Salt and Sanctuary (Xbox One) – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, action, adventure
Developer: Ska Studios
Publisher: Ska Studios
Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, Vita, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: Xbox One

Salt and Sanctuary (Xbox One) – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Great soulslike gameplay and fun co-op mode
Bad: Getting killed by a boss twice will cause you to lose all your precious salt
User Score
7.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Dark Souls is known for its brutal and painstaking gameplay and proves that not all games are easy to get through. Many other developers have tried to create a soulslike experience in the same way Dark Souls does, but in a totally different world. This one combines the brutal Dark Souls gameplay in a 2D action platformer, which makes it a pretty unique game. After being released on almost every mainstream console, it couldn’t be out of the question that it wouldn’t get a release on the Xbox One. Now finally, that time is near and we’ve gotten the chance to review this 2D variant to the Dark Souls games on the Xbox One.

Story

In Salt and Sanctuary, you start on a boat with your beloved princess of an unnamed country on a quest to deliver her to the prince of another country to marry him and stop the ongoing war. When this goes horribly wrong, after an attack of a huge horrible beast, you end up stranded on a beach, barely alive, without the princess. Now, your quest is to rescue her and get her to that prince to save your county, and others, from impending doom. This basically sums up the story. The story thickens a bit by talking to other NPCs that tell you about the island you’re on or their own quests. Much like Dark Souls, the most fun in this game is found in its excruciatingly hard gameplay.

Graphics

Salt and Sanctuary proves that you don’t need the most detailed graphics to present a good-looking game. This game looks like it’s hand-drawn by the artists themselves and this makes it a unique game. The color palette of this game is a bit black and white, but this also adds to the grim feeling of the game. The characters, the environment and all the enemies all fit together perfectly in this grim-looking world.

Sound

The soundtrack of Salt and Sanctuary gives a very grim but calm feeling. This calm soundtrack lets you hear your opponents’ movements perfectly. When in combat, the sound of your weapons slashing and smashing at your opponents will totally overrule the music in the background to keep you focused on the battle itself. This soundtrack really fits the grim setting of the game

Gameplay

Salt and Sanctuary is a combination of Dark Souls, 2D graphics and some platforming elements. The world of Salt and Sanctuary has a very dismal feeling. By defeating the many undead creatures this game has to offer, you’ll earn gold and salt. Gold will provide you with new weapons, items and armor that can be bought. The salt that is earned can be used to level up your character, and improve your weapons, pretty much the same concept as spending souls in the Dark Souls games. When you get killed by an enemy, it will steal all salt in your possession, like in Dark Souls. The difference is that you need to kill that enemy to regain your salt. If you die before regaining these salts, they will be lost forever. If you get killed by a boss, you’ll still have one chance to recover them. Beating a boss can cause you to die a lot so the first salts you have when starting a boss fight will most likely be lost forever. If you get killed by the environment, an otherworldly creature will spawn that you’ll need to kill to recover your salt.

The combat in Salt and Sanctuary is what you would expect from a game that bases its gameplay on one of the most merciless game franchises you can find these days. The combat seems fairly easy in the beginning and hacking through some of the small fries is easy, but only at the beginning. When you meet the first boss on your path, you’ll notice that this can be just as merciless. You’ll need to practice your dodging, blocking and parrying timing to really get through this game. This will result in a lot of deaths at some points before finally beating that one hard moment you’re trying to get past. Many players may not like this, but what would you expect from a game based on Dark Souls? Otherwise it would be too easy and you couldn’t even compare it to this franchise.

There’s an expansive skill tree available in this game for you to develop your character. This skill tree will provide you with points  in the essential properties: strength, endurance, dexterity, willpower, magic and wisdom. For example strength will increase your damage with melee weapons and endurance will increase the amount of weight you can equip to move freely while magic will improve the effectiveness of magical spells and wisdom will improve the effectiveness of prayers. You are free to spend your points the way you want with each class, but the best way to improve your character is to implement points in the stats your class uses the most. Spending points in wisdom can be beneficial because that gives you access to some prayers that can heal or strengthen yourself.

This game also features a co-op function that’s very good in many ways but also has its downsides. You can actually create a second player to be played among your own character that will also level-up alongside of the first player. The loot for both players will be the same when one of the two picks it up to keep the game balanced. Enemies will scale, meaning the game will get harder when two players are playing together. But when teamwork is used in the right way, enemies and especially bosses will be easier to defeat. If one of the two players dies, he will wait there until the other player returns there. When you’ve died, the other player can pick up your lost salt, making it an easy way to recover these lost salts. In this mode, it is very important to stay together. If the second player goes off-screen, he won’t be on the screen anymore and if an enemy would attack him at that point, he’s pretty much doomed because it’s hard to attack what you can’t see. To start the co-op mode, you’ll need to offer a ‘stone sellsword’ in one of the sanctuaries on the island. This grants you the possibility to hire a ‘sellsword’ and this will prompt a second player to pick up his controller and start playing. This isn’t the biggest problem if you have one of these at hand in your inventory. If you don’t have any, you’ll need to go all the way back to where you’ve put the last one. These will often drop from enemies or from loot found on the ground.

Conclusion

Salt and Sanctuary is a real tough cookie to crack, something you wouldn’t expect after playing this game for five minutes. The game seems fairly easy at the beginning but will it will really prove otherwise after some time. For people that love playing games inspired by the Dark Souls franchise, this game is a pearl in its own ways. It’s definitely hard to get through and offers many comparable elements in gameplay and character building. As a bonus, you can also play it with friends in two-player co-op. The story isn’t expansive but the hard gameplay makes up a lot for that. If you’re looking for an easy platforming game, you should definitely ignore this one, but if you like a challenge comparable to games like Dark Souls, combined with a 2D-platformer, you should definitely get some fun out of this one.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Salt and Sanctuary (Xbox One) - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Nickskuh


Administration is my job but gaming is my passion!

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