Reviewed on Nintendo Switch; Also available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
Having never been able to stick out a Souls game, I thought Salt and Sanctuary would give me an easy journey into the Genre. Boy was I wrong.
Every story needs a protagonist; in Salt and Sanctuary, you get to create your own. But you don’t just get to decide how your character looks, you also get to decide your character’s Origin and Class. Choosing your Origin will have no in-game effects to your character, just merely adds in a little more backstory, but choosing your class is a little more serious. This decides your starting equipment and also decides where you will start on a very plentiful skill tree. For Example, choosing a Knight will start you off with a Sword & Shield with Heavy Armour, whereas choosing a Mage will start you off with Magic using a Wand with Light Armour. There are currently 8 Classes to choose from so choose wisely.
Your story begins with you waking up on a boat where you must very quickly learn to use that trusty sword of yours (or, you know, any other weapon you may have chosen to start with) and start attacking as it seems Bandits have taken over the ship, killing everyone upon it! As you fight your way to the top deck you encounter a very huge monster that I think somehow, you could kill, but you’re not supposed to. After your likely demise you wash up ashore an unknown land. You venture forth where you meet an old man speaking in riddles. He gives you the option to answer Yes or No to his questions, though you are not really sure what you’re agreeing or disagreeing to. Now, what you don’t know is that choosing either Yes or No decides your Faction or Creed in the game. Essentially, depending on which Faction you are with gives you different benefits throughout the game. But don’t worry, you are able to change your Faction. Eager to find out where you are and what Is happening you go seeking answers in an extremely dangerous World like no other.
Salt and Sanctuary is a souls-like 2D platformer game and yes, it is just as difficult as any other souls game. From the get go you’re not told anything. It’s a completely ‘figure out for yourself’ experience and it’s great. You will die a lot, you will see the same areas a lot and you will grind a lot, it’s all about trial and error. That being said there are many different areas to explore and many different enemies to encounter within those areas. Roughly 12 different areas and 90-ish different enemies and that’s not even including the bosses. We will come on to them later.
Over time you will have to learn how each enemy attacks in order to avoid sudden death. Killing a ‘weak’ enemy is easy, encountering multiple ‘weak’ enemies is not. You have to constantly be aware, not only of your enemies but also of your surrounds as there are traps hidden around the areas everywhere. Learning what to look out for to avoid these traps is key; activating a trap just at the right time for it to hit an enemy is perfect. Although, this never really worked out for me. I got killed by traps A LOT. Because of my own idiocy mainly, I would walk through a specific area multiple times and still forget to jump over that single trap wire. Listen to me readers, do not be like me, be good.
What do you get for killing enemies? The sheer joy of knowing you can kill it! I’m kidding, much like the souls games, you gain Salt which is used to level up your character at a Sanctuary. Sanctuaries are exactly that, your safe space. The place you go to do anything important really. Leveling up, upgrading weapons and armour, putting points into your skill tree. Like I said anything important. The amount of Salt needed up level up varies depending on your level. It starts off with a particularly low number and slowly gets greater and greater. It’s when you get to the higher levels that it’s more of a panic to leave the Sanctuary, as getting killed means you drop your salt and you must return to the same location and defeat the enemy that defeated you in order to regain them. Die upon trying to retrieve your salts and they’re gone for good. Which is extremely infuriating, I lost 8000 souls once. Oh, I was mad.
So, I’ve already said how you have to learn everything for yourself, this includes for items you pick up as well. You will be picking up items all the time, whether they are dropped by enemies or found in chests, these items could be pivotal for your survival, but you wouldn’t know unless you checked it. So, every item you pick up, look at the description. Sometimes even doing this still doesn’t give you any idea of what an item does and on some occasions, I had to look it up online, I know, naughty.
Now, onto those pesky bosses. There are 19 in total, each of them unique and each of them difficult in their own ways. The key to defeating bosses in Salt and Sanctuary is to learn their attack patterns and roll. A lot. Rolling at the correct time can dodge an attack and can save you on many occasions. Master the roll and you will be fine. Expect to die a great deal on the game’s bosses, this is how you learn how to actually defeat them. Don’t let it discourage you and plod on. I felt like giving up quite a lot on certain bosses but trust me, there is no better feeling than finally defeating that boss you have died way too many times on.
The game does have local co-op which works great although is a little confusing to actually get started. It’s not a case of just selecting it from the menu. You probably wouldn’t really find it out unless somebody told you how, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. So, first off you must create a new character. Get to the first Sanctuary and then quit back to the main menu to select your character. Go to a Sanctuary, more importantly, go the alter in your Sanctuary and make an offering. You want to select the Stone Sellsword (You should have it). Placing this will make a sellsword appear in your Sanctuary. Go and speak to him and tell him you would like to hire a sellsword. Ta-dah! You’re in. I do wish it was online co-op though, the only thing that let me down. It would’ve been great.
Graphics & Sound
Everything you see in Salt and Sanctuary Is hand-drawn and it looks great. It’s all very dark and dingy which suits the game perfectly. Every enemy is different, every boss is different. The entire thing being hand-drawn is impressive enough but everything looking different is amazing. Clearly, a LOT of effort, time and dedication has been put into every corner of this fantastic World.
I’ve got to be honest, whilst playing through Salt and Sanctuary I didn’t really much attention to the music. Purely because I was so engrossed in the game and trying not to die that I just didn’t hear it. This is the effect this game has on you, you will get addicted and you will pretty much drown anything else out. But, when I realised this, I began to listen, and I’m glad I did. Again, suits the game perfectly. Spooky, dark and heavy. Brilliant. Have a listen;
If you like souls-like games then you will love Salt and Sanctuary. It’s difficult but it’s extremely rewarding and will keep you hooked for hours and hours. With so many enemies and bosses to encounter and so much loot to collect this is simply a game that is rammed full of content. You will constantly be learning new things, even after 35 hours I still encounter items that I have no idea about and to top it off it has a level cap of 500. Although it would probably take you thousands of hours to get that far. All that for a mere £13.59. It’s a no-brainer.