When Ska Studios released their sleeper hit Salt and Sanctuary In 2016, a small indie team made it very clear that they understood the key principles of attractive souls-like experience, incorporating all the core elements of the genre that hardcore RPG fans crave. With Salt and sacrificeSka Studios returns with Devoured Studios to deliver another superb 2D reimagining Dark souls, this time with a deeper focus on exploring the world and monster hunter-as an approach to boss fights.
From the very beginning, Salt and sacrifice will be familiar to all lovers souls-like games, as players are killed within minutes of creating a new character and choosing a starting class. The Marked Inquisitor is neither alive nor dead, but a reanimated soul that regularly dies and spawns in a once peaceful world now full of chaos. The Inquisitor can only become strong enough to remedy the situation by using Innocent Shards obtained from boss battles and collecting Salt from slain enemies, which is used as in-game currency to level up. Salt and sacrifice the dreary kingdom of the altar stone. It’s an all-too-familiar storyline and set of mechanics for anyone who’s spent time playing FromSoftware games.
However, the similarities don’t end there. General souls Mechanics such as the Estus Flask, now called Hearth Flask, and Campfires, now called Obelisks, take on the role of healing and rest for players struggling with a brutal world Salt and sacrifice. The game also features a central area from which players can upgrade their character’s traits through a branching skill tree and access a teleporter to reach new zones, much like in 2015. Bloody.
The multiplayer component is new to Salt and sacrifice, offering players the opportunity to seek help in battling the game’s many bosses or take part in PvP action. Very similar to The Testaments Dark souls, players have the option to join different factions such as the PvE oriented Blueheart Runners or the PvP oriented Shroud Alliance. Although it can be skipped and not necessarily for Salt and sacrificemain story, the factions add a neat role-playing element to the game and expand the replayability in multiple save files.
visually, Salt and sacrifice still retains much of its flash game-inspired art style, but with new player and enemy character models. Where before Salt and Sanctuary presented a very ominous and dreary atmosphere painted in monochromatic color tones and dimly lit environments, Salt and sacrifice introduces a new layer of color into its settings. Each zone is more vibrant than before, and the cartoony visual style greatly benefits from this while effectively creating a world on the brink of collapse.
Salt and sacrificethe most notable deviation from soulsThe inspiration comes from its 2D nature, which turns the vast and intricate level design of FromSoftware games into a side-scrolling adventure. The result is an exciting series of levels ranging from ruined cities, underground crypts and snow-capped mountain peaks that expand vertically and horizontally with crypts and dungeons. Salt and sacrifice accepts concepts that souls games often dabble, such as hard platforming and Sen’s Fortress booby traps, and expand on them as a major challenge in traveling the world, sometimes to the point of error.
While classic platformer feeling Salt and sacrifice often funny and keeping players on their toes, it manages to feel dated in some ways. In terms of level design, Salt and sacrifice still seems to work within the first iteration souls-like games. In post-ancient ring the world where souls– likes start to rely more on interesting bosses and mastery of combat mechanics as a driving force to solve the problem, Salt and sacrifice tends to use booby traps and surprise attacks to cripple the player’s health.
Unfortunately, Ska Studios makes many of these traps extremely subtle, often blending in so well with the landscape that only after repeated deaths and returning to the game’s levels will players know exactly where each trap is. For experienced soulsAs with players, all of these design principles may sound like a major part of Souls-similar experience. However, newcomers who have just come out of ancient ring or Tunic, this can add a layer of frustration or even a “cheap” feel as Salt and sacrifice still dogmatically following the original Dark souls level design style.
Fight in Salt and sacrifice also differs from the standard bumper buttons of many Souls-likes by switching to a combo-oriented system with the buttons on the face. Each weapon in the game has its own unique combos, requiring players to alternate between light and heavy attacks to potentially stun an enemy when their balance breaks, or even uppercut them into the air. There are no two identical classes in the game. Salt and sacrifice, offering multiple replay opportunities for players embarking on multiple playthroughs. In addition, a rather forgiving skill tree of the game with numerous reconfiguration possibilities. Salt and sacrifice it is a very versatile game in terms of build.
Players will spend a lot of time going back. Salt and sacrificefive major regions due to Ska Studios leaning towards metroidvania-style platforming mechanics compared to its more linear predecessor. Scattered throughout the world are various Inquisitor tools that unlock new traversal mechanics that will make seemingly mundane parts of the landscape understandable once the player learns how to properly interact with them. Going back and exploring old areas with new tools is always good, because Salt and sacrifice exploration rewards with more loot and, most importantly, more boss fights.
Among the game’s various secondary bosses that dot each region are key Mage Hunts: lengthy excursions in which a spell-marked Inquisitor follows the trail of havoc-causing Mages, eventually leading to a boss fight and culminating in Inquistor devouring their hearts. These mage hunts are of great importance to the player, as hearts open new doorways and mage paths leave high-level enemies carrying important crafting materials. Each magician uses a unique power such as fire, earth, wind, or even fungus. However, despite the many differences in elemental powers, art style, and minions for each Mage, these excursions feel pretty monotonous towards the end of the game. Salt and sacrifice.
Aside from the initial excitement before summoning a new boss, players will find that most bosses use the same three attack types: AoE, Homing Missiles, and Standard Physical, all of which are openly telegraphed and can be dodged. More than anything Salt and sacrifice becomes an exercise in stamina management and zoning when it comes to most Mages, compared to boss fights in others souls-likes, where the 3D plane allows for much more complex movesets and a higher skill ceiling for combat.
This does not mean that the bosses in Salt and sacrifice these are slow things. Combat can get frantic as bosses unleash a series of quick area attacks and homing missiles across the game’s claustrophobic arenas, often pushing players into seemingly hopeless situations. Although, after a certain point with a high level and purposeful build, these Mage fights start to merge mechanically.
Besides, Salt and sacrificeHitboxes are not very well defined, and attacks tend to reach far beyond their intended points of failure. Hitbox issues are exacerbated when the game’s low frame rate cartoonish aesthetic comes into play, creating a level of difficulty that sometimes feels independent of the player’s skill level. Even the most patient Souls fans could bite the bullet when an enemy attack landed in a place where they thought they were safe and was subsequently thrown through a screen, or worse, off a cliff.
However, despite Salt and sacrificeshortcomings with repetitive boss fights, less than perfect hitboxes, and a few outdated world design elements, it’s still a surprisingly entertaining game. Even if its key game loop starts to feel repetitive towards the end, the game doesn’t lag and only ends when necessary.
General, Salt and sacrifice still nails the core elements that make a 2D rethink Dark souls a compelling idea thanks to its fundamental understanding of how character and level development should flow, and its extensive combat system. Adding an extra layer of Metroidvania-style exploration and a unique approach to boss encounters with its Mage Hunt mechanic, Salt and sacrifice sees Ska Studios making space for themselves more than a studio that is good at making 2D Dark souls games.
Salt and sacrifice Releases May 10 for PC, PS4, and PS5. Game Rant was provided with a PC code for the purposes of this review.
MORE: 9 Souls-Like Games That Look More Like Bloodborne Than Dark Souls
Emma Watson opens up about scene from ‘Harry Potter’ that made her uncomfortable
about the author