Salt and Sacrifice Articles RSS Feed | Salt and Sacrifice RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network GameSkinny's Best Games of 2022 Sat, 24 Dec 2022 14:56:02 -0500 Jonathan Moore

2022 was a fantastic year for games. God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, Dying Light 2, and Pokemon, among many others captured our collective attention. That's not to mention the amazing indie that release this year, as well, such as Signalis, Prodeus, and Citizen Sleeper just to name a few. Across PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation and Xbox platforms, we've collected our highest-reviewed games of 2021 into a "best of" list. 

Since we're a small staff at GameSkinny, going the traditional "staff voting route" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, as has been the case the past few years. Though it means there are more games here than on other lists, the best way we've found to highlight the best games of the year in 2022 is to include any game with a score of "8" or higher. So that's what we've done. 

The Best Games of 2022

Among Us VR

Image via Innersloth

Publisher: InnerSloth
Developer: InnerSloth
Platforms: Oculus Rift (reviewed), Meta Quest 2
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Simple is an overall theme for Among Us VR. At launch, the game lacks most of the advanced modes and options of the core game and only comes with one map. That said, when the original launched, it was just as limited in scope, and we expect regular updates in VR to make this version just as robust. Even with just the single map, this is a superb Among Us experience. Read the full review here

As Dusk Falls

Image via Xbox Game Studio

Publisher: Xbox Game Studio
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: There are so many layers that I'll be unpacking for the next several weeks as I wrap on my second playthrough. I likely won't be the only one exploring everything that As Dusk Falls has to offer. It's a stellar entry in the interactive narrative genre that will only be exceeded by what its dev team has planned next. Read the full review here

A Plague Tale Requiem

Image via Focus Entertainment

Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Asobo Studio
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC, Xbox Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: A Plague Tale: Requiem is an enthralling sequel that makes real refinements to the original. Its narrative manages to feel both utterly crushing and incredibly hopeful at the same time. And the degree of freedom in its gameplay options means there's never a dull moment. Read the full review here

Atelier Sophie 2

Image via Koei Tecmo

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Borrowing exploration elements from the Atelier entries while keeping its traditional turn-based combat system is a great way to help it stand out within its own franchise. On top of that, the battles have more depth than ever before. Sophie Neuenmuller’s new adventure is well worth it for veterans and newcomers alike. Read the full review here

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium

Image via Capcom

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium continues in the fine tradition of the original Stadium with a great collection of classic coin-op games. While these retro compilations are largely for the overly nostalgic older gamer, there’s a lot of great action to be had here, especially with friends playing in the same room. Read the full review here

Capcom Fighting Collection

Image via Capcom

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: For fighting game lovers, the Capcom Fighting Collection is a treasure trove of '90s goodness. Aside from finally being able to play the Darkstalkers series again, the inclusion of Red Earth, Cyberbots, and others makes this a thoroughly entertaining package. Read the full review here

Citizen Sleeper

Image via Fellow Traveller

Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Developer: Jump Over the Age
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), Series X, PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: With mechanics inspired by contemporary tabletop RPGs, Citizen Sleeper feels fresh, tense, and engaging throughout its 6- to 8-hour run time. Balancing your actions, resources, and story progress is a tight-rope act that's engrossing the further you get into this stellar sci-fi world. Read the full review here

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Whether you’re a returning player or you’ve had your eye on Crisis Core in the past, Square Enix has delivered again in its ongoing saga of overhauling FFVII for a modern audience. For better or worse, there are no surprises of the ilk seen in Remake, though I would have happily seen some liberties taken with the events here, even if just to tidy up the game’s finale a little. Read the full review here

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Image via Techland

Publisher: Techland
Developer: Techland
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Dying Light 2 does so much so well. You never know what you are going to get when you venture out into Villedor. Every handcrafted quest and environment tells a story, something that many other games aspire to, but few achieve. The movement is thrilling, the musical score is tremendous, and there is a bounty of good, but optional content. Read the full review here

Elden Ring

Image via Bandai Namco

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: FromSoftware
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 10/10

What we said: What FromSoftware has accomplished with Elden Ring is staggering. The culmination of more than a decade of trial, error, and success, Elden Ring raises not only the bar for the genre but for FromSoftware itself. It will send a ripple throughout the industry at large, acting as the new standard-bearer for open-world games. If there's more Elden Ring to come, count me in. Read the full review here

Evil West

Image via Focus Entertainment

Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Much like Flying Wild Hog’s flagship series Shadow Warriortheir latest release in Evil West is again an entirely over-the-top and bombastic affair designed to elicit a chuckle as much as it’s meant to appease your lizard brain with its almost non-stop action. But Evil West has done something fairly remarkable by dragging the sort of shlocky, B-tier, 360-era action games into 2022 with basically all of the quality-of-life upgrades you’d expect from a modern title. Read the full review here

F1 2022

Image via Electronic Arts

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Codemasters
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: F1 2022 is a fantastic racing game and the best Formula 1 game to date. There are some very nice improvements to the gameplay, a smattering of new tracks, and a realistic representation of the changes the sport has seen in the latest season. If you really want to get your hands on the new era of cars and feel how they drive, F1 2022 is a must-buy. Read the full review here

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: I secretly wanted a "golden route" scenario with Fire Emblem: Three Hopes, a resolution to Three Houses' dangling plot threads where maybe everyone could be happy at the end. What Three Hopes actually delivers is so much better; it's a finely crafted expansion that's fresh and familiar at the same time, all with smartly designed tactical combat that stays entertaining in spite of class similarity. Read the full review here

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Image via Bethesda

Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ghostwire Tokyo is essentially what I thought it would be, for better and for worse. It's charming but empty, ambitious but too formulaic, and it's got the most personality of any game I've played this year. I sincerely hope Tango has more Ghostwire in store, either as DLC or a sequel. Despite its issues, there's nothing else quite like it. Read the full review here

God of War: Ragnarok

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: God of War: Ragnarok is the very definition of a great game. Its scope is grand, with a polished presentation that looks and sounds spectacular. While the overarching plot is mediocre, the characters, anchored by some of the best acting performances of the generation, stand out for their depth, development, and empathy. The action is exquisite, further honing a winning combat formula while adding some refreshing variety. Read the full review here

Gotham Knights

Image via Warner Bros. 

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: WB Games Montreal
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC, Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Gotham Knights is a surprising game. On the surface, it looks like a lesser knockoff of the Batman games that came before, but underneath that rough exterior is a well-crafted action RPG with outstanding co-op, engaging characters, and a story worth taking time to enjoy. Read the full review here

Gran Turismo 7

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Gran Turismo 7 strikes the perfect balance between accessibility and realism in a way that caters to casual players and veterans. It's a gorgeous racing game with a surprisingly addictive gameplay loop thanks to the new Café and Menu Books systems. While some modes are certainly not as strong as others, Gran Turismo 7 checks almost all the boxes of what a driving simulator should be. Read the full review here

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Image via Focus Entertainment

Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Blackbird Interactive
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Hardspace: Shipbreaker is an enjoyable physics-based puzzle game with something for everyone. The surgical feel of dismantling ships, the lore, and the mix of beautiful graphics and folksy soundtrack lends itself to an enjoyable time. The campaign story is enjoyable and the cast of characters are relatable if a bit stereotypical. With its 1.0 launch, now is the perfect time to suit up. Read the full review here

Hard West 2

Image via Good Shepherd Entertainment

Publisher: Ice Code Games
Developer: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: 2022 is unexpectedly shaping up to be the year of the tactics game. Despite enjoying the preview, I didn't expect Hard West 2 to grab me quite as much as Triangle Strategy or the likes of Tactics Ogre, which is itself getting a remake later this year. However, if you're a fan of strategy at all, it absolutely deserves your attention. Read the full review here

Horizon Forbidden West

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Guerilla Games
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: I hoped Horizon Forbidden West would shatter expectations and take the series to the boldest new heights. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the sequel, but it’s also impossible to ignore there’s so much material to warrant doing far more than just making prettier, bigger worlds with more breathtaking set pieces. Forbidden West is a very good game. It could just be even better. Read the full review here


Image via The Arcade Crew

Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Series X, PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Infernax is largely exactly what you'd think at first glance. It's very retro and challenging with simplistic 8-bit graphics and gameplay. Where it excels is taking those old-school constraints and expanding on them to create a gory adventure that feels at once totally familiar but with enough depth to still be interesting and worthwhile all on its own. Read the full review here

