Salt and Sanctuary wowed players by bringing the concepts people love about the Soulsborne titles and applying them to an action RPG. When new a sequel was coming, Salt and Sacrifice, there was a lot of hype and speculation. With about six years between releases, a lot has changed, giving Ska Studios’ Salt ample time to deliver the best quality sequel they can. Now that it is in players’ hands, does Salt and Sacrifice live up to expectations or does it miss the mark?
Salt and Sacrifice‘s story is as much as you want it to be. The basic premise is that you’re part of a group of condemned warriors tasked with eliminating elemental forces known as Mages. Throughout the adventure, you can meet a number of people who fill in some of the lore of the world, along with speaking to people in the main village age to get a better idea of what is going on, or you can just explore and see what happens.
A Look at the Character and Class Creator
Part of the fun is exploring the world. Every level is rather large, often filled with shortcuts and alternate paths that require items from later sections/bosses or require more power than you might possess. Several sections tease bigger threats or offer challenges that truly test players’ abilities, though it makes for an odd arc.
Like a lot of these games, even if peons can kill you, it’s fairly unlikely. Outside of creating more problems or not managing things correctly, most fights come down to whether or not players can overcome the boss. While they can be rather fearsome enemies, they’re in a rather odd place in terms of difficulty.
One of the Many Fearsome Mages
Practically every boss comes down to the same core loop. They have a small handful of moves, many of which can be devastating if handled incorrectly, that must be avoided. These come in two different forms. Enemies that attack areas somewhat randomly or powerful strikes in a given direction. Due to this, stamina is invaluable and something that needs to be used wisely. Attacking wildly or sloppy dodging will eventually result in some kind of damage. Players who enjoy quick action games that require strong memorization, quick movements, and maintaining a rotation will likely love Salt and Sacrifice. Those who don’t, well, there are some ways to mitigate things.
Throughout the world, there are various resources that can be used to craft healing items, projectiles, and equipment and also upgrade said items. This rewards exploration, beating optional bosses/areas, in addition to planning ahead. With the right tactic, many enemies, even some of the more annoying enemies, can be defeated by using elemental advantages, boosting defense, or just maximizing stamina. Many of these will not trivialize said boss, so some level of skill is still needed, though it’s a nice way to approach difficult or just give players a reason to explore every option.
The character level follows a similar logic. There are an absurd number of pathways, with countless ways to build the best character possible. These can be changed through a respec item, useful if you need a different weapon type or more of a specific element, or increased by just grinding it out.
Sometimes the best option is simply returning sometime later, something Salt and Sacrifice often allow. Unless you’re stuck fighting the boss that progresses the narrative forward, it’s possible to get enemies either beyond your current power or skill set. Instead of having to find the trigger for that quest, it will be present and can freely be started at a more beneficial time.
Despite the good, there are some shortcomings in Salt and Sacrifice as well. For a game centered on quick movements, it’s unfortunate that players can’t cancel out of various actions. Where this will most likely occur is when consuming a healing item. During this time you’ll be frozen in place, making it extremely easy for the enemy to damage you. Even though it encourages smart plays, it can be frustrating when a boss does a random attack during the brief window to use the item and you slowly watch your character die or the item wasted from an otherwise avoidable attack. Some will enjoy the more measured style of play, whereas others will find it a bit restrictive.
There are also times when mistakes don’t really feel like mistakes. I know on some runs I’ve had two mages present at the same location and the number of enemies and attacks going on made it impossible to overcome it, especially if you find that out too late. Another is enemies gaining attacks at seemingly random. I don’t mind when there is some kind of cue that things will be different, though it sucks losing to The Green Huntsman because randomly at 30 percent health it charges after firing an arrow. Don’t get me wrong, these things are easy to learn and overcome, it just sucks losing to something at seeming random.
Salt and Sacrifice Review Verdict
Salt and Sacrifice: Salt and Sacrifice is an okay take on the two genres. It has a sizable amount of content to see and explore, though interesting crafting and leveling system, it's just held back by quirks. With extremely aggressive bosses and some more restrictive mechanics, there will no doubt be players who throw in the towel. Thankfully there are a lot of options to help, though they only go so far. – Grant