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February 2023

Salt And Sacrifice

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Ska Studios
Release Date: May 10, 2022


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PS5/PS4/PC Preview - 'Salt and Sacrifice'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 22, 2021 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Salt And Sacrifice is a soulslike platformer where you, as a Marked Inquisitor, are tasked with hunting heretical Mages infesting Alterstone Kingdom.

When it was released in 2016, Salt and Sanctuary was arguably one of the earliest Souls clones. It stood out by taking the Dark Souls formula and applying it to a 2D Metroidvania style. It was a charming little title that carved out a distinct niche for itself. The follow-up, Salt and Sacrifice, has a lot to live up to. The Souls-like genre is far more crowded now, and there are a fair number of contenders — even only in the 2D format. Thankfully, it looks like Salt and Sacrifice is putting its best foot forward.

The premise is that your character is someone who has committed a terrible crime, which can be anything from banditry to blasphemy. Regardless, your crime is serious enough that your only way out is to become a Marked Inquisitor. In the presence of magic, it is impossible for you to die, and your body is held in a sort of half-life. The only way to return to life is to kill and devour mages. It's a half-gift, half-curse, and it's kind of a crappy lot in life, but at least you're not dead, right?

When creating a character, you can customize a few different options. There are pre-defined classes such as Cleric, Duelist or Fighter; they have different base stats and starting weapons, but in true Dark Souls style you can swap stats to try different builds. You also can pick your crime, which starts you off with different equipment. For example, Blasphemy starts you with a special candle that, if lit, causes anyone attempting to invade your game to become a target for the enemy AI. An Arsonist gets fire bombs. It's nothing game-changing, but it's a nice bit of flavor.

Combat is … well, it's the very familiar Dark Souls formula. You have a block, dodge, parry, stamina system, and all sorts of familiar gameplay elements. Salt and Sanctuary's big thing was bringing the Souls formula to 2D, and Sacrifice continues the mold. You can use heavy-hitting weapon or short, fast weapons or all sorts of things in between. At a bare minimum, it looks like there will be a nice variety of builds and tons of upgrading to do. Of course, in true Souls fashion, you'll be able to invade another player's game to help them out or make their lives a living hell.

It's also a tremendously lethal game, more so than even similar 2D Souls-likes such as Death's Gambit. I'm sure this will change as one learns the game, but early on, trying to button-mash is a great way to die miserably. You need to take your time, scope out enemy weaknesses, and attack when they are weak. Nowhere is this truer than in the giant boss battles, where a single wrong move can leave your Inquisitor little more than a smear on the ground.

Salt and Sacrifice shifts away from the more Metroidvania-style of the first game. Instead, you have a central hub zone where you can buy and upgrade items. Within that area, there is also an Arch, which requires certain combinations of runestones to open. Should you find a combination, you can use it to go to a new area. These areas are more Metroidvania-esque and have multiple paths to explore, but by and large, the game seems to have adapted to a more mission-like structure.

Your goal in the game is to hunt down mages, which is different from a standard boss fight. In the preview build, you have to follow a trail to hunt down a mage. Once you find one, you get into a mini-encounter with any enemies or obstacles he throws at you. Continue the hunt until you run him down, and you eventually corner him and engage in a more standard boss fight. Defeat him, and his heart is yours. The exact purpose of this isn't clear in our demo, but you can presume it's important.

Overall, Salt and Sacrifice looks like it has the strong potential to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Sure, it doesn't divorcing itself too much from the now-common Souls-like gameplay, but it's clear that a lot of effort is being spent on making it feel distinct. The new mission structure and addition of multiplayer should offer up more options for quicker, shorter missions, and the high level of lethality are exactly what hardcore gamers are seeking. Here's hoping that when it releases in 2022, the final version lives up to the demo and makes its mark among the other titles on the market.

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