Kaiju Wars

Image via Foolish Mortals

Publisher: Foolish Mortals
Developer: Foolish Mortals, Michael Long
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While Kaiju Wars carries a feeling of familiarity, there’s enough here for it to stand apart from others in the genre. With good pacing, tactical play, and pop-culture moments, there’s plenty of fun to be had with the main campaign ... Add to that the near limitless amount of player-generated content, and Kaiju Wars is a game that emulates its namesake — it's something you can keep coming back to again and again. Read the full review here

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Overall, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is exactly the sequel we'd expect. Despite the move to 3D, the gameplay is instantly familiar. While nothing here is anything close to groundbreaking or even innovative, it is a comfortable, casual, all-ages adventure worth taking. Read the full review here

LEGO Bricktales

Image via Thunderful

Publisher: Thunderful
Developer: Clockstone Software
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: LEGO Bricktales is a delightful surprise, even with its fiddly controls. Pairing puzzles with LEGOs seems like such a natural thing to do; I'm surprised it took this long to see it happen. And I sincerely hope it's not the last such puzzle game from Thunderful. Read the full review here

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

Image via Ubisoft

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: This creative approach to the tactics genre finally gives the series an identity of its own. It won't be winning any awards for its writing, but Sparks of Hope still manages to be a blast at nearly every turn. Merging tactics, RPG elements, and platforming, the Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is one of the best Mario spin-offs on the Switch. Read the full review here

Marvel's Midnight Suns

Image via 2K

Publisher: 2K
Developer: Firaxis
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Series X, PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: It's safe to say Marvel fans who are the slightest bit interested in Midnight Suns should check it out. The writing doesn't work for me more often than not, but if you're just looking to spend some time hanging out with Captain Marvel or Blade while you start a book club or go fishing, then you'll be delighted to find out just how much of that sort of thing is packed into the game. Read the full review here

Metal: Hellsinger

Image via Funcom

Publisher: Funcom
Developer: The Outsiders
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 9/10

What we said: All in all, Metal: Hellsinger is a short, sweet, and immensely enjoyable experience worth every second of your time. It more than earns its purchase price. I cannot wait to see what the team at The Outsiders makes next because if this outing is anything to go by, they have one Hell of a future ahead of them. Read the full review here

MLB The Show 22

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony San Diego
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ultimately, MLB The Show 22 is a powerhouse like most entries in the series, but it falls victim to the sports-game pitfall of yearly editions: it just doesn't add enough new features. Most long-time fans may not mind that, though if you're looking for an upgrade, this is just another season, albeit a good one. Read the full review here

Nobody Saves the World

Image via Drinkbox Studios

Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Nobody Saves the World is an excellent action RPG with unique progression and class systems. If you come to RPGs for their gameplay rather than their characters or stories, you’re going to be well-served here. Read the full review here

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Gamefreak
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: I might have wanted more from Pokemon Legends Arceus, and it definitely deserves more, but I’m so happy with what I got. At last, Game Freak took the imaginative, fascinating world it built all those years ago and decided to build on what makes it special — the sense of wonder and, more importantly, the Pokemon themselves. Read the full review here


Image via Humble Games

Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: Bounding Box Software
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: [Prodeus is] still one of the better action games I've played this year, and I can see myself loading it up again whenever I'm in the mood for some stylized ultraviolence. Whatever issues I have with Prodeus become as irrelevant as its storyline whenever I liberate a demon's entire upper half with one four-barreled shotgun blast. Read the full review here

Rogue Legacy 2

Image via Cellar Door Games

Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Ultimately, anyone who played and enjoyed the original Rogue Legacy is going to love this sequel just as much if not more. Everything that made the first game so great is here, though it is all bigger and better than ever before. With a host of new classes, traits, and abilities along with some welcome changes to gameplay mechanics, Rogue Legacy 2 is everything you'd want in a sequel and one of the best roguelikes available. Read the full review here

Salt and Sacrifice

Image via Ska Studios

Publisher: Ska Studios
Developer: Ska Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Salt and Sacrifice is a labor of love for its genre, one that will scratch any veteran’s itch for more mysterious worlds to explore. It never reaches the heights of the best Souls-likes but never sinks to the lows of those that attempt and fail to work within the framework. Read the full review here


Image via Santa Ragione

Publisher: Santa Ragione
Developer: Santa Ragione
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Saturnalia uses horror in smart ways to explore social topics – the town’s isolation, resistance to change and to outsiders, and the ugly social beliefs that those things inform. Those facets combine perfectly to make a game that isn’t just horrifying because of the monsters that stalk us in the night. It’s horrifying because of the monsters we make, too – and the things we’re capable of becoming. Read the full review here

Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem

Image via Devolver Digital

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Croteam
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Croteam has teamed up with truly passionate Serious Sam fans to make their vision for the game a reality, and it shows. Siberian Mayhem’s new weapons, enemies, and gameplay variations keep the experience fresh while sticking to the roots of what makes Serious Sam so great: ruthless alien-killing action with plenty of puns along the way. Read the full review here


Image via Humble Games

Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: rose-engine
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While it’d be remiss of me to discuss some of the specifics that truly elevate Signalis, particularly in terms of the story and its experimental delivery, you can believe that developers rose-engine have made good on their promise. They’ve delivered a top-tier game that marries cosmic horror with altogether more grounded points of conflict. Signalis is a vital experience for anyone who fondly remembers being terrified of vague pixel arrangements of early survival horror games. Read the full review here

Sonic Frontiers

Image via SEGA

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5, Xbox One, Series X, PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Always fast and sometimes furious, Sonic Frontiers gives me a sense of wonder I haven't had with the 3D portion of the franchise in a decade, and it does so with the sort of flair I want from Sonic Team. It's not perfect, but it is a huge spin dash in the right direction for the Blue Blur. The next game needs to build on what Sonic Team has put together here because this is a formula with long legs. Read the full review here

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash

Image via SNK

Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash was a game I loved dearly at one time and have had a wonderful time coming back to in 2022. Fans of both SNK and Capcom can find plenty of enjoyment here, whether in the gameplay itself or just in the card art — just don't expect the bells and whistles one might expect from a modern CCG video game. Read the full review here

Splatoon 3

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Splatoon 3 is the most polished version of the concept yet. While it doesn't break any new ground, Splatoon 3 is still a unique joy within the shooter genre. There are the typical Nintendo design quirks built into the online experience, but they don't spoil the thrilling combat loop at the game's heart. More approachable than ever, Splatoon 3 is exhilarating family-friendly mayhem for competitive and co-op gamers alike. Read the full review here

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

Image via Aspyr

Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: Aspyr
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II is still an amazing game and compelling sequel to one of the best love letters to the fandom. Pushing 20 years old, it is still a contender when it comes to story, mechanics, and audio, though the visuals are slightly dated. The Nintendo Switch port has some issues to be smoothed out yet, but they aren’t game-breaking and aren’t nearly as bad as some of the issues the original game shipped with. Read the full review here

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Team Ninja
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an endearing action RPG that takes careful steps with its reappropriation of traditional Final Fantasy systems. The translation to Team Ninja’s brand of fast-paced combat feels amazing when it’s firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, it’s let down by technical issues and a loot system that actively pushes you away from messing around with its jobs in the way that it so desperately wants. Read the full review here


Image via Annapurna Interactive

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: BlueTwelve Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Stray takes about five to six hours to finish, but it makes use of that short run time to tell a touching story between a cat and a robot drone. Its controls feel great and impactful, whether you're jumping or running. There’s so much personality to the cat, too: being able to meow on command and do cat things like knocking over items and scratching on walls is a nice touch. Stray is a tightly focused journey that is worth experiencing at least once. Read the full review here

Tactics Ogre: Reborn

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a thoughtful re-release of a classic that adds meaningful changes to make the experience more approachable in relation to previous installments. Those changes, by and large, are a good thing, but the complexity of Tactics Ogre isn't lost in the process. Diehard fans will likely be happy to hear that, but it would have been nice to see Tactics Ogre: Reborn strive to be even more accessible for newcomers. Read the full review here

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Imgae via DotEmu

Publisher: DotEmu
Developer: Tribute Games
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge works so perfectly because it’s clear the developers not only love the source material, but understand intrinsically how to recreate that beloved sense of nostalgia in a way that feels both authentic and evolved. This really does come across as a game that could have actually existed in a 1990-era arcade... If you have a soft spot for classic arcade brawlers of the 80s and 90s, Shredder’s Revenge is a damn near perfect homage and sequel to one of the best of the era. It doesn't get much better than this. Read the full review here


Image via Humble Games

Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: Crema
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Temtem may play a lot like Pokemon on the surface, but a suite of tweaks to the battle system, exciting visual design, and heavy emphasis on PvP more than make up for the similarities with it and other monster catchers. While a deeper story would certainly be welcome, Temtem is a unique and rewarding experience for those with the patience to master its intricacies. Read the full review here

