Monster Hunter and Soul Sacrifice are two similar series that take drastically different directions. Both deliver a phenomenal experience on handheld (Soul Sacrifice on the Vita, and Monster Hunter on the 3DS and PSP) focused on players banding together to fight giant, scary, boss monsters.
But that’s where the similarities end. I have seen several games try to move in on Monster Hunter’s market, but Soul Sacrifice is the first to do so in such a unique way that’s worth comparing to reigning king of the genre. So let’s put these two handheld beasts in a ring and see which one comes out alive!
The world of Monster Hunter is pretty light-hearted with bustling cities, cute little cat people, and receptionists that dress like Japanese school girls. Soul Sacrifice, on the other hand, looks like a world spawned from the devil’s nightmares. Rarely do you find a living being who’s not a tormented soul, or a town that has not been previously slaughtered by monsters. Both aesthetics are realized with amazing graphics and fine attention to detail that’s sure to appeal to different kinds of players.
What holds Soul Sacrifice back is the lack of stuff to discover. Missions take place in a single confined area, which streamlines gameplay but limits the scope of battle. Monster Hunter’s maps have multiple locations for fights to spill over into, each presents not only new visual stimulus, but new strategic options as well. It makes the battles somewhat unpredictable, and the world more believable.
ADVANTAGE: MONSTER HUNTER
Monster Hunter games have never had much of a story (though I’m hoping MH4 changes that). The missions are almost comically straightforward: “A monster ate my pig! Please kill it!”
Occasionally a particular monster is hyped up to be a real antagonist, like the Ivory Lagiacrus in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. But since you don’t see the monster until you fight it – and as an animal, it doesn’t exactly have a personality – it never feels dramatic or special.
On the other hand, Soul Sacrifice is all about story. Each boss is actually a human, transformed through some twisted event involving greed, love, betrayal, or some other relatable feeling. This is especially true for the ultimate boss, Magusar, whose twisted past is revealed gradually through the the course of the game.
The story is even woven into the gameplay through the morality/leveling system. Whenever you defeat a monster you must decide whether to save it, or sacrifice it. This in turn affects whether you level up your defensive/healing powers, or your offensive ones. It presents you with a hefty decision: Will you destroy this vile human being, or give them a second chance at life?
ADVANTAGE: SOUL SACRIFICE