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Soul Sacrifice demo is the worst demo I've played in years

I'm a big fan of the Vita. I have Soul Sacrifice fully-paid on pre-order. I was so excited to play the game, I even converted a spare memory card into one that could be used to download the demo from the Japanese PSN store. I played the first three levels of that demo, loved it, and like many of you I was eager to download the English demo when it came out on the PSN store.

And it's a really terrible demo.

Why? The demo is not really a demo. Rather, it is the first chapter of the game. You wouldn't know that by looking at the demo's icon, since it says "Demo". The PSN store listing mentions nothing regarding the fact that the demo is, in fact, the first chapter of the full game. The only reason why I was aware it was the first chapter was because the designer, Keiji Inafune, made it known on the Playstation Blog (found here: Otherwise, I would have just assumed it was a demo like any other game demo.

The demo introduces you to the evil sorcerer, the magical book, and the threat of eventual destruction. After the first few battles, you also unlock the unexpectedly enthralling Lore section, which lets you read Grimm-style fables explaining the history of the game's regions and foes. It's actually quite a hefty demo, offering several battles (which can be replayed as often as you like), a dozen different spells, and even several multiplayer battles to engage in jolly co-operation with friends via ad hoc or online lobby. Additionally, once you've beaten the bulk of the solo battles, you'll open up the option to craft new spells using the components of weaker spells, gouge magical sigils into your skin to boost various stats, and assign super-powered Black Rites that deal incredible damage at the cost of marring your body. You also will begin to unlock AI companions that can fight with you.

All of this sounds amazing, right?

Well, it is. The game is fantastic. I already knew I was buying the game (hence the pre-order), but after my fifth battle, I thought to myself "Gee, if someone was coming into this demo without any prior idea of what the game was about, they'd probably never buy the game".

What I mean is that the demo doesn't let you get to the meat of the action like a demo should. It will take about 30 minutes (more, if you read the Lore entries like I did) to get to the point where you've unlocked the multiplayer and customization options. To get there, you have to fight through incredibly quick battles while seeing no glimpse of the game's hidden depth. The game does, in fact, have quite a great deal of depth, but you wouldn't know that if you made your judgement based on the first few battles.

Something that sticks out like a sore thumb is that the initial batch of battles are very short. As long as you've played...any third-person action game ever, you will be able to easily beat the first three battles in about 90 seconds each. Yes. 90. Seconds. Each. It takes longer to actually listen to the mission intros and load the mission than it takes to fight them. BUT! This applies only to the first few missions. As you progress, the missions gain a more respectable length, but if you don't get to this point (due to a short attention span or misguided disappointment), then you'll never see the bigger bosses or tougher missions just a few moments away.

It's cool that your progress carries over to the full game, but you wouldn't know that unless you'd looked it up online. Once again, there is no mention anywhere that your progress can be imported into the retail release of Soul Sacrifice. Perhaps this would have been a good thing to mention.

The fact that the multiplayer and the customization were both locked behind a half-hour of tutorial missions is another huge blunder. Again, unless you read the demo description on the PSN store, you might not have even learned that Soul Sacrifice supports 4-player co-op either ad hoc or online. The customization has a lot to offer, but your options at first are choosing between a few spells and choosing how your character appears. Everything else is unlocked after beating more missions.

Let me be clear: Soul Sacrifice is shaping up to be a fantastic game. I love the combat, I love the art style, I love the background lore, I love the customization, I love the enemies. I love the fact that (if the Japanese version is any indication) Sony will be supporting the game with dozens more free downloadable enemies to slaughter. HOWEVER, unless you've been following this game closely, you might be sorely disappointed by what the demo seems to leave out. In this way, the demo may actually chase away more people than it attracts. I appreciate Keiji Inafune's benevolence in letting us import our progress into the full game, but perhaps the demo should have consisted of a big, epic battle right away to give you a taste of what the game can offer. Instead, we were (unbeknownst to many of the demo's downloaders, I'm sure) given the first chapter of the game, complete with boring tutorials and slow startup.

If you try the demo, be mindful of the things I mentioned. I'd hate for the game to lose appeal due to a bad "demo".

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lex-10201858d ago

I personally like being able to play the actual game and not only the highlights. Take for instance the Bourne videogame, The demo was the best parts of the game. You could play the demo and think "oh hey this game is awesome" and than play it an realize it sucks. But if you could play the full game, or even just 30 mins of the full game, you would know it's bad. To many demos show off only the "best" parts. I would rather be able to play the real game and if I don't like it, than I know I won't like the game. With a demo there is always the wonder if that is how the game is going to be, or if that was just the highlights.

dedicatedtogamers1858d ago

I can respect that. Like I said in the blog, I already knew what I was getting into with this game, so I didn't mind how the demo was set up. However, if someone wanted a quick 10 minute idea of how the game works, they'd probably be left with a poor impression, not unless they pushed through and played a full hour of the game and unlocked the online stuff.

lex-10201858d ago

Thank you for actually replying in a respectful manner to someone who's opinion is different than yours. Such a rare thing now a days.