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: I feel like The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story may have been better paced as an actual movie than a game given that the interactive elements bogged down the experience a bit. Even so, everything else about the title shines. The century spanning story is exceptionally engaging and I found myself wanting to continue on to the next chapter to see what happened next. It also helps immensely that the actors bring stellar performances to each case. Read the full review here

The DioField Chronicle

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The DioField Chronicle has some fantastic ideas, even if some of them feel a bit underbaked. This could be the foundation of something ambitious for Square Enix, and if another game could build upon the combat system and narrative style found here, it could really turn into something special ... The DioField Chronicle is easily one of the most unique games of the year and a breath of fresh air in the JRPG genre, even for its problems. Read the full review here

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero

Image via NISA

Publisher: NISA
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Trails from Zero might be missing a few features it could, and maybe even should, have had, but if you've never played it before, don't let that hold you back from giving it a try. This decade-old RPG lost none of its potency as time wore on and remains an essential experience. In short, Zero is a remarkable feat of RPG storytelling and worldbuilding; even 12 years after its original release, little else like it exists. Read the full review here

The Quarry

Image via 2K

Publisher: 2K
Developer: Supermassive Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The Quarry isn't exactly the scariest game out there, but horror game aficionados will find plenty to enjoy here thanks to its high-stakes gameplay and fantastic performances from its all-star cast. If that doesn't sound like your type of game, it becomes difficult to justify paying full price for a 10-hour experience. The game certainly doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, but still manages to provide players with a unique and rich interactive experience on par with that of Until DawnRead the full review here


Image via Team17

Publisher: Team17
Developer: OverBorder Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Thymesia is one of the best Souls-likes not to come from FromSoftware, full stop. It also stands firmly on its inspirations while finding its own character from within them. It's not perfect, with some of the most valuable aspects (story and level design) being some of its weakest points, but between its stellar boss battles and well-realized combat, there's a lot to love here. Read the full review here

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

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Publisher: 2K
Developer: Gearbox
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 9/10

What we said: The game's similarities to Borderlands 3 make it an easy sell for longtime fans of the series who already know what to expect from these looter shooters. Still, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands puts its own D&D twist on things, which makes it a unique experience that can draw in new players thanks to its quirks and wacky gameplay. With an excellent loot system and stellar gunplay, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is easily one of the most addictive and satisfying FPS games in recent memory. Read the full review here

Triangle Strategy

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Triangle Strategy has in abundance the three things any tactics game needs to succeed: story, systems, and style. Whatever its shortcomings in character development and pacing in the first half, they're easy to overlook. This is easily one of the smartest and most interesting tactics games to release in years, and one I'll be playing for a long time to come. Read the full review here


Image via Finji

Publisher: Finji
Developer: Tunic Team
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: TUNIC brings together a gorgeous art style, phenomenal gameplay, and old-school game design baked directly into the way you discover the world, delivering one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in years. Read the full review here

Two Point Campus

Image via SEGA

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Two Point Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Somehow, Two Point Campus manages to find a great middle ground between easy-to-pick-up gameplay and deep management mechanics. There’s an undeniable, joyful glee in spending hours meticulously placing items, seeing it turn into a massive well-oiled university. As stressful as you might think it’d be to run a school, Two Point Campus is nothing but fun. Read the full review here

Vampire the Masquerade: Swansong

Image via Nacon

Publisher: Nacon
Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While Swansong shares one of Earthblood's big flaws — both games throw you straight into the deep end of an established and complex setting, which makes them thoroughly inaccessible to newcomers — it's a much more solid project. Its horror is subtle, its puzzles are mostly difficult but fair, and it's got a surprising amount of replayability. Read the full review here

Warhammer 40K: Darktide

Publisher: Fatshark
Developer: Fatshark
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Darktide is a fantastic live service co-op FPS that is almost worth every penny. Almost. I love it to death, and it's ramping up to be one of my most played games of 2022, but it's not perfect. It will surely become one of the titans of the genre just like Vermintide and its sequel, but it's got a long way to go. Read the full review here

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Monolith Soft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: A recommendation for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 comes pretty easily if you're a fan of previous Xenoblade games or just a fan of JRPGs in general. For others, it's tougher due to its complex mechanics and slow early pacing. Regardless, though there are rough edges, XC3 makes up for it thanks to areas of absolute brilliance, and it's a game well worth experiencing. Read the full review here

That's it for our list of the best, highest-scored games of 2022. What were your favorite games? Let us know in the comments below! 

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Respec Fri, 20 May 2022 09:20:13 -0400 John Schutt

It can take a bit to figure out how to respec in Salt and Sacrifice, but luckily it is possible to do so and change out your mis-spent points. It takes a different course from typical systems, much like many of the mechanics found in the game.

How to Respec in Salt and Sacrifice

There is no way to completely respec your character all at once in Salt and Sacrifice. Instead, you need a limited consumable called Gray Starstone. You get Gray Starstone once every few times you level up.

Like Black Starstone, the material you use to level, it has a chance to drop from various mini-boss enemies in the world. Specific mini-bosses seem to drop either Gray or Black, but not both, and some don’t respawn when killed.

With Gray Starstone, head to the level-up statue in Pardoner’s Vale and select the node on the Tree of Skill you want to refund. Hold down the button to complete the refund, which provides a Black Starstone and opens up the ability to activate any node connected to the nearest active nodes.

Gray Starstone awards every few levels, so by level 30, you’ll have between six and eight, which can open up plenty of new avenues to change your build. There’s no way to get Gray Starstone back once used, so if you find yourself unsatisfied with your new build choices, you’ll be out of luck.

We don’t recommend using too much Gray Starstone on your first playthrough. The material is best used to optimize a build or retrace steps early in a character’s life.

If you try to rebuild a high-level character completely, especially when you don’t yet know what you want to do with them, you risk tanking your whole setup. This is especially true if you don’t have the upgrade or crafting materials to use whatever new path you’ve taken.

If you want to use Gray Starstone to respec on your first character, use them sparingly and only to adjust your direction on the Tree of Skill. Take some time at the end of the playthrough to think about what your next character will look like, provided you want to go through again.

You can respec more freely when you have a direction for a build. Your first character is bound to be a mishmash of skills and equipment, exactly how it should be.

That’s about everything you need to know about how to respec in Salt and Sacrifice. Use the ability sparingly, as once you select a starting character, your early-game experience is decided. Use our best weapons tier list to guide what direction you can take. Our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub goes into detail about plenty more.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Craft, Get More Crafting Options, and Farm Materials Thu, 19 May 2022 11:18:09 -0400 John Schutt

We covered crafting on the go for basic ranged ammo in Salt and Sacrifice, but the meat of the crafting system happens after you've defeated Mages. Every Mage and the mobs they spawn drop crafting materials keyed to the element of the Mage themselves.

We discussed the topic briefly in our upgrading weapons and armor guide. Much of that information transfers to this topic. Here's how to craft all the various elemental gear in Salt and Sacrifice.

How to Craft in Salt and Sacrifice

To start crafting, kill at least one named Mage. Your first is likely to be the Pyromancer, and there are four to six Mage types per zone. You'll receive enough crafting materials in an area for three or four pieces of gear.

Once you have what you need, head back to Pardoner's Vale, level up, then head to the right until you reach the red firepit. You'll see the "Craft Equipment" prompt come up. Select it to continue.

As with other crafting systems in most any other game, you'll see the items you need (as well as those you already have) when you hover over items in this menu. When you have the materials you need, press the requisite button shown at the bottom of the menu (X on PlayStation, A on Xbox, etc.). 

How to Get More Crafting Options

The first time you open the crafting menu, there won't be too many options. You'll have access to just two weapons, an armor set, rings, decorative items, and talismans.

Every Mage you kill increases your gear type selection by one, and you'll be swimming in equipment options by only the second zone. Progressing through Salt and Sacrifice unlocks higher and higher tier armor from the stronger Mages you'll encounter. You'll want to upgrade the lower-tier gear for survivability, but even heavily upgraded early-game equipment is outclassed once you go far enough.

If you want everything from a given Mage, you'll either need to be incredibly lucky during their initial hunt, or you'll need to farm them as world bosses or during Fated Hunts.

How to Farm Crafting Materials

World mages are easier to deal with but more challenging to target farm. They're also harder to track, as they don't leave behind a trail. They don't tend to move far from their last location once you deal enough damage to trigger a teleport, but you will need to spend time finding the Mage you're looking for, as they spawn randomly throughout the zone.

