Salt And Sanctuary - 2D Dark Souls (First Impressions)
“Is this Dark Souls!?”
After about an hour of playing this game, you will undoubtedly have had this exact same thought. Salt and Sanctuary is a game developed by Ska Studios. Many people call it a 2D Dark Souls, and for good reason!
It shares many similarities to that franchise. From bonfires to in-game currency, Salt and Sanctuary is a game deeply inspired by the Souls series, but one that sets itself apart from that series in many, many ways.
Salt and Sanctuary came out nearly a year ago, but it fell through my radar until recently. Here are my first impressions after a bit of gameplay!
SaS has a unique 2D art-style that creates a perfectly eerie atmosphere. The dark color palette and very-well-done character models make it feel gritty, even when it seems pretty basic at face value. The blood and gore in this game is (in my book) a huge plus because it really helps take the aesthetic of the game to a new, dark level.
The controls are simple to understand and configurable to your liking (I played with a controller). The combat is fast-paced and brutally difficult (even more so when you add traps to the mix).
Though I would like to see some more attack variety (there are basically only three attack types per weapon), and the rolling mechanic could use some work, it does not detract from the game very much.
The character customization is very well done for a 2D game. The skill tree is also absolutely humungous, so there’s a lot of customization room for players whol want to play, for example, a rogue or a warrior or a mage.
From my research, there is local co-op (and local PvP), but I have yet to try it. Unfortunately, there is no online co-op or PvP, though there is a “message” and “phantom” system (like in Dark Souls), which helps players traverse it's dark and morbid world.
Setting & Story:
This game has a very dark setting and it makes it obvious from the very beginning. You are a sailor that has been shipwrecked on a dangerous, mysterious island. Once you arrive, you are asked to choose between three different religions, which ultimately determine the look of your sanctuary (equivalent of a Dark Souls bonfire) where you can spend Salt (equivalent of Souls in Dark Souls) to level up! They also provide buffs that help players in different situations throughout the game.
The sound-track for SaS is very well done, though it does sometimes feel a bit like it lacks a variety of songs. The ambient sound, however, is spot on for the tone of the game, and it adds a very spooky atmosphere to all your dungeon crawling. The combat sound effects are crisp and clear, but quite repetitive.
There is no voice acting in this game either, but in my opinion, that’s nothing inherently bad. The enemies in the game also have very limited catalog of (but still well done) sounds, though the bosses are all unique (so far!).
Salt and Sanctuary has a great art-style and overall visual aesthetic. The game mechanics are fun, but not too complicated (yet). It has a fluid combat system (though the lack of attack options isn’t that great) and is as brutally difficult as the Souls-series can be. The setting and atmosphere are both superb, and although the sound in the game lacks some variety, it is still very well done!
Overall it is definitely a game I would recommend so far and well worth the money!
Check out the epic trailer!
What do you think about Salt and Sanctuary? What do you think it does well, and what do you think it could do better? Let us know in the comments below!