Inspired heavily by the Dark Souls games, a fact that Ska Studios does not try to hide, the developer’s latest offering is set to release later this year on PC and PlayStation Vita with a PlayStation 4 version already available. Salt and Sanctuary is it’s name, so let’s see what it has to offer.
Developer: Ska Studios
Publisher: Ska Studios
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also Available On: PS Vita, PC (Both releasing later this year)
Release Date: Out Now
The game starts with the world plunged into a centuries-long war and after the many years of violence, peace may finally be made and bound by the wedding of a princess. The player is tasked with escorting the princess across the seas so the marriage can take place, however, things don’t quite go to plan.
The boat is attacked by rogues, and monsters leading to the capture of the princess. Washing up on a beach with no one else surviving the attack, it is now up to the player to track down the kidnapped princess and liberate her from her captives.
Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D action platformer with a lot of elements similar to the Dark Souls series including a number of classes to choose, from Knights and Paladins to Clerics and Hunters. If you want to focus on quick combat while being able to keep your distance then the Hunter class is for you. If, however, you would rather take the slow approach and hit like a ton of bricks, then go with the Paladin.
Not only does each class offer a different way to play the game, which is great to have, by the way, but thanks to the leveling up system you can mix and match as well, adding an impressive level of complexity. If, for example, you want your Cleric to hit harder in combat, then pick one of the two handed weapons skills. If you want more options to work with for your Hunter then teach him to use prayers. The multi-classing does come at a price though, expect to do a great deal more grinding than normal. For this reason, players are actually better off sticking with one class while playing the game.
The options only go up once you factor in equipment. There is a plethora of weapons to choose from with swords, maces, crossbows and staffs to name a few. With so many choices for weapons and classes, players should be able to find a combination to suit whatever style of gameplay they want. The only downside to the amount of choice in the game is the skill tree, it’s ludicrous and can be extremely overwhelming at times. The perks branch out in all directions, each branch representing one of the classes. After a while, you will adapt to the massive skill tree, but in all seriousness, there must be a better way to do this.
Next, we have the combat, and this is one of the high points of Salt and Sanctuary as learning the basics is surprisingly easy. You are able to pull off a string of combos on the ground and in the air with a melee weapon, and you can either equip a shield to your off hand for protection, or a one-handed range weapon to have more options in combat. Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, mastering combat is another thing altogether. At first, I found myself taking my time as I entered a new area, with each new enemy comes a new obstacle to overcome. Like the Souls series, even the most basic of enemies can be a threat if you’re caught off guard, but once you know how the different types of enemies attack, combat becomes much easier.
While the basic enemies can be a threat, the true challenge is taking on the many bosses Salt and Sanctuary has to offer. The designs of the bosses are amazing to see, varying between lumbering knights and grotesque chimera-like creatures. Every fight against a boss felt like a test of my ability at the game, as with each new boss came new attack patterns to learn and new strategies to employ. These fights were demanding in skill and came with a great sense of accomplishment every time I took down another boss the game has to offer.
The only problem I have with the boss fights is how the difficulty varies so much. For a few of the bosses, I felt like I was running into a brick wall over and over again with no way of progressing. With a great deal of patience I eventually got my victory, but then the next few bosses would be a breeze, requiring little to no effort to kill. This inconsistency was annoying at times as I could never be sure when the next boss would be a brick wall.
Ska Studios has done a great job creating the world of Salt and Sanctuary, the dynamic environments with constantly changing buildings and enemies makes each area feel unique. There are loads of undead creatures roaming the world, as well as spirits, hulking beasts, and grotesque bosses, this world feels very much alive. Surprisingly, there is a lot of exploration to do in this game despite the lacking of a third dimension. I always got a great sense of joy when I found a new path to explore. All of this is great to see in Salt and Sanctuary, giving it a wonderful world to explore.
In the end, Salt and Sanctuary was a wonderful game to play. There is a great verity of bosses to fight, where each one offers an intense and interesting fight to go through. The environments were great to look at and each area has its unique feel. The only flaws I found with the game are minor and do nothing to hamper the experience. And after playing the game, I just want to dive right back in and try out a different character.