World Mages don't ever receive a proper health bar, though they don't have any less HP. The main difference between their initial fight and the farm is your gear and level. As you'll be better equipped and more powerful when you start farming bosses, they'll inevitably become easier to deal with.

Fated Hunts are a more straightforward path to target farming the materials you want, though there won't be as many other Mages on the map to draw your target's aggression. You'll be doing the lion's share of the work. Still, if you need a few particular pieces of material and don't want to deal with the randomness of a standard zone, Fated Hunts are the best bet.

Now you know everything you need to know about crafting in Salt and Sacrifice. Check out our best weapons list for a good idea of what to use when and our article on Runic Arts, so you've got an idea of what your weapon is capable of. Our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub has more to learn as well.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Get the Simple Key and Hideout Key to Unlock Treacher's Grotto Thu, 19 May 2022 11:06:23 -0400 John Schutt

To reach Treacher's Grotto, one of the hidden areas in Salt and Sacrifice, you must get both the Simple Key and the Hideout Key. Thankfully, finding both keys and accessing the Grotto is pretty straightforward, and the Simple Key is needed to find the latter.

How to Get the Simple Key

To get the Simple Key, make your way to Ashbourne Village proper. Go to the right of the initial area spawn point. Head into the town until you enter a building and the Archridge District area prompt appears.

Make your way through the tower until you reach a doorway on the right; it's the first one you'll see heading to the right. Exit into the open air and climb the platforms at the other end of the area.

You should see a grappling hook point leading to the left between some wooden platforms. Take it and open the treasure chest to get the Simple Key.

How to Get the Hideout Key

Continue making your way up the level. You'll eventually need to wall jump to reach the next area. Go up until you can't anymore and head to the left until you reach a chasm with a grapple point.

Use it and the one beyond it across the gap. Keep going left until you see a set of platforms leading up. Jump through them and keep going left until you reach a doorway. Beyond it is a large chest. Open it to get the Hideout Key.

How to Reach Treacher's Grotto

Key in hand, return to the Obelisk just outside of Ashbourne Village. Instead of going into the village, take the lower path into Craterstone Mines. Go to the right until you reach a glowing door. You need to kill a total of 3 named Mages to open it; if it's red, kill more and return. Only the initial Mage hunt boss fights count as named Mages. 

Head down into the cavern. Continue descending until you pass a green knight and a pit with two black knights. Continue past them and to their left until you reach a door. Use the Hideout Key here.

There will be a shifty-looking NPC in the room beyond. Speak to them and answer "Yes" when prompted.

Return to Pardoner's Vale and head to the bottom level, past the portal. In the cave with the multiple drop-down platforms, you'll see the previously closed door is now open. Go through it to reach Treacher's Grotto.

Follow the path past the second portal stone and grapple across to meet the shifty NPC again, who says his name is Merchant Raury, vendor for the Blueheart Runner covenant.

That's everything you need to know about the Simple Key, Hideout Key, and how to get into Treacher's Grotto in Salt and Sacrifice. We've covered a few other topics, including best starting classes, runic arts, and best weapons. Our guides hub has even more.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Upgrade Weapons and Armor Sun, 15 May 2022 18:27:28 -0400 John Schutt

When you start a new character in Salt and Sacrifice, you come equipped with a basic set of weapons and armor, either at Tier 1 or Tier 0. Hunting Mages opens up the ability to craft armor based on their powers and element back at Pardoner’s Vale. You’ll want to take time to upgrade your gear — it’s only mediocre when you first find or create it.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about upgrading your weapons and armor in Salt and Sacrifice, including where to find the Artifcat vendor, so you can take out every mage and boss you find.

How to Upgrade Weapons and Armor in Salt and Sacrifice

There are three ways to find new gear — as drops, treasure, or crafted Mage equipment — and everything you equip can be upgraded or altered in some way, from your weapons and armor to your rings, amulets, and artifacts.

Your armaments are the simplest to upgrade. Once you’ve either retrieved or crafted them, head to the equipment enhancement station up from and to the left of the crafting table.

You’ll spend one of six types of Ashpyr to upgrade weapons and armor based on the gear’s elemental affinity.

  • Ashpyr: Non-elemental physical and other standard gear.
  • Blazepyr: Fire-elemental gear.
  • Frospyr: Cold-elemental gear.
  • Mosspyr: Poison-elemental gear.
  • Goldenpyr: Light-elemental gear.
  • Voidepyr: Dark-elemental gear.

There are five levels of Pyrstone items:

  • Single Pyrstone.
  • Twinpyr.
  • Pyrstone Trio.
  • Pyrstone Cluster.
  • Pyrstone Brick.

Each level except for the Pyrstone Brick costs six units to upgrade to the next level, starting with a cost of one mat, then two, and finally three.

You’ll find these various crafting materials out in the wild, but your primary source will be hunting Mages and killing elementally aligned bosses. Most Mages in Salt and Sacrifice have two elemental affinities: one primary and one secondary.

The gear you craft from the materials they drop will be their primary element, but they can drop both kinds of elemental crafting materials, as can the mobs they spawn.

What elemental affinity a boss has is usually straightforward. A Pyromancer is purely Fire, whereas an Electromancer is Light/Fire. Others take a little stretching, like the Neuromancer, which is Poison/Light. You’ll learn the affinities based on the materials each Mage drops. The more common mats are the primary element, the rarer mats are the secondary.

How to Find the Artifact Vendor

Take everything back to Pardoner’s Vale and head to the right of the spawn point. The crafting station is the firepit near the NPC. Up the stairs to his left is the enhancing station where you apply Ashpyr.

You’ll come across a green-robed and behatted NPC in your journey through Ashbourne Village. He’s just past the gatehouse to the right of the spawn point, up on a platform reachable via the grappling hook.

After you speak to him, he’ll return to Pardoner’s Vale between the spawn point and before you reach the crafting station. He allows you to upgrade or break down the Artifacts you find on your adventures.

There are four choices of importance at this vendor:

  • Purge Artifacts: Destroy an artifact to release a Memory material.
  • Combine Memories: Spend multiple lower-tier Memory items for a single higher-tier one.
  • Bolster Artifacts: Spend Memories to randomly reroll and increase the effectiveness of a single Artifact.
  • Split Pyrstone: Dismantle higher-grade Pyrstone into multiple lower-grade stones.

Upgrading your Artifacts will remove all previous effects, but the new ones will always be of a higher power. They might not be immediately useful effects, forcing you to reroll, but the numbers will be higher. Effects are based on the rarity of the Artifact, with Legendaries providing the most and strongest buffs.

Artifacts are a great supplement to any build, and while they’re not all created equal, neither are the best weapons in the game compared to the starting class ones. With that, you have all the info you need to upgrade your weapons, armor, and other gear in Salt and Sacrifice. You’re likely to come across the Artifact vendor on your route to the co-op NPC, who gives you the Golden Candle. Head over to our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub for info on those topics and more.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Skip Cutscenes Sun, 15 May 2022 18:14:06 -0400 John Schutt

Traditional Souls-likes have a smattering of cutscenes to introduce bosses and important story moments, but they rarely do more than that. Salt and Sacrifice only has a few moments where you can’t control your character.

It’s helpful to watch these the first time to learn about the story, world, and character backgrounds, but if you go through the game a second, third, or fourth time, skipping these cutscenes will get you into the action much more quickly.

How to Skip Cutscenes in Salt and Sacrifice

The opening cutscene of Salt and Sacrifice explains the basics about why your character hunts Mages, and once it’s over, you get a short movement and mechanics tutorial. Finally, there’s a probably-unwinnable boss fight, leading to the game proper. Skipping the opening cutscene skips the entire tutorial section, including the fight.

Skipping is easy: hold down the B or Circle button on controller and C on keyboard. A small prompt will appear at the bottom-left of your screen with a progress bar. Fill the bar all the way, and you skip the cutscene. This is the case for almost any longer cutscene in the game, as well.

Be aware that if you reach the point in the opening sequence where pink lightning begins to fall around your character, you can no longer skip the tutorial section. You cannot skip boss introduction scenes, no matter how many times you die against them.

Like sprinting or crafting on the go, skipping cutscenes in Salt and Sacrifice is more obtuse than it should be. The same could be said for equipping higher-tier weapons and armor and the starting crimes you choose as part of character creation. Look to our guides hub for more on the game.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Parry Sun, 15 May 2022 18:04:52 -0400 John Schutt

Parrying is a staple mechanic in Souls-likes, and Salt and Sacrifice keep the tradition alive, providing the ability to parry with any weapon capable of guarding. However, successful parries in this game function a little differently than other titles in the genre. We’ll cover it all right here.

