In Soul Sacrifice, a superlative action RPG out on April 30th for the Vita but with a demo currently available, I have to fight some orcs. This should be easy. If there’s one thing I know, it’s fighting orcs. I’ve been doing it since sixth grade. Wait, those (pictured) are orcs? What? How do they figure those things are orcs? Soul Sacrifice has a lore entry for every creature. I didn’t intend to read any of these. But it can’t hurt to check just one.
It turns out that rats fed on magic back in ancient times to prevail against cats. This turned some of them into cat-killing goblins. So cats began to calculate the best way to absorb magic themselves. They discovered that the source of magic is human sorcerers, and that by eating humans, they could become powerful. Furthermore, by eating the humans who love them most, they could become even more powerful. This is how orcs are made. An orc is a corrupted cat who has devoured the master who loved him.
I don’t remember that part of Lord of the Rings, in which Peter Jackson established that orcs are basically people in demon/zombie make-up. But as I fling poisoned thorns at these sluggish vaguely caterpillar shaped beasts with huge misshapen vomiting mouths full of human skulls, I can see the cat influence. In fact, they’re downright Cheshire! I’m also reminded of the orcs in Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation of Tolkien. Those orcs had vaguely feline features and huge mouths. It’s nice to see — and read! — a different take on orcs again. And it’s also nice that when you kill these guys, their souls escape in the form of liberated cats that scurry away happily. In that regard, the end of a level in Soul Sacrifice isn’t unlike the end of a level in Sonic the Hedgehog.