After the success of Salt and Sanctuary in 2016, indie developer Ska Studios was able to settle for its glory when designing a 2D soul-like sequel. Instead, the two studios did the opposite, drawing from the fusion of influence and creating a game that was significantly different from their predecessor. Salt and Sacrifice is more than just 2D soulslike. It still holds a lot of fundamentals in this genre, but references to Metroidvania, and decisively Monster Hunter, are much more prominent. It’s characterized by satisfying combat and progress, but many of its risks aren’t always rewarded, and this bizarre formula hasn’t reached its full potential.
Salt and Sacrifice casts you as a blamed prisoner of a kingdom that has fallen by malicious magic. Giant creatures are now roaming the land, and the cause of all this pollution can be traced back to the malicious mage who is now creeping into each region. Given either the practice of mage hunting or the option of life, the latter was chosen to track down these dangerous mages and devour their hearts to ensure that the kingdom survived. Become a mark inquisitor. Create characters and routinely destroyed by powerful bosses like true souls, then talk to different NPCs, level up your character class, create and upgrade new weapons and armor. Wake up in the Padner’s Veil, a hub area where you can wake up. Then stroke the adorable cat with armor.
There is also a mirror gate here. Mirrorgate is a fascinating portal where you can teleport to different parts of the kingdom. Each acts as the core gameplay loop of Salt and Sacrifice and is home to numerous mages that must be cornered and killed. By exploring the area, you’ll discover evidence to initiate a mage hunt and create a particle trail to track your prey directly. Like Monster Hunter’s Beast, mages aren’t limited to a single boss arena. As they roam the area, you need to fight them several times. And summon themed mobs to slow you down as they go. After doing enough damage, you can finally trigger the final showdown, move on to the traditional boss battle, and finally end the mage forever.
Each region has a set of named mages that need to be defeated to open a sealed door that advances the game and blocks access to new areas. Dividing the game world into separate zones (similar to the demon soul) loses some of the interconnectivity of the vast map of the first game, but each region is still quite large and has a maze-like design. And it has all the characteristics of a classic Metroidvania. With the traversal tools you need, you’ll get a glimpse of inaccessible areas that you’ll need to return to later. Find a satisfying shortcut back to the obelisk where you can rest beside you and scale your impressive cliffs with the exact platform. Whether you’re walking slowly through a small area of an underground mine or looking inside a wooden boat on a snow-capped peak, the area is visually diverse.
The problem with these complexly designed areas is that SaltandSacrifice doesn’t have a map, somewhat mysteriously. This isn’t a problem if it’s still a traditional fairly linear soul-like, but it’s a particularly weird omission given the roots of the game Metroidvania. It adds a boring element that shouldn’t exist because you’ll have to re-search for a door that you found a few hours ago but can only open. This is further complicated by the fact that you cannot move fast between obelisks or choose which door to spawn. When entering the area. There are lots of repetitive backtracks that don’t need to be here, spoiling the rest of the game.
This also means fighting the same monster over and over while adventuring in a familiar place. Fortunately, the wide range of enemy types is numerically impressive. They range from your standard goblins and shooters to skeletons with towering sentry armed with insect scissors protruding from their shoulders and electrified hammers. The show’s art direction and creativity are a joy and support you on your toes with unique attack patterns and potential weaknesses for each type of enemy. Salt and Sacrifice employs a fluid combat system consisting of light and heavy attacks, evasive rolls, parry, and blocks. Your attacks and movements are particularly good compared to previous games, giving each battle a fast pace to betray its stamina management. Slicing and slicing a horde of enemies is inherently satisfying-because a gush of blood follows the blow of each injury-and it lacks weight, but each battle offers a fascinating challenge. To do.
Weapons of free use come from the idea of Monster Hunter, and each type of weapon has its own feel and move set. I started with a common high blade and eventually created an improved version that could do elemental damage and do more pain, but each one uses the same combo and basic attack. rice field. This may sound like a limitation, but once you get used to the move set, you can augment it with the potential rune arts of each weapon. These are special abilities that are unique to a particular weapon and give a sense of individuality within the frame of a wider range of weapon types. By killing enemies and building a rage meter, I was able to wrap the first high blade I created in flames. The arc surge used in much of the second half of the game caused a wave of dark energy projectiles that destroyed everything in its path.
Salt and Sacrifice’s Monster Hunter DNA is also reflected in how you create and upgrade weapons and armor. Defeating a mage and a bunch of summoned minions will give you many body parts that you can use to make one or two gears. If you want to create a complete armor set or additional weapons, you’ll need to look for the same mage again to get specific materials and upgrade components. This can be done by going back to the area and tracking them again, or by opening hidden areas and revealing tougher variations of each boss who will lose even more rewards when defeated.
It’s certainly a grind-worse by the lack of maps in the game and fast movements-but in most cases it provides a fun gameplay loop if you’re willing to accept it. The battles of bosses are diverse and each presents its own challenges. It may seem daunting and almost insurmountable at first, but once you’ve learned the attack patterns and found an opening that you can avoid and attack, it’s easy to settle into a comfortable but tense rhythm. The progress of the loot is also satisfactory.
However, as the game progresses further, the combat system begins to reveal some suspicious design decisions that are consistent with the increasing difficulty of the boss. For example, stamina regeneration will stop when damaged. This makes it very easy to be stunned and die. This issue can occur when faced with multiple enemies, but most often when you start fighting an overly aggressive mage without an attack cooldown. Most bosses also unleash an attack that knocks you into the sky, but escape because there is no i-frame to prevent you from juggling and dying, as seen in most other soulslikes. How to protect yourself. Recovery is also a little too slow. Especially considering that some mages attack you with attacks that do damage over time. Enemies also have the habit of standing on shelves or ladders to prevent you from climbing. This is a minor frustration compared to others, but they are all summed up.
Even healing potions are limited, despite the fact that they are replenished with all obelisks. The materials needed to create them are so abundant that they rarely get in the way of cultivating them, so it’s unlikely that you’ll run out, but you’re repeatedly throwing yourself at a single boss. If they dry, they may potentially dry out. The only recourse in this situation is to abandon hunting to collect material and add more backtracking. It feels like a layer of unnecessary crushing that punishes those who are particularly struggling.
To make things a little easier to handle, Saltand Sacrifice has added some familiar multiplayer options. If both enter the same passcode, you can collaborate with your friends to play the entire game. Players can summon each other for cheerful cooperation. There is also a PvP invasion, with multiple NPC factions offering various rewards to reduce fellow invaders. However, it’s unclear if the player base will be large enough to support these options, at least on PCs. So far, I’ve had a hard time connecting with someone else by trying to summon someone to my world or by offering myself as a collaborator. This is a shame.
It’s also a pity that Saltand Sacrifice doesn’t reach its full potential. Ska Studios has created an ambitious sequel that incorporates elements from both Monster Hunter and Metroidvania genres and combines them into one vast 2D soulslike. In most cases, this curious fusion is successful, offering snappy combat, a labyrinthine world to explore, and a tense boss battle with a huge number of challenging enemies. Unfortunately, it’s also because the lack of maps and fast-moving systems adds additional boredom to its grind, or because the combat system is overly punished in a way that feels unfair and unbalanced. , Brings out many frustrating moments. Salt and Sacrifice still offers a fun distillation of familiar elements, but too many problems prevent it from achieving greatness.