The PS Vita. We used to love it. Playing Gravity Rush in the park, Uncharted whilst waiting for the bus and snapping trees to decorate our LittleBigPlanet. But then… nothing.

Now with the 3DS reigning supreme with triple A titles launching every month, the Vita has just become an expensive paperweight compared to the all-encompassing game changer Sony envisioned at its launch. And with Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway way off in the distance and, well, absolutely nothing of any merit hitting the console before then, it falls to Soul Sacrifice to fly the flag for Sony’s little box of wonders. We’ve gone hands on with Vita’s latest action adventure, and here’s the lowdown. Basically a watered down God of War with spruced up magic attacks and scaled down swordplay, Soul Sacrifice is a bite-size brawler that’s built for on-the-go bouts.

You play as a customisable Sorcerer with a variety of magical abilities – or ‘Sacrifices’ as the game so charmingly labels them – in a series of arena-based battles against half of Greek Mythology. Flying skeleton Harpies, giant Cheshire cat-faced Orcs, sand hyena zombie things – you know, classic mythic critters. But after a couple of rounds in the ring though, what your fighting simply doesn’t matter. It’s how you fight. And that’s where Soul Sacrifice hits a knockout blow.

Combat is great – and with the sheer amount of sacrificial killer blows on offer, it never gets boring. You can throw these giant stone fists around, toss a casual spinning disc of death or 5 and conjure whatever this lava torso monster-hybrid is. And with the unlocks coming thick and fast after every battle, there’ll always be something new and interesting to try out in the next battle. The sheer variety on offer is initially overwhelming. But once you get your head around how they all work, the carnage really kicks into gear. There’s even a nifty levelling up system based around a save or sacrifice dynamic.

Save and you get extra health; sacrifice and your sorcerer goes full-on badass with a range of combat and magic perks. You can even sacrifice yourself. Offer up your skin, and your defences will be reduced by 50 percent, let the gods take your eyes, and your vision will be blurred for the rest of the match. Sacrifice yourself completely, and you’ll be limited to a mere spectator of the match – with the added benefit of seeing enemies’ health bars. Admittedly it’s pretty simple stuff, but Skyrim style depth is never really going to work when you’re on the bus.

Then there’s the multiplayer. Allowing up to 3 players to join your quest from across the PlayStation Network, the multiplayer sidesteps you into in the ‘Avalon Quests’ – side missions that sit parallel to the main story campaign. You can also harvest sacrifices here – with any progress made tallying up with your single player progression. And with human players co-operating better than the AI, multiplayer feels like a more frantic and unpredictable diversion from the single player. With its fast connection as well as ad hoc connections for local players, it offers up a tight on-the-go multiplayer. And that’s exactly where Soul Sacrifice has its’ sights aimed – playing on the fly.

Missions are short, combat is frantic and levelling up is quick. This is a game scientifically engineered for short, sharp bursts of gameplay. And played as a game on the go, Soul Sacrifice actually offers gamers a lot of fun. It’s no nonsense gameplay, small arenas and accessible upgrade system make it perfect for your daily commutes. And the speed at which you progress through the mission will stem any dormant boredom from boiling over.

Okay, so we’ve established that Soul Sacrifice is a great game on the go, but with the Vita holding out so many hopes for a triple A game changer, Soul Sacrifice sadly disappoints. It’s not as cinematic as Uncharted, not as unique as Gravity Rush and certainly not as vibrant – or as fun – as LittleBigPlanet. So if you’re holding out for Soul Sacrifice as the saviour of the Vita, you might as well keep waiting. It may be fun, frantic and full of energy, but it’s not exactly the second coming for Sony’s handheld.

Buy This Game Now

  • Developer: SCE Japan Studios
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
    Release Date: 3/5/13