Destiny of Spirits Beta Impressions

I like to be positive about games I play and review where possible, and I believe that in any game, no matter how bad, there will always be positive aspects to learn from and admire. This holds true for the Destiny of Spirits Beta (DoS) that’s just finished on the PS Vita, but I can’t in all honesty say that the game wasn’t a disappointment.

The Vita is still lacking in great games and while the sales have been rising in the run up to the PS4′s release this month there has been a long break between killer apps for what is possibly the best gaming handheld device ever created.

DoS seems like an attempt by Sony to attract a new type of gamer to pick up the console and lure existing owners into a more social series of games. You could easily describe the game as Pokemon Lite; with monster battles and… no that’s pretty much it. Working off a grid based world map created from your location data. (A cool feature the Vita has made useless by not having 3G in every console coupled with battery draining WIFI). You essentially battle to procure more Spirits that battle harder and harder monsters while sharing your Spirits with other players or recruiting their help when you’re stuck with a boss.

It’s a social game through and through which at the moment, with such a small Vita adoption rate, I can’t say really matches the players needs; it’s hardly the game people are screaming to get their hands on or an experience they’ll want to sit through. With the social aspects come micro transactions, again like Facebook, which force you to buy a particular type of in game currency to buy the games best stuff… my only problem here is that the game’s best stuff isn’t from the game.

In an effort to bring in more fans to the game characters from other Sony games can be recruited as spirits (two were available in the Beta; Gravity rush being the one I focused on). This is a very interesting idea, having major characters from other games appear and fight for you like Dante from Devil May Cry once did in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (a much better game then this that adds a full story and takes out the social stuff btw, in fact this might more actually be Shin Megami Tensei: Lite) However this feature is nullified a bit in that while you can choose the game, your paid for spirit from the character you end up receiving is very much randomized which does make it feel like a game of chance; something I have no problems with until I’m paying money for it.

The game is very pretty however, though its all 2D (no 3D monsters here), with a lovely full video opening animation which shows higher production qualities then your average Facebook game of this type, but once your past that you quickly settle into a routine which knocks you out of the fun. If a more casual gaming audience owned the major percentage of the Vita’s in the world this would be a perfect fit but as it stands this might as well be on the Ipad where it’d find a very good audience.

So overall I feel that this game is just misplaced, it’d be great on a more social medium; either brower based or I/Android devices. It does nothing to take advantage of the Vita aside from the touch screen and location data which most seems to go under used anyway (I’ve never got any hits from my location data travelling around the UK)

Being a Beta there’s always time for things to improve, but right now its just not the game the Vita needs; which isn’t to say it won’t find an audience, just that there’s a bigger audience else where that would welcome it. Which might just be Sony’s plan; to get some of them into buying the Vita… nothing wrong with that but if you’re after a Killer app for the Vita try Tearaway instead.

David Ryatta