On topic. I agree with you, someone who had absolutely no idea what this game was about would probably think this is a just a boring set of small missions. I also agree that it might have been a better idea for them to just have the online stuff unlocked from the get go, just for the trial, but still have the demo the way it is. I personally like long demos. But I also agree they need to make the demo something that will get people interested. Though thing to decide.

admiralvic1856d ago

The problem is that it's a double edged sword.

A little while ago Capcom released a demo for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which offered two choices. "easy" or "hard" and which ever choice you made decided how "far" in the game you were going to play. Now mind you, these events take place HOURS into the game, so if you were actually building your town / farming / getting gear, it might be 5 - 10 hours before you hit the point shown in the demo. Why is this important? The game doesn't really explain how anything works, you're just expected to kill a monster. Sure everything is closer to what you were hoping for, but the lack of tutorials and understandings of the systems lead to many people being turned off by the "awful" demo.

The problem with demos is that it can be hard to get them "right". Sometimes we get good intentions that were poorly implemented and other times they make the boring start (as seen here) unbearable. I know the first 5 minutes of Prototype where you were kicking down helicopters made the start of the completely unenjoyable, since I was nowhere near the part I was enjoying.

r211858d ago

Whilst Bourne wasnt the greatest game, it did have awesome combat gameplay. The sneaking in Bourne sucked though. I kid you not, one time, i was going to stealth kill this one guy and everything was going perfectly until the guy turned back instantaneously(pop!) just as i was going to take him down.

lex-10201858d ago

That was totally off topic. My whole point with that was that you could play the demo to bourne and you would have played the best parts of the game. The game never got better, so what is the reason to buy the full game?

Speaking of which I'm going to see if I can pick it up for .99cents somewhere.

r211857d ago

Oh, i thought you played the game. Sorry bout being off topic.

lex-10201857d ago

I did play it. I was just making a point. But I sold it. Gamestop sells it $5.99, maybe I should get it again......hmmm.....

r211857d ago

Well, i would only recommend you buy it if you like intense brutal combat. Thats bout the only good thing bout the game. Everything else is pretty bleh. IMO the game was rough on my thumbs thanks to some of the boss battles.

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Donnieboi1858d ago

Ok so maybe it should have been called a trial version instead. Not worth crying about. It's a deep game and 10 minutes is too short for a game like this since westerners are not used to monster hunter games like japan is, so some of us need a slow and steady introduction on how to play it.

Your complaint has just been answered.

Nicaragua1858d ago

I agree. I just started playing the demo and couldnt help but think it was a bit long winded for a demo.

They should have just done a couple of big fights similar to the one you do in the opening with magasur.

Kalowest1856d ago

Westerners are the casual gamers. Just love to complain when a game is too hard and want big explosions or boss battles ever 5 mins. Nothing was wrong with the Soul Sacrifice demo.

belac091856d ago

i know, i cant believe some of these people, i look at it like i get to start the game before i buy it, and can continue it when i do buy it, im STOKED!!!!!!

Ravenor1856d ago

Seriously dude, eff off.

Trial or Demo, whatever what we have serves that purpose. The blog and Nicaraguas comment are only addressing the potential issue of the less involved skipping over Soul Sacrifice due to a bad experience with the demo.

Szei1854d ago

Don't be a close-minded idiot. I'm a "Westerner" and I love the fact that the demo gives you so much to do. Anyway, games like Dark Souls have sold well in the Western market. I guess that is a casual game. Big explosions? Haha, have you played any Japanese games? Japanese games often feature combat that is way more flashy and over-the-top than Western games. Get your facts straight. The only thing I agree with is that there was nothing wrong with the Soul Sacrifice demo. It was great! One of the best in a long time.

Blastoise1858d ago

I'm not sure I agree personally, I think it's a great demo. It gives you a couple of easy matches to get you used to the controls ect before it puts you up against say, the jack o lantern. You mention this as a negative, and that the game should drop you into the heart of the game straight away, but I feel that may put people off in itself as some of the boss' can be a tough challenge for a new player.

I felt the tutorials and early missions were needed but didn't outstay their welcome. I hate hand holding games & boring tutorials, but like you say these fights are over in very little time so I just saw them as a way to get used to fighting some enemies

"It's cool that your progress carries over to the full game, but you wouldn't know that unless you'd looked it up online. Once again, there is no mention anywhere that your progress can be imported into the retail release of Soul Sacrifice. Perhaps this would have been a good thing to mention. "

I agree with this though, it's a cool feature & it may have persuaded a few people to pick up the game

despair1858d ago

played the first 2 hunts(or whatever its called)the rat and cat ones and enjoyed the hell out of it, still mostly confused but I have it paused on my vita at home and I am looking forward to continuing after work. I thought it nice to have the game from the start, can't wait to try the MP as well.

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