How to Parry in Salt and Sacrifice

Salt and Sacrifice’s 2D aesthetic makes parrying both easier and harder, as enemies don’t take up as much space on the screen, and their animations can only be so complex. The parry window is thus a little bit wider to compensate. It’s not easy but is entirely doable.

To parry in Salt and Sacrificepress the Guard button just before the attack makes contact. Doing so negates damage entirely rather than reducing it by a percentage. Successful parries also heavily reduce the stamina cost of blocking an attack. Even with a good shield, you can use up to a third of your stamina bar tanking stronger attacks.

Know that every attack that can be parried in Salt and Sacrifice has a different window where the parry connects. If you miss the timing, you’ll still guard the attack, but you’ll take the full stamina damage and health damage.

If your parry succeeds enough times, you’ll put the enemy off balance, opening them up for a critical attack or at least a few free hits. The same can be done by breaking an enemy’s guard if they have one — Press B or Circle for the critical hit.

Most boss enemies, especially Mages, can’t be parried, but their attacks can be perfect blocked. The effect is the same and is a solid alternative to dodge rolling through their attacks. You will need to be extra mindful of your stamina consumption against bosses, as their attacks damage both health and stamina. If your green bar is empty, it will take a second or two to start refilling, leaving you vulnerable for at least a single hit.

As we discussed in our review of Salt and Sacrifice, getting hit even once can lead to a series of hits, especially if you get launched into the air. Higher tier armor and weapons offer some solution; with them equipped, you’ll deal much more damage but take less as well. Unless you’ve leveled up far beyond the expected level for an area, every boss and mob will have at least a few chances to kill you.

Knowing how to parry is just another defense against the enemies standing in your way. Check out our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub for tips on how to survive.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Play Co-Op Multiplayer Sun, 15 May 2022 17:59:31 -0400 John Schutt

If you’re having trouble with some of the challenges in Salt and Sacrifice, calling in aid from friends or other players is a great way to alleviate some of the stress. Co-op multiplayer follows the same basic rules as most Souls-likes, with a few caveats. There are also a few progression requirements before you can join up with random players looking to play together.

We’ll cover all the details about co-op multiplayer in Salt and Sacrifice in this guide.

How to Play Co-Op in Salt and Sacrifice

The easiest way to start co-op is to use the cooperation board in Pardoner’s Vale. You’ll find it to the right of the portal leading to the various levels. Open the menu when prompted, and you’ll have the choice to either host a session by setting a password with runes or join a host using their password.

This method of co-op will be almost exclusively between yourself and friends, other players in a community Discord, or another get-together platform. Things are a little more complicated to join a random host’s game or host one yourself.

How to Get the Golden Candle

To join random hosts, you’ll need an item called the Golden Candle. Head down toward the grappling hook, through Greymoss Mire. Rather than going to the bottom, take the doorway on a platform about halfway down. You'll wind up on a small precipice with a treasure chest. Open it for the Golden Candle.

How to Get the Pale Candle

To host a game yourself, you'll need the Pale Candle. Make your way through Ashbourne Village proper, up through Craterstone Mine, and back left until you reach the gatehouse to the right of the initial spawn point.

Inside the gatehouse is a lever that opens the one-way door. Just to the right of it is a set of platforms leading down.

Drop through them and continue down. Go to the left until you reach a dead end with grappling points going further left across a gap. There will be a treasure chest just above you at this point.

Grapple across the chasm and talk to the NPC you meet there. Exhaust their dialog, and they’ll say they’re returning to Pardoner’s Vale, where they’ll want to see you.

Return to Pardoner’s Vale at your convenience and make your way to its lowest level. Don’t go all the way to the portal. Instead, the door at the far left of the lowest level should now be open. Go inside and speak to the NPC again.

They’ll give you the Pale Candle item to host for random cooperators. Be aware you need to be “Guiltless” to host, meaning you must use a Guiltless Shard and have a full health bar.

Neither the Golden Candle nor the Pale Candle requires a runic password. The game will search for you, but there are a few limitations.

You must be searching in the same world as other players, so there’s no game-wide matchmaking from Pardoner’s Vale. You also must have the same upgrades as the player you want to cooperate with, so you must both have the grappling hook and whatever other items you’ve found to that point.

If you meet all those requirements, you should match up with another player and take on whatever challenges await you.

Beyond all that, there doesn’t seem to be a level limitation on co-op multiplayer in Salt and Sacrifice, so if you’ve leveled up far more than your cooperator, you’re likely to make their experience much easier, as will having some of the best weapons in the game. Check out our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub for more.

Salt and Sacrifice: Best Weapons Tier List Guide Fri, 13 May 2022 14:14:26 -0400 Serhii Patskan

We're going to showcase some of the best weapons in the 150 weapon array found in Salt and Sacrifice. Many of them are imbued with the power of runic arts, but don't neglect those that don't have them either, as they can be useful in other situations.

Through this guide we'll only look at the best weapons in Salt and Sacrifice. Most of them can be crafted, and if not, then it will be indicated how you can get them. Also, many of them do have runic arts with short descriptions of their effects provided.

Salt and Sacrifice: S-Tier Weapons

Codex Maul

  • Type: Greathammer
  • Damage: 60.7 Light, Dark: 100%
  • Scaling: Str: E \ Con: E

The most powerful melee weapon in Salt and Sacrifice is Codex Maul greathammer, which has two Focus-based runic arts: Glyph Vortex and Glyph Rain.

Glyph Vortex summons runic projectiles that damage enemies randomly, while Glyph Rain does what it says, and showers enemies with even more glyphs.

Such physical power and runic abilities make it the best weapon choice for any hybrid strength build.

Codex Maul crafting recipe

  • 1x Storied Heart
  • 2x Tattoed Finger
  • 5x Runic Tongue

Dragon's Maw

  • Type: Twohander
  • Damage: 48.8 Fire, Poison: 100%
  • Scaling: Str: D \ Arc: E

Draconic weapons and armor sets are some of the strongest in the game.  Dragon's Maw, which is imbued with the Rage-based runic art, is the best weapon representative of that class.

Its Draconic Sharpness art allows you to boost all of your dragon magic, which is a must for any draconic build.

Dragon's Maw crafting recipe

  • 1x Scaly Heart
  • 2x Drake's Claw
  • 5x Ember Scale

Force Greatblade

  • Type: Greatblade
  • Damage: 47.9 Physical, Light: 100%
  • Scaling: Str: B \ Arc: E

A powerful melee weapon that can effectively block 85% of damage and summon a raging AoE is something one should never ignore. For that very reason, it's among this best weapons tier list.

Force Greatblade has all that due to its amazing Blast Vortex runic art, which is costly but highly effective.

Force Greatblade crafting recipe

  • 1x Quivering Heart
  • 3x Glowing Flesh
  • 5x Kinetic Bone

A-Tier Weapons

Inphyrean Scythe

  • Type: Sickle
  • Damage: 32.7 Fire, Dark: 100%
  • Scaling: Str: E \ Dex: E \ Arc: E

Inphyrean weapons are infamous for their ability to project immense power, and their runic arts are amongst the most unforgivable in Salt and Sacrifice.

What puts this among the best weapons is this sickle is imbued with Inphyrean Barbs, a forbidden glyph art, which summons a swarm of darts that deal damage to all enemies.

Inphyrean Scythe crafting recipe

  • 1x Infernal Heart
  • 2x Jagged Sternum
  • 5x Runic Knuckle

Stave of Force

  • Type: Stave
  • Damage: 29 Physical, Light: 100%
  • Scaling: Arc: E

Although pure Arcana weapons don't have huge physical damage output, this lacking is well compensated by the presence of some amazing runic arts.

This staff has three arts: Force Scar, Force Cross, and Force Rift. The first one summons a targeted projectile, the second one forces your enemies to slam the ground, and the last one summons a powerful AoE.

Stave of Force crafting recipe

  • 1x Quivering Heart
  • 2x Glowing Flesh
  • 5x Kinetic Bone

Dragon's Bite

  • Type: Rapier
  • Damage: 28.4 Fire, Poison: 100%
  • Scaling: Dex: E \ Arc: E

Dexterity weapons have a similar application, and also posses a great number of runic arts. But what makes Dragon's Bite stand out as one of the best weapons is its allegiance to the draconic forces.

Dragon's Bite has the following runic arts: Draconic Sharpness, Dragon's Blessing, and Dragon's Wrath.

The first one boosts your dragon magic, the second one boosts your physical damage and resistances, and the last one causes a massive explosion, which can easily destroy an entire horde of hostile creatures.

