, ignore everything I just said...
1: ...Unless It's Going To Win The Battle
Saving is all well and good in the main, but the raw damage output (and subsequent ghostly buffing) of sacrificing can tip the tide at the last stages of a battle. As previously discussed, you should be dipping into Mind's Eye at regular intervals, and once an Archfiend enters the red zone it's officially killing time. All bets and loyalties are off, since triggering a sacrifice skill at this stage also serves to stun-lock the boss for several seconds, allowing the rest of your team to take deadly advantage. If your team-mate is lying on the floor, begging for their life, it's sometimes going to be more worthwhile twisting the knife. And all the more satisfying.
It's also sometimes worth setting yourself up as a sacrificial lamb by equipping life-draining skills such as the sanguine cannon. When a boss enters the Red and starts circling the drain, consider taking a dive and ordering your team-mates to sacrifice you. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you'll glean powerful unique Martyr Rewards for doing so (often more worthwhile than being alive for the post-match feeding frenzy) and Godstomp the boss when they're at their most dangerous. I'd urge you to consider this course of action from time to time, since it will benefit everyone at the most pivotal moment of the match.
That's your lot, friends, but I've barely scratched the surface of this intricate and deceptively deep title. Have a strategy to share? A build to rule them all? Have your say in the comments!