Xenogears And Vagrant Story Had a Baby – SacriFire Preview

Written by Marcello TBL


A Love Letter To Classic JRPGs From Pixelated Milk

We initially discussed SacriFire in 2021, and I’m saying this not because I claim to know everything about cool indie games, it’s not that! but to inform that this promising JRPG has been in development for several years. Finally, I had the pleasure to try the demo, which provided me with a substantial taste of what the finished product from the talented team at Pixelated Milk would be like.

Just a heads up, the studio behind SacriFire is the same one that developed the tactical game Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs in 2017 and the Strategic RPG Warsaw in 2019, so I can surely say they have a good track record with RPGs.

SacriFire Exploration

This new project is a pure love-letter to classic JRPGs featuring a dynamic battle system that merges real-time and turn-based combat. The game offers high-quality pixel art and 3D graphics, an original story with moral complexity, a rich fantasy universe featuring a soundtrack by the legendary Motoi Sakuraba and professional voice acting.

The demo of SacriFire brings players to the imminent ceremony of ascension or something similar, introducing the protagonist and some of the other main characters. However, something goes wrong, and mysterious figures intrude during the ceremony. From that point, we will take control of the character and explore the first dungeon.

Two Layers of Exploration

SacriFire features two slightly different layers of exploration. The first is when wandering around cities, done in 3D, allowing for free roaming. The second layer of exploration concerns dungeons. Here, things change slightly, transitioning from 3D to a 2D platformer style, where we will have the ability to double jump to reach higher points, use attacks to eliminate enemies without entering combat, and traverse the different layers of dungeons by interacting with objects and structures.

The Combat System

When we encounter enemies, the scene switches to combat mode, which occurs on small maps where real-time mechanics blend seamlessly with turn-based ones. If you remember the battles in Vagrant Story, SacriFire introduces the same concept, adding new things here and there.

SacriFire Combat System
When You enter the enemy’s range you can attack or be attacked

If we stay still, the enemy will also remain still, and the battlefield will freeze, allowing us to analyze the enemies and carefully plan our next moves. However, once we start moving, the enemies will also start moving and can attack us as soon as their action points (AP) are recharged. The AP bar, which is present for both our hero and the enemy, recharges as we move around the battlefield.

Once we have accumulated enough AP, we can initiate an attack on the enemy by entering the attack range. While in the attack range, we can activate combo mode, allowing us to execute light and heavy attacks depending on the available AP. It’s also possible to take advantage of timing mechanics to increase the efficiency of our attacks.

Light attacks help us gather mana for magical attacks, while heavy attacks are needed to break the enemy’s defense shields. We can also acquire defense shields ourselves by collecting them on the battlefield while roaming to recharge our action points.

SacriFire AP

Another feature allows dodging enemy-ranged attacks by rolling in Dark Souls style using an action point. This is useful for avoiding enemies while waiting to recharge action points. Part of the combat involves elemental affinities, which play a crucial role in successfully winning battles. It’s important to pay attention to the enemy’s weaknesses and defend ourselves accordingly.

Graphics, Music, and UI

When I started playing the demo, I instantly noticed the strong influence of Xenogears, which is not just positive but fantastic indeed. SacriFire features stunning pixel graphics with background scenarios that greatly resemble those of the Square masterpiece. The animations, both during exploration phases and battles, are also fantastic and provide the right context for the game.

The music and sound effects are top-notch, and it couldn’t have been otherwise, given the presence of Motoi Sakuraba, famous for being the composer behind great classics like the Tales series, Star Ocean, Dark Souls, and many others. Many conversations are voiced, and I appreciate the attention to detail, such as the slight echo in the characters’ speech during the initial scenes of the ceremony inside a large hall, which gives a sense of the type of room you are in. It’s a small detail that I particularly liked.

SacriFire Menus
Menus are a hallmark of JRPGs and, in SacriFire are very well done

Another important aspect of a good JRPG is its user interface and menus. In SacriFire, these menus are well-designed, making it easy and enjoyable to check the characters’ status, use experience points to unlock skills, equip items, and perform other actions.

Molig mania

The demo gives the opportunity to explore and experience the mini-game called Molig Mania. It’s essentially a card battle game using coins featuring creatures with different values and specialties. During the challenge, the player and the opponent take turns throwing these coins onto the game table, aiming to have more coins left than the opponent by the end of the session. These coins have a resistance that comes into play when they clash with enemy coins.

Sacrifire Moligmania
Molig Mania is the famous mini-game in Antioch

My Two Cents

That said, I’d like to share my thoughts on what I believe could potentially become one of the best JRPGs of recent times. The game draws influences from Xenogears, and its combat system is reminiscent of Vagrant Story, incorporating enough innovative elements to encourage players to engage in battles.

The dungeon exploration is well-executed and appears to be well-structured, motivating players to thoroughly explore every corner in order not to miss any items. In conclusion, I am almost certain that SacriFire has the potential to be a successful JRPG, or at the very least, one that fans of the genre will not want to miss.

SacriFire will arrive sooner or later on PC via Steam, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. No release date yet though.


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Marcello TBL

Italian Dad in love with Turn-Based RPGs and Indie Games. In 2018 he started Turn Based Lovers and now he can't live without it.