Salt and Sacrifice – Review
Follow Genre: Metroidvania, Soulslike
Developer: Ska Studios
Publisher: Ska Studios
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5
Tested on: PC

Salt and Sacrifice – Review

Site Score
7.3
Good: Good ideas, great art
Bad: Lacking execution, lots of grind
User Score
8.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Back in 2016, a game by the name of Salt and Sanctuary was released. Said game offered players a 2D Metroidvania twist on classic Soulslike gameplay and it was received with great acclaim. Now, six years later, a follow-up to Salt and Sanctuary has been released, featuring similar mechanics while trying new things with the formula. Does it live up to its predecessor?

Story

In the vein of other Soulslike titles, Salt and Sacrifice’s story is rather vague and inferred through snippets of lore scattered throughout the world. Players will see themselves as “Marked Inquisitors”, criminals given another chance at life in exchange for killing dangerous mages running amok. At the beginning of the game, players will travel to Pardoner’s Vale, a hub with fellow inquisitors from where they’ll set out to hunt the warlocks.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are rather good and consist of dark and gloomy hand-drawn designs for both areas and characters. Said areas are rather varied and unique, and these are largely distinct from one another on top of featuring unique enemies with little repetition. The bosses themselves also stand out from each other despite sharing certain characteristics in most cases, with the mages themselves being the highlight.

Sound

Salt and Sacrifice’s sound design is rather decent, although it doesn’t particularly stand out. Its soundtrack is mostly composed of moody songs which serve to set the tone alongside the aforementioned designs. The SFX aren’t particularly noteworthy either, simply doing their job without being flashy or annoying. Other than this, the game doesn’t include any voice acting or additional features.

Gameplay

As previously mentioned, Salt and Sacrifice is a 2D Metroidvania with Soulslike elements. Alongside this, the game has also included certain mechanics borrowed from Monster Hunter to create a potpourri of elements. The main gameplay loop will see players exploring the game’s areas while fighting enemies spread throughout them. At certain points in these areas obelisks can also be found. At these obelisks, you’re able to refill both health and items (assuming the player has enough materials) but enemies will also be respawned when doing so.

Similar to other games with Soulslike features, Salt and Sacrifice provides a wide variety of possible builds for players to experiment with. These rely on the different stats one may level up by expanding the skill tree. Each of these also affects attributes such as player health, stamina, etc, impacting the gameplay at its core. However, it is worth mentioning that due to the game’s focus on stunlocking enemies (although it might be seen as a “cheese strat” by some) and dodging, builds that lean into dexterity are favored.

The game’s main event in each of its areas is the battle against the mages. These battles begin with a segment where players will have to find hints left behind by the creature in order to track it down (thus the Monster Hunter mechanics). To do so, they’ll have to chase a particle effect that will pop up on screen until they reach the monster. Once they do so, they’ll have to chip away at it throughout a few scuffles before leading it to an arena for the proper battle. These chases are often peppered with smaller enemies summoned by the mages, alongside those already in the level. This means fights are often protracted in time and, should players die, this also boils down to losing mounds of time to a repetitive gimmick. Additionally, it is rather common for two mages to stack on the same location, forcing players to deal with two bosses at once, on top of the smaller enemies already present.

Upon defeating a mage, players will acquire their unique drops, utilized for creating armors and weapons with unique properties. Some of these weapons will also have special abilities known as “Runic Arts”, being the equivalent to spells in this game. The weapon crafting system also works much like Monster Hunter’s, requiring repeated hunts of the same mage in order to acquire all of the materials required. This also somewhat applies to the previously mentioned consumable items, which all require crafting materials to be created, further increasing the grind.

Other than this, it is worth mentioning the game has neither a fast travel system nor a map, thus making traversal rather tedious. This, combined with the possibility of having to repeat hunts from the start, means players will often be forced to backtrack long distances through confusing layouts without any guidance. Although this is not a massive drawback, it is certainly a baffling decision that subtracts from what the game provides.

Conclusion

Salt and Sacrifice is not what players of the original might expect and some will certainly be let down. The game focuses much more on grinding and boss fights than the original ever did, and those looking for a traditional Metroidvania will probably not find it here either. This, added to the more annoying design decisions, ultimately make the game a questionable recommendation for anyone but those who know what to expect. We did have quite a bit of fun with this one, but it didn’t feel like it was part of the same series as the original game.

Personal Opinion

“I’ve enjoyed my time with Salt and Sacrifice, I don’t think it’s a bad game (as much as fans of the original might make you believe so). However, this isn’t to say it’s an amazing game either, but it has some interesting ideas and runs with them to create a unique experience. As an avid Monster Hunter player, I suppose I have a much higher tolerance for grinding and repetition, although I can definitely see how these mechanics don’t fit with the core gameplay. Additionally, the lack of a map and fast travel, on top of the limited traversal mechanics, only slow down said grind. If the player starts wondering how much time they’re wasting with repetition, it is probable you’ll lose them.”

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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Salt and Sacrifice - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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