Dragon's Bite crafting recipe

  • 1x Scaly Heart
  • 2x Drak's Claw
  • 5x Ember Scale

Sharpest Force

  • Type: Highblade
  • Damage: 26.8 Physical, Light: 100%
  • Scaling: Dex: E

The best part about any highblade weapon in general is that it has a wider and longer blade, which can be very helpful when dealing with a swarm of enemies.

Sharpest Force is on this best weapons tier list because it also has the Purest Force runic art, which boosts your weapon's force energy, pushing its damage output to a max.

Sharpest Force crafting recipe

  • 1x Quivering Heart
  • 2x Glowing Flesh
  • 5x Kinetic Bone

B-Tier Weapons

Twinvoid Bo

  • Type: Halfspear
  • Damage: 25.5, Dark: 100%
  • Scaling: Dex: E \ Arc: D

Dark weapons are not as strong as draconic or inphyrean ones, but there is a field of application where dark weapons can really do a good job.

This short spear is among the best weapons because it has decent damage, which can also get a serious boost from its runic arts. Purest Dark art does exactly that and boosts your weapon's dark energy, while Motes of Void can be used to deal with several enemies at once by shooting dark projectiles.

Twinvoid Bo crafting recipe

  • 1x Void Heart
  • 2x Creeping Claw
  • 5x Sunken Eye

Glyphstone Hammer

  • Type: Bludgeon
  • Damage: 19.0 Light, Dark: 100%
  • Scaling: Str: S \ Con: D

Glyphstone Hammer is a younger brother of Codex Maul. It's not as powerful, and its runes aren't as impressive, but if you prefer smaller weapons, then this would be the next best hammer for your strength build.

Its two runic arts are Glyph Barrage, which shoots a barrage of bright glyphs at enemies, and Glyph Vortex, which encircles enemies with similar glyphs, attacking all at once.

Glyphstone Hammer crafting recipe

  • 1x Storied Heart
  • 2x Tattooed Finger
  • 5x Runic Tongue

Vanguard of Dawn

  • Type: Vanguard
  • Damage: 11, Fire: 50%
  • Scaling: Str: S \ Con: D

This is the only type of weapon that guarantees 100% of incoming damage blocked. Of course, it's not very good when it comes to offensive purposes, but this is one of the best weapon choices in the game for defense.

It has two runic arts that can actually help with the offensive side of it. Steel of Dawn boosts the essence power of its blade, and Crescent of Dawn summons a massive arc of flame that burns enemies.

Vanguard of Dawn cannot be crafted, but you can purchase it from Sunlight Knight Beatrice at the Ashbourne Village in exchange for 5x Dawnlight Tokens.

Codex Rod

  • Type: Channeling Rod
  • Damage: 48.8 Light, Dark: 100%
  • Scaling: Arc: D

Codex Rod is by far the best weapon for Arcana-based ranged damage, but since ranged weapons don't have runic arts, it is only B-tier.

The damage it deals is impressive, but you also need to be aware of your position at all times. The enemies could get closer to you, and then you will have to either run or protect yourself with other means, since you can't block attacks with ranged weapons either.

Codex Rod crafting recipe

  • 2x Tattoed Finger
  • 4x Runed Tongue
  • 6x Forgotten Page

Red and Gold Greatbow

  • Type: Shortbow
  • Damage: 38.2 Fire, Light: 100%
  • Scaling: Dex: D

Judging by the lore, this bow is imbued with the draconic power, which is unsurprising as it stands among the best weapons in the game.

If you want to go for an archer build, then try to get this one as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this weapon has no runic arts, since it is ranged.

Red and Gold Greatbow crafting recipe

  • 2x Darke's Claw
  • 4x Ember Scale
  • 6x Dragon's Tear

Crystal Daggers

  • Type: Throwing Dagger
  • Damage: 33.9 Physical, Light: 100%
  • Scaling: Dex: D

Throwing dagger can be a great alternative to a bow, but it may not be as precise, although the damage is still quite significant.

This particular set of daggers utilizes the power of force, which is why it is among the best weapons for a Force-based build.

Crystal Daggers crafting recipe

  • 2x Glowing Flesh
  • 4x Kinetic Bone
  • 6x Force Mote

Related guides

Those are the best weapons in Salt and Sacrifice. Also, be sure to check out the rest of Salt and Sacrifice tips and tricks articles on our dedicated hub page.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Equip Higher Tier Weapons and Armor Fri, 13 May 2022 10:56:31 -0400 John Schutt

Salt and Sacrifice borrows mechanics from across genres. Its take on equipping gear comes straight out of Final Fantasy XII, as beginning characters simply can’t equip the better weapons and armor. You must manually unlock the ability to do so.

Instead, there’s an entirely separate means of equipping powerful weapons and armor in Salt and Sacrifice. Here’s how.

How to Equip Higher Tier Weapons and Armor in Salt and Sacrifice

As you level up in Salt and Sacrifice, you’ll earn the ability to activate the many nodes of the Tree of Skill grid. Most of these nodes raise a single stat point by one, meaning your progression will be slow but consistent.

If the node has a picture of a weapon or chest piece, it serves two purposes.

  • It will grant you the ability to use that weapon or armor.
  • It will add a point to a stat appropriate to the type of weapon or armor so unlocked.

Every piece of gear in the game, including Runic Arts, which are tied to specific weapons, has a Tier attached to them. When you start a new character, you’ll have access to all Tier 0 gear and one set of Tier 1 equipment: the weapon type and armor your starting class comes with by default.

Unlocking the ability to wear or wield Tier 5 gear will see you spending thousands and thousands of Salt to activate all the Skill grid nodes required. You’ll need to choose where to specialize because you won’t be using everything on a single character for a long, long time, especially on a first playthrough.

By the time you’ve unlocked Tier 5 of anything, you’ll be far along on your chosen build path. If you focused only on making it to Tier 5, you might have a lot of work to unlock any other abilities, weapons, or armor types. We recommend you branch out a little, as increasing your Vitality and Endurance is important to not end up as a smear on the floor, even if doing so takes you a few extra Skill grid nodes.

Now you know how to equip all tiers of armor and weapon in Salt and Sacrifice. Like leveling, it’s not the most elegant process, but it’s what we’re working with here. Thankfully, the Metroidvania elements in this game are a little more straightforward, so look at our guide to getting the Grappling Hook for an example. Read our review of Salt and Sacrifice and head over to the guides hub for more.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Level Up Fri, 13 May 2022 10:16:34 -0400 John Schutt

How to level up in Salt and Sacrifice isn’t as straightforward as in games like Elden Ring or Dark Souls. Doing so is a little out of the way, and there are a few extra steps involved. We’ll cover all of it in this guide.

As with any Souls-like, the first time you go through Salt and Sacrifice, you’ll want to become as strong as you can as fast as you can. The difficulty curve is pretty even, but expect to find your face in the dirt more times than is comfortable if you aren't properly leveled once it ramps up.

How to Level Up in Salt and Sacrifice

Before you can even get to the process of level up, you need a few hundred units of Salt. Early enemies drop around ten or less, so your primary source of Salt will be dying killing bosses and farming Mages. Your first few levels will cost less than 1,000 Salt, increasing incrementally with each higher level you attain.

You can also gain Salt to level up by collecting consumables that give set amounts of the stuff. In my experience, these are few and far between. Killing enemies, bosses, and Mages is far more efficient, plus you get materials for crafting.

Once you have about five hundred Salt, head back to the Pardoner’s Vale and travel to the left until you come upon a single mining outcropping. There is a set of steps going up out of the screen. Follow the steps to a large statue, where you should see a prompt to Level Up.

Spending Salt here increases your health but doesn’t do anything for your other stats. For that, you need to go into the Tree of Skill menu underneath the Level Up selection in the statue’s initial menu.

You can slowly increase your stats in the Tree of Skill grid by spending Black Starstone. You get one Black Starstone per level up, and using one to activate a node on the Skill grid unlocks all the nodes directly connected to it. The more nodes you activate, the more abilities, weapons, and armor you can access.

Occasionally, you’ll get something called Grey Starstone, which allows you to refund a node you’ve previously activated. It’s not quite a full respec, but it does allow for a few mistakes or reconsidered decisions.

Mini-bosses enemies, usually larger, more aesthetically complicated versions of standard enemies, also drop Black Starstone. For instance, in Ashbourne Castle, there’s an imposing knight who’s got a bigger sword and pointier helm than the other knights. He’s also taller. Killing him awards Black Starstone. Bear in mind mini-bosses are few and far between.

That’s about all there is you need to know about how to level up in Salt and Sacrifice. The extra complication is both a positive and negative about the game, as the skill grid can be more cumbersome than intuitive at times.

