It is important to know the only “Dark Souls” game I have played is Bloodborne, and though I never got really good at it, I did enjoy my time with it. So, when folks were saying Salt and Sanctuary was 2D Dark Souls (you will see A LOT of parallels), I figured I would jump in. I have not been disappointed.
Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D action role-playing game where you take control of an intrepid hero completing adventures across the countryside. Does that sound generic? Ok, I admit it. I have played the game for about 10 hours, and I am not totally certain what is going on from a story standpoint, but I think that is what I am doing. For most games, this would be a big detractor for me, but for Salt and Sanctuary, I do not seem to care. Why don’t I care? The gameplay loop is so effective.
The grind in Salt and Sanctuary is what you would expect it to be. Go out, kill enemies, get Salt, return to a Sanctuary, use the Salt to level up. While this loop is straightforward, there are enough embellishments to the system that there are always new things to learn and explore. The level-up system is a skill tree with most of the usual skills being present. As you level up you increase your proficiency for certain weapons, armor, and I assume magic (I have not explored the magic at all) in addition to your skills. Honestly though, the skill tree may be a bit too big. It is huge! However, it does make me want to start a new character and explore other ways to level-up a hero. Since I am only 10 hours in, I am not certain how much I can fill the tree with one character, but I have only made a tiny dent so far.
The Sanctuary system is even more interesting to me, even though I understand it far less. The Sanctuaries dotted around the world belong to different Creeds. In order to get full advantage of a Sanctuary, you need to take the oath of the Creed that resides in the Sanctuary. When you take the oath, you denounce the previous Creed you belonged to and lose any advantages that Creed had. It seems like certain Creeds give distinct advantages depending on how you are developing your character, but this is something I am still learning more about. I hope to continue to unpack the mysteries of the Creeds and Sanctuaries as I delve deeper into the game.
While the solid gameplay loop is what is keeping me playing, I am also appreciating the presentation. The hand-drawn style visuals along with the muted color palette emphasize the loneliness of the game. The minimalist soundtrack increases the feeling of despair while you play. Overall, the art and sound direction are completely on point.
So, will I continue to play Salt and Sanctuary? Absolutely. Should you give it a try? I think so. The game is definitely challenging, but if you pay attention to what you are doing, you can definitely learn the nuances. New areas do bring new enemies, and new things to learn, but the knowledge continues to build on itself. This game is going to take me some time to finish, and there will be a full review down the road, but so far I have been very happy with Salt and Sanctuary.
Have you played Salt and Sanctuary? What do you think? Is it too much like Dark Souls? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter!