Keiji Inafune is one name that every self respecting gamer knows alongside the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto and Sid Meier. He's credited as being the creator of Mega Man and was instrumental in the development of many franchises that Capcom still publishes regularly including Resident Evil, Dead Rising and Lost Planet. He left Capcom a few years ago and is waging a singular war to reinvigorate the Japanese gaming industry.
Inafune's first step is a 3DS game that takes the classic Chinese epic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and places it in a pirate setting. His next game for the PS Vita - Soul Sacrifice - is turning a lot more heads though. The game is all about sacrifice. For the player to perform amazing feats of magic, they must be willing to give up something precious. One example is the player must rip out their own spine to create a sword.
It's this theme that Inafune is trying to convey when he talks about "reality blended into a fantasy world." He recently published his thoughts on the PlayStation blog where he also announced that the game would be hitting North America.
What I wanted to illustrate in this game was a “reality blended into a fantasy world.” The word “fantasy” normally points to a story that is fictitious; however, with Soul Sacrifice I wanted to illustrate a “reality” within a fantasy that wasn’t sugar-coated. It’s not about focusing on the strange, but to flip the commonly held concept of what a fantasy theme should be with the concept of “reality.”
Cruelty is a reality in our world, and we have to make sacrifices and pay costs on a daily basis. I wanted to blend this “reality” theme into a fantasy world, one filled with magic, and create a new type of gaming experience that relied on the player making sacrifices in order to obtain great power.
There is a “dark pleasure” lying in between fiction and reality that none of us knew was there. If you simply think of it as a “dark fantasy,” then your expectations will be betrayed – but in a good way. Please look forward to Soul Sacrifice. It will be a game that players around the world will surely enjoy.
That's some pretty hard hitting stuff coming from the man who created the goofy world of Mega Man. That's the point though as Inafune is hoping to challenge the kind of themes that we're used to seeing in video games. It's very rare to see mature subject matter beyond petty violence and sexuality being addressed in games. The indie movement has surely helped push larger game developers to question their own motivations and move toward games that task the player to think as much as they act.
Check out the first trailer for Soul Sacrifice below. It's looking to be a good one and is one more reason that I have to get a Vita sooner than later. Sony promises to show more of the game off at E3 so look forward to that as well.