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Sacrifire (Steam Next Fest Demo) Review | An RPG To Look Out For

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Sacrifire by indie developer Pixelated Milk just released the playtest demo! Read on to learn more about the game, and our review on its demo.

Everything We Know About Sacrifire

Sacrifire Story Plot

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In Sacrifire, you follow newly appointed Bishop Ezekiel Ridan who is suddenly bestowed with an arduous task on his first day—retrieving the holy artifact Malkora from the clutches of the evil Heretics! Join Ezekiel and his crew on an adventure that will lead him to secrets and knowledge that will lead him to question everything he thought he knew.

Sacrifire Gameplay

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Sacrifire’s gameplay is of the standard JRPG flair: you’ll explore different areas and interact with a diverse cast of people, with quests to undertake. You will be able to wield a number of different weapons, craft your own weapons, solve puzzles to advance the story, and explore intricate dungeons.

The combat is a dynamic mix of real-time and turn-based battles, in which time flows according to Ezekiel’s movements. Time stops when he is still, and time picks up again when he’s moving, letting you plan out your moves carefully. While the demo only lets you play with one weapon (the sword) and with no companions, the full release promises to feature party members, multiple weapons, and attack combos that mix together various weapons.

Another aspect the developers teased about is the Virtue system. Virtues seems to be Sacrifire’s answer to a class system, and Ezekiel and his companions won’t be locked to just one, as you’ll be able to switch between these Virtues during combat. It’ll be up to you, the player, to make them the best warriors you want them to be.

Sacrifire Review

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The playtest demo lets players experience the day of Ezekiel’s Ascension to becoming a Bishop of the God Sheol and the chaos that followed. He, along with his best bud Zepheniah "Zeph" Milto and new acquaintance Ava Valeri, were just newly blessed by the Cardinal Adhemar at the heart of Antioch when suddenly—the entire church goes dark. The people are thrown into disarray, and the darkness fades only to show a mysterious hooded figure that steals the holy relic Malkora right in front of Ezekiel and Ava’s eyes. He is then tasked with running after the thief in an attempt to reclaim the relic. And this is where the game really begins.

Firstly, from the get go, the pixel art is wonderful and nostalgic, bringing you back to the times of the earlier consoles like the PlayStation 1. The environment, on the other hand, is also pixelated but rendered in 3D, which makes for an interesting contrast between the character sprites and the background. I really like the bit where there are entrances behind Ezekiel and you can actually go through them, not just the normal side-scrolling entrances on the leftmost and rightmost side of an area. Exploring the world around you is similar to games such as Octopath Traveler and Sea of Stars, but considering it’s an indie game (just like Sea of Stars), it presents the graphics well.

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Almost all of the characters are voice-acted, which is always a nice addition to a game, as it gives a character more personality and gives a better image. But I say mostly because some of the lines don’t always correlate to what is written in the speech bubbles, and some of the lines are only voiced half-way through. In addition to that, for some reason, Zeph’s voice lines are a tad louder than Ezekiel’s or Ava’s in terms of volume (though perhaps that’s just because he’s loud in general). Nevertheless, the voice acting is well done, and it serves to flesh out the characters much more.

The dungeon in the demo is a good sneak peek of what’s to come. Players aren’t just going in and out of rooms, side-scrolling left and right to the next areas—there are some platforming elements in it as well, requiring you to jump over to the next platform in front of you or above you. And while there is the main combat part as written above in the gameplay, you can also easily eliminate normal enemies in the dungeon proper with Ezekiel’s on-field slash attack, chaining up to five at a time before you need to actually battle. This lets you effortlessly reach the boss or bosses with less of the lengthy combat sequences (I’m looking at you, older Final Fantasys and their random encounters!)

On the topic of combat, it’s an interesting fusion of real-time with turn-based tactics. Admittedly, it took some time to get used to, but if you get your combos and timing right, it feels good to have executed it flawlessly. Ezekiel has four Action Points (AP) to spend in his every turn and can easily be replenished when moving around or holding the Right Trigger but that also leaves you vulnerable to opponents’ attacks. You have to use your noggin a little for this game and not just aimlessly smack enemies to victory. It’s exciting to see what else will be added to the combat once his other weapons are available to play.

Dungeons also appear to have puzzles to solve, so you’re not monotonously just whacking enemies out of the way as you traverse. The demo featured a puzzle inside a separate area called Erebus, where you had to move large chandeliers into creating paths for you to traverse. It was a good breather from all the opponents I was casting into oblivion.

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But while I had a great time playing, there were still some drawbacks to it. Since the game is still in development, I’ll chalk up some of the cons as things that can be fully ironed out once the game is actually released.

One of the tiny moments that broke my immersion was at the end of the demo after "defeating" the Masked Menace boss, where they and Ezekiel have one final conversation. While conversing, the Masked Menace is referred to as "????" in their speech bubble. But suddenly, the Masked Menace’s character name appeared once, which made me go "Whaaat!" for a few seconds. This person’s name is later revealed when you meet up with the Archbishop afterwards anyways, but it was kind of a let down since the reveal suddenly becomes for naught. It’s a minor thing and hopefully just a short oversight, but it’s still something I believe should be addressed.

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There were also some minor hiccups with the game displaying a black screen after moving to the next area, but it came back after fiddling with my controller a little bit. Also, when playing with a controller, you are defaulted to the Xbox controller configuration, which may be confusing to those with PlayStation controllers. An option to change the button display would be a helpful addition.

Overall, it’s a well-made game even at pre-launch, with just a few scuffs that leave room for improvement. Sacrifire is definitely in my wishlist, and if you’re a JRPG fan, especially of Xenogears and Vagrant Story, then it should be in yours as well.

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Sacrifire Trailer

Gameplay Trailer

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