Soul Sacrifice wants to think - and wants you to think - that it's this:
And it is. It's dark and demented and thoroughly depressing, with some occasionally gross and spectacular, weird stuff. But it's also this:
Which doesn't impress anyone. It's also a heck of a lot of this:
There's something pleasing about it. It's a very portable experience, a'la Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, where more than half of one's time was spent navigating menus and making tough choices - in this case destroying one of only two sweet ice sacrifices in order to make another, potentially more useful weapon - and then taking those tough choices into the next little fight.
Aside from bosses - lengthy, intense, frustrating, harrowing encounters that don't offer anything in the way of feedback (not even a life bar) - the fights do feel small and repetitious, but are also regularly accompanied by a satisfying sense of power and urgency.
A few little weird, alien arenas and some creepy monsters to fight - two-and-a-half star difficulty, says the menu. You pop in, swat around some baddies and pop out, slightly stronger for your troubles, with a few new sacrifices to equip to your six slots.
And you flip through some menus, you combine some items, and you hop back in to another fight suspiciously like the last nine, coming back out just a little bit stronger.
There's something deeply addictive about that, despite the omnipresent, gloomy taste of doom and severely disconnected environments.
Soul Sacrifice, oddly enough, seems to be a game that's easier to enjoy than it is to appreciate. I don't think much of its graphics, having seen what I have on the Vita. I dislike its reliance on menus, its vapid environments that don't appear to be congealing into anything approaching a cohesive universe, and - when it's not working for me - its oddly-paced combat.
But I got my character to level twenty (the demo's level cap) and I'm looking forward to Soul Sacrifice's release, to continue on with my little ice monster. There's a part of me that wants to re-roll and lean heavily towards light magic, but I think I'm probably just going to grind some story chapters and put together some three-star sacrifices.
Ah, who am I kiddin'? I'm gonna' go play The Knife of Dunwall. G'night everybody!