Today marks the release of the new game Salt and Sanctuary by Ska Studios to the Playstation store and the wonderful folks at Ska Studios were kind enough to provide us with an early access look at the game. Let me tell you from the start: the price point of this game, $17.99, is so worth the money. If you pre-ordered, you got an extra 10% off and get to have 10% more fun with this game. So let’s get into what this game really is…
Salt and Sanctuary is the 2-D lovechild of Castlevania and Bloodborne in the best way possible. More polished than Castlevania and a little more difficult, but not as rage inducing as Bloodborne. Has the dark setting and demeanor of Bloodborne, but again, will not cause brain aneurysms or burst blood vessels in your eye. You will have little to no guidance in this game, so if you’re a fan of handholding, this may not be for you. In this dark world of enemies that appear from the ground, you can absolutely make a wrong turn and end up battling a boss who will completely mutilate you in a single stroke… maybe even a few times.
First thing, you will need to pick your class and skills; your onus lies upon your choice of focus between Strength, Endurance, Dexterity, Willpower, Magic, and Wisdom and how you choose initially and throughout the game will dictate how easy/hard you make this upon yourself.
Let’s say this: the first baddies you encounter will not be a challenge and, by the time you find the first boss you may even feel confident that you have enough skill and levels to be able to beat him. YOU ARE WRONG. Or at least I was.
Much like Bloodborne, your leveling required gathering experience by killing mercilessly. In Bloodborne, it was souls, here you will be collecting Salt. If an enemy kills you, it takes your salt until you kill it and you get it back. If you are killed by another being (or by falling off a cliff) you will lose the salt forever, and trust me that does not feel good. In the game, you will choose a diety which you will devote your Salt to. This diety will allow you to use your level up points to select any number of upgrades, be it strength or magic.
From there, you will take upon yourself the leveling and killing to try to defeat all 20 bosses.
Here’s my breakdown:
This is a well polished game that knows what it’s about. I have yet to find any glitches and haven’t yelled at the game except for my own lack of skill when getting a beatdown. It makes you work for your wins (at least I did) and I truly cheered when I beat my first boss.
There is a slightly annoying gameplay issue that when you dodge an enemy, you can’t dodge through them unless they are moving. Meaning, if your big bad boss is about to shoot you with electricity or fire, but is standing still, and you try to roll past them… you’ll stop at their feet. This makes for an irritating boss fight if, like me, you’re the dodge-and-strike type, it can be hard to adjust.
In addition, there is a pretty predictable way to exploit the game in order to over-level. Because each time you heal at a sanctuary, the enemies are reset, you can find an area you can predictably run through without dying, kill all the enemies, heal yourself and continue this loop until you have enough salt to level up. The downside of this is that with each level, less Salt is earned from easier enemies, so you risk losing more and more Salt if you save it all up to level up 5-10 levels at time. In addition, you can kill yourself by jumping off a ledge or something equally stupid, which means your Salt is floating around as an otherworldly creature; as mentioned before, if you manage to get killed before getting it back, you’ll lose it all, so use caution when using this exploit.
I’ve only played around 3 hours, so there are a lot of questions I still have, but here are some of the most pressing ones:
- What are these black obelisks and how do I activate them??
- What does it mean when a weapon as 1 red line instead of a red X?
- Can you move statues from sanctuary to sanctuary?
- Why did I pick a hair color (and an awesome one at that) if all of the armor includes a head covering that hides your whole face?
- Co-Op? What co-op? The game touts that you can play locally with another player, but as of yet, I haven’t figured out how to do this and if you’ll be playing split screen or shared screen.
- Lastly… why can’t I run??
All in all, this is a great game with a lot of replay-ability from what I can tell so far. I highly recommend this to those who are itching for Dark Souls III as something to pass the time until you fall off the planet for two weeks after March 24.
Be sure to tell us what you think either in the comments, on twitter, or on our Twitch stream coming this week!