You can get the most out of the leveling process by picking the right starting class. For more on the game, check out our review of Salt and Sacrifice and the guides hub.

Salt and Sacrifice: All Starting Crime Items Guide Thu, 12 May 2022 14:24:50 -0400 Serhii Patskan

Choosing the right crime for an inquisitor in Salt and Sacrifice is just as important as selecting your character's class. A proper starting crime item can significantly boost your stats and provide other powerful bonuses.

This guide will list all starting crime items in Salt and Sacrifice, as well as provide you with short descriptions of what they mean.

All Starting Crime Items in Salt and Sacrifice

Alchemy Crime

  • Starting item: 3x Phlogiston Decoction.

A Phlogiston Decoction is a powerful potion, which can be thrown at enemies, exploding on impact. Selecting Alchemy crime gives you three such potions.

Arson Crime

  • Starting item: 5x Fire Bomb.

Firebombs are very similar in design to Phlogiston Decoctions, but in this instance, you get five of each.

Blasphemy Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Censer of Harmony.

This item lets you turn hostile creatures into friends by making them attack invaders.

Brigandry Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Cutthroat's Dagger.

This may sound like an additional weapon in your arsenal, but actually, it simply increases your stamina, which is good for mobile classes.

Drunkenness Crime

  • Starting item: 5x Cracked Wineskin.

This item can be filled up and used for storing your consumables, such as restorative elixirs.

Forgery Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Forged Deed.

This is a fake document for a piece of land in the Altarstone kingdom, which can be sold to merchants in exchange for goods.

Heresy Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Krine Tablet.

This is another exchange item, but you can swap it only for 5x Dawnlight Tokens.

Lasciviousness Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Lock of Hair/

This is an upgrade material, which can be used at the blacksmith to upgrade your weapons.

Smuggling Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Signal Lantern/

Lanterns are useful for lighting up the path in the darkest of the dungeons in the Altarstone kingdom.

Sumptuousness Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Signet Ring.

The Signet Ring is a ring of charm, which can be used to identify an individual's worth.

Usury Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Bag Of Silver.

One bag of silver equal to 1,000 silver coins, which can be used to purchase items at merchants.

Vagrancy Crime

  • Starting item: 1x Wooden Doll

You can give a doll to Herbalist Shanna at Pardoner's Vale and receive Gray Starstone during an exchange.

Related guides

Those are all starting crime items in Salt and Sacrifice. Also, be sure to check out the rest of Salt and Sacrifice tips and tricks articles on our dedicated hub page.

Salt and Sacrifice: Best Starting Classes Thu, 12 May 2022 14:13:39 -0400 John Schutt

There are eight starting classes in Salt and Sacrifice, and depending on your expertise with the genre, some options are better than others. New players unfamiliar with Souls-likes should gravitate to certain classes, experienced players another. 

We’ll talk about the starting classes for both types of players, what you get when you choose them, and who does what.

The Best Starting Classes in Salt and Sacrifice

As with most Souls-likes, there are better starting classes than others for specific builds, but you’re perfectly within your rights to pick any of them. Starting as Sage or Fighter might make certain fights more difficult and others easier, but with enough time and investment, a first playthrough can begin with any of them and do fine. The choices listed below are optimal for specific skill levels or make the game easier overall.

The Best Starting Class for New Players: Paladin

The Paladin starting class is perhaps the best choice for anyone who wants a straightforward first playthrough. There are three main reasons:

  • First, the Paladin comes equipped with a Vanguard-class weapon, otherwise known as a sword and shield. Their shield negates 95% of incoming physical damage and has good elemental resistance. The sword has one of the fastest attack speeds in the game and one of the best combo strings, whether in the air or otherwise.

  • Second, you have easy access to heavy armor, Vitality, Endurance, and Strength. The more Vitality you have, the higher your health. The more Endurance, the heavier the armor you can wear. There are a few nearby nodes on the Tree of Skill with the Will stat, which buffs your total Stamina. While the base Vanguard weapon for the Paladin isn’t the best in the game by any stretch, it does scale well enough with Strength, so your damage output won’t be lacking until at least the third zone.

  • Third, the Paladin’s Vanguard weapon has a Runic Art that buffs its damage by 20% for about 10 seconds. The animation isn’t very long, and you get two casts at full Rage.

If you wear the full Paladin armor set or anything else in the Heavy Armor category, you won’t roll far or fast unless you heavily invest into Endurance, but there’s plenty of it close to the Paladin’s starting skill node.

Provided you don’t branch into any of the skills on the other side of the grid, you’ll only need to be level 30 or so before you have more than enough damage and survivability to take on any of the challenges Salt and Sacrifice can throw at you.

The Best Starting Class for Experienced Players or a Second Playthrough: Cleric

The Cleric might not have many up-front advantages like the Paladin does, as it starts near the bottom portion of the skill grid. The difference, however, is how much access the Cleric has to the parts of the grid the Paladin has to spend at least five points to reach.

As a Cleric, you’ll start with access to Forbidden Glyphs, a Mace with a healing Runic Arc, and the ability to spec into almost any build in the game for minimum investment. This is thanks to the Cleric’s starting node being centrally located on the grid.

Almost every other class starts on the outer ring of the starting circle. The Cleric is on one of the inner nodes, opening up three paths: Staves, Rods, and Conviction weapons; Twindaggers and Dexterity weapons; and heavy armor, great hammers, and Strength.

The Cleric will have a little trouble getting access to Vitality and Endurance, as most of those nodes are directly opposite its starting point. You won't need as much health starting if you start as Cleric on a second playthrough. You will want to invest in Vitality after about level 20, however. Wait much longer, and you’re bound to be one or two-shot by any enemy you encounter.

Those are the two best starting classes in Salt and Sacrifice but know that they are viable for any player with enough grit and patience. For more on the game, our review goes over the good and the bad, and we discuss Runic Arts in more detail in our guide on the matter. Our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub is also growing, so check it out while you’re here.

Salt and Sacrifice: How Runic Arts Work Wed, 11 May 2022 07:09:57 -0400 John Schutt

Salt and Sacrifice has Runic Arts, special abilities tied to the weapons you find or craft in the game, rather than outright magic. Magic isn't just heretical in Salt and Sacrifice; it's the reason you're out to kill every Mage you can sink your blade into.

Using Runic Arts isn't the most straightforward mechanics, so this guide exists to explain everything you need to know. 

How Runic Arts Work in Salt and Sacrifice

Every craftable Mage weapon has some kind of Runic Art, and some you find out in the world do as well. To check if a weapon has a Runic Art, select it in either your inventory or crafting menu, then tab over once with the right trigger. 

You'll note two things:

  • Some weapons have not one but two Runic Arts, with activation bound to both X / Square and Y / Triangle.
  • Some weapons use Rage; some use something called Focus.

Using Runic Arts requires you to hold down the Left Trigger / L2 and press X / Square, which activates the Art. Note that once the animation begins, it cannot be stopped, so only use it when you have either plenty of space or time or both.

Focus Runic Arts consume Focus Points, one of the stats you're able to level up using the Tree of Skill grid. You drink Haze decoctions to refill Focus, so by default, you have three refills of your Focus Points.

Your Rage meter replaces your Focus meter when you have a Rage weapon equipped. Rather than spend Focus points, you build up Rage by attacking enemies. There's no distinction for tougher enemies, as every hit generates the same amount of Rage. Once you've accumulated enough, you can activate the Rage the same way a Focus Art activates.

There's one last wrinkle: to use Runic Arts, you have to unlock the proper Tier on the skill grid. Focus Arts use the Forbidden Glyph upgrade path, and Rage uses the Divine Glyph path.

These extend out from the bottom right part of the central set of skills on the grid. If you started as a Paladin, for instance, you'd need to spend extra points getting to those skills and would forsake the core parts of a standard Paladin build.

Which Runic Art is best for your build depends on what you're going for. Elemental damage is very important in this game, as each Mage and boss enemy has an elemental affinity, dictating their strengths and weaknesses. Fire damage does less against Fire bosses and so on.

Ideally, you'll want a Runic Art that has no damage type or is best for the Mage you're hunting. Bosses don't show their cards quite so readily, so finding out how best to fight them will take some trial and error. Well, more than usual.

Check out our review for a full rundown of what we thought about Salt and Sacrifice and its give and take Souls-like gameplay. We'll be digging more into the game in the coming days, so check out our Salt and Sacrifice guides hub.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Sprint and Craft on the Go Tue, 10 May 2022 10:47:00 -0400 John Schutt

With all the Souls-likes out there, even something as simple as how to sprint can be a head scratcher for newcomers to Salt and Sacrifice.

