Salt & Sacrifice
Soulslikes are dime-a-dozen these days with both multinational corporates and modest indie developers trying to cash in while the genre’s hot. But before all of this, there was Salt & Sanctuary. A humble but brutal 2D action-platformer developed by the dynamic duo James and Michelle Silva. Salt & Sanctuary may look all cute and snuggly from the outside but the innards are a whole different story. While not as punishing as its big brethren, the game managed to provide a challenging and extremely satisfying gameplay loop of killing and dying. Six years have passed since then and a slew of Soulsborne inspired games have come out. Ska Studios, the studio owned and run by the Silvas are back with a sequel- Salt & Sacrifice to reclaim their top spot on the indie Soulslike (I feel more dumb every time I say this word smh) market.
Salt & Sacrifice is a 2D action-platformer/RPG developed and published by Ska Studios. The game is now available for PlayStation 5|4 and PC exclusively via Epic Games Store for USD $19.99.
Bigger & Better
Look, I can basically sum up the review right here if you want.
>Is Salt & Sacrifice a good game?
>Is it a good sequel?
>Is it challenging?
Sometimes more than it needs to be.
>Will I like it if I loved Salt & Sanctuary?
>I’m new to these kinds of games. Should I try it?
Masochism makes the world go round.
By and large, Salt & Sacrifice is a proper by-the-book sequel. It takes everything good from the first game and doubles down on it. If you’re a fan of the original, then this sequel absolutely frigging slaps. But, if you’re looking for a more sane and detailed answer as to the quality of the game, then let me do the honours.
Way Down We Go
The gist of the story is that Altarstone Kingdom is being terrorized by Mages, creatures of elemental chaos (or something like that). You play as one of the Inquisitors, an organization formed for the sole purpose of hunting down these Mages. You’re basically here to kick ass and seek absolution for your sins. What sins, you may ask. Well, that is completely up to the player to choose upon creating a new cute character.
The world is a dark, dangerous place, even for someone as skilled as you. The muted colour palette (but hey, at least there are colours this time), oppressive atmosphere, disturbing lore and grotesque monstrosities makes Salt & Sacrifice an often unsettling but engaging game. If you want to show your friend what indie developers are capable of, then look no further than this. Salt & Sacrifice is indie talent at its peak.
Being a Soulslike (oh good lord), Salt & Sacrifice is a familiar hunting ground for gamers familiar with From Software’s outings. The game lets you control 2D sprites in a sprawling 2D world that is separated into five hubs. Each hub is made up of interconnected areas that open up in a Metroidvania-
like fashion. Much like the first game, exploration is highly rewarding and enjoyable thanks to diverse level design.
Stuff you expect from a standard Soulslike (just FML) are also present like fast and heavy attacks, i-frames, rolling, blocking, parrying, a plethora of playstyles and more. Salt & Sacrifice goes the extra trouble to feature combos that are easier to pull off, air-juggling, a crafting system, weapons with vastly different combos and featuring Runic Arts, which is a fancy name for weapon specific special moves to give you an edge against the game’s brutal enemies. For the most part, the combat is visceral, well-animated and has a good feedback compared to other Souls-inspired games like Death’s Gambit. There is a decent amount of items and playstyles present in the game to warrant multiple playthroughs.
A Sense of Deja-Vu
But of course, frustrating features from the sub-genre are also present. Soulslike backtracking is either a swift affair or like pulling stapler pins out of your penis. Sadly, the backtracking in Salt & Sacrifice is like the latter. Since you’ll die often, you’ll have to haul ass over and over again through dangerous stretches of land either by tediously dispatching respawned enemies or trying to i-framing out of harm’s way. I’ve been stunlocked to death more times that I can say “Soulslike”.
The game also features a boss fight design that is seldom used in games. Mage Hunts acts like a separate mini game where you have to track and chase bosses through scripted areas and chip off their health bars in multiple encounters before finally culminating in a boss fight. It’s a nice deviation from the standard Souls boss fights. However, this also means that retrying boss fights upon death is a massive sprain in the groin. There are also times when this system forces the player into impossible-to-win scenarios. But hey, I bet there are gamers who legit enjoy these types of features. The inclusion of multiple hubs rather than one giant interconnected world like in Blasphemous also put me off a bit. By no means is the hub system bad but I’m just a sucker for bigass Metroidvania levels. And I sure love not being able to pause the game even while playing offline. It’s not like we have anything else to do, right?
Similar to Dark Souls, there are multiple multiplayer modes present, ranging from friendly co-op adventures to hectic PvP battles. Sadly, the university internet does not have gaming as a top preference. But I’ve been told that the multiplayer modes are needlessly complex to get working. But that’s just second hand knowledge to me.
Salt & Sacrifice is a very challenging game and that may put off a lot of people. But these games are made with a very specific audience in mind. For fan, the sequel is a bigger and better version of the first game with a satisfying kill-die-repeat gameplay loop. It doesn’t make any compromises in quality and that is quite evident from the look of the game to how it play. If you’re someone who’s not put off by the challenge (that’s sometimes needless) and “immersive” Souls features, definitely give Salt & Sacrifice a try. It’s definitely worth one’s salt….hahaha…I’ll see myself out.
FINAL RATING: RECOMMENDED