Few Souls-likes control the same way. Dark Souls and its siblings tend to move butting mapping around from game to game, with Elden Ring needing to rewrite some of its inputs because of the addition of the jump button. Nioh, thanks to its bevy of combat options, controls almost nothing like a traditional Souls game.

Salt and Sacrifice has a similar control issue. If you’re coming from any other Souls-like, the control scheme will be incredibly foreign, and your muscle memory will need time to relearn everything. This is especially the case with the game's on-the-go crafting. In this guide, we’ll cover both how to sprint and crafting on the go.

How to Sprint in Salt and Sacrifice

Sprinting only takes a single button press and how to sprint follows rules you’re likely familiar with if you’re a veteran Souls player. The input, however, isn’t used in any other game in the genre. Rather than holding down the B or Circle button, you press down on the left stick to sprint.

Sprint is set to toggle, so you don’t need to hold the stick down, but pressing it again does not stop the sprint either. Instead, you need to stop moving entirely, jump, roll, or clamber onto a platform to end the animation.

Sprinting drains your Stamina fairly quickly but doesn’t seem affected too much by your equip load the same way rolling is. You will stop sprinting when your Stamina runs out, of course.

How to Craft on the Go in Salt and Sacrifice

Thrown weapons — axes, daggers, and the like — are available from the beginning of your time in Salt and Sacrifice. They’re not an infinite resource, however. You need Irona Ore to craft them, and they’ll automatically craft every time you rest and resupply at an Obelisk.

If you’re out in the field and are running low on thrown weapons, simply hold B or Circle for the on-the-go crafting window to pop up. You can only create one piece of ammunition at a time, and you’ll be carrying more than a dozen even early in the game. If you don’t know where the next Obelisk is, or are otherwise in need of more thrown weapons, find a safe spot and craft some.

Be aware that crafting ammo takes about five seconds per unit, so you’re unlikely to do it during a boss fight. However, once you kill a Mage, they become roaming world bosses, so it’s more feasible to craft while fight them then.

You cannot craft healing flasks or other consumable thrown items on your hotbar. You need to rest and resupply at an Obelisk to get those back, and the game will automatically spend the materials from your inventory or stash.

And that’s how to sprint and how to craft craft on the go in Salt and Sacrifice. Not the most obvious of mechanics to use or find, but it wouldn’t be a proper Souls-like without some arcane controls scheme hidden in it.

We covered the first hidden movement upgrade in our Grappling Hook guide, and see our Salt and Sacrifice review for an extended opinion on the game.

Salt and Sacrifice: How to Find the Grappling Hook Tue, 10 May 2022 08:32:33 -0400 John Schutt

Navigating Salt and Sacrifice requires several upgrades found throughout the world. The first one you’ll need is the Grappling Hook, and once you have it, the game starts to open up.

Thankfully, you don’t have to travel far to find and start using this first tool. We’ll cover exactly where to go to find it.

How to Find the Grappling Hook in Salt and Sacrifice

Starting from the initial spawn point in Ashbourne Village, head left until you reach a branch in the path. Deal with the enemies in your way, then run into the lower doorway.

Going below will put you into Root-Ceil Cavern. This area is filled with skeleton enemies, archers, and bats. At its bottom is a heavily armed and armored knight who will put you in the ground faster than you can blink the first time you meet him.

Rather than going to the left any farther, head to the bottom right of the room. If you meet the green knight, you’ve gone too far down, so keep right until you reach another doorway.

Head through to reach the Greymoss Mire. You’ll become intimately familiar with this area, as you’ll need to beat Uryks Necklace-of-Ears to make it through, and there are at least two Mage fights in this area.

Once you beat Uryks, there’s only one more path you can take: the lower right cave entrance.

Inside this green-lit cavern, follow the one-way path down. At the bottom of the cavern, you’ll find a long-dead Inquisitor. Loot his corpse for the Grappling Hook.

With the Grappling Hook in hand, you can now latch onto the many shining grapple points around the map with the right trigger. You need to be jumping and within range of the grapple point for it to activate, but the activation distance is pretty generous.

If you aren’t headed in the right direction, let the full grapple animation play, turn your character in midair and use the Hook again. You’ll latch on in the new direction. You can chain grapples by repeatedly pressing the button, and you’ll need to for some of the long gaps.

That’s how to find the Grappling Hook in Salt and Sacrifice. Check out our review of the game if you’re looking to learn more about it.

Salt and Sacrifice Review: No Sacrifice for Quality Mon, 09 May 2022 10:00:01 -0400 John Schutt

Souls-likes are a notoriously difficult genre to get right. No two developers tackle the format the same way, and fewer still emulate the formula exactly. Salt and Sacrifice is as close to a classic Souls game as a 2D title can be, but it borrows or expands on other games’ ideas to find an identity of its own.

It’s part Metroidvania, a bit of Path of Exile, a touch of Monster Hunter, and plenty of the dark fantasy Souls fans enjoy. Salt and Sacrifice weaves these disparate mechanics and concepts together into a complex but still comprehensible whole.

It has more than a few rough edges, and some of the design decisions grate more than a little, but this is a game that sacrifices nothing for the sake of quality.

Salt and Sacrifice Review: No Sacrifice for Quality

You play an Inquisitor, tasked with the hunting of Mages, beings far more horrible than they’re portrayed elsewhere. You’re not told why these Mages need to be hunted, nor what the result of their extermination will be. You know only that doing so is penance for a grave crime you committed before the game began. Selecting this sin is a part of character creation and defines how certain NPCs interact with you.

After the opening cutscene and character creation, you’re dropped into Altarstone Kingdom and directed to seek any and all Mages, kill them, and devour their hearts. Bound by an ancient rite of your own, you will not die permanently, but being killed with rob you of some of your vigor.

So directed, you’ll set out to explore an interconnected world across five zones, plumbing their depths for new means of traversal, fighting both unique bosses and the Mages you’re sent to slay.

Each level in Salt and Sacrifice follows the Dark Souls philosophy of overlapping and looping design. No matter what Obelisk (the bonfire equivalent) you rest at, there will always be more than one way to reach your destination. You’ll unlock additional routes by collecting upgrades (a grappling hook, a cloth to catch the wind, etc.) or opening one-way doors accessible only after significant exploration.

Some shortcuts aren’t apparent at first and require map knowledge to gauge how to reach them. For instance, there is a shortcut not far from the first Obelisk in the desert level. You have to reach it from below, and it’s not immediately obvious where on the path the way up is.

That means using the shortcut's location and estimating how far to travel horizontally to reach it. The path is somewhat hidden and filled with deadly enemies, making the path arduous and sometimes frustrating, but it is nonetheless a relief to have the way open.

The world flows seamlessly together once you’re outside the Pardoner’s Vale hub space. Doorways give way to new locations without a single loading screen. Combined with the interconnected level design, this makes for enjoyable traversal even without the Metroidvania upgrades.

Each zone is also visually distinct, following a specific three or four primary color palette and drawing on only one or two for most of your time there. Caves and dungeons follow the typical rules, usually of grey and black stone adorned with the ruins of their former occupants.

Progressing through the game opens up stranger and more fantastical locations. The dilapidated village gives way to a barren wasteland, leading to a sopping mire, and then on to even weirder, more horrid locales. I was consistently surprised and delighted by each new location. There’s only so much to do with a 2D space visually, and Salt and Sacrifice pushes every boundary it can in that respect.

Beyond their level design, Souls-likes are known for tight combat and epic boss fights. Salt and Sacrifice does an admirable job of trying to deliver on both and usually succeeds. There are five weapon types, each with its own movesets, strengths, and weaknesses. Combined with the Runic Arts, a kind of Weapon Art or Ash of War that modifies the weapon or your attacks in some way, and the craftable items, there’s a fair bit of build customization here.

Making a build is a tougher sell. Salt and Sacrifice uses a traditional set of stats — Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, Endurance, etc. — but upgrading them uses a Path of Exile-style stat-and-skill grid. Depending on which class you pick, you’ll already have a small portion of the skill grid filled out, pushing you toward specific builds and playstyles.

Starting as a Paladin sees the grid leaning toward heavy armor and heavy weapons, focusing on burst damage modified by Strength and helped by Endurance. The exact opposite end is Arcana and Luck, a completely separate set of gear types you’ll never have enough points to experiment with. This system works well but clashes with character creation, which gives no clues or hints as to how stats are distributed. This disconnect does and doesn’t make sense on a first playthrough.

On the one hand, presenting new players with the massive skill grid is as liable to turn them off the game as suck them in. On the other, without knowing how stats will be distributed, there’s no way of planning a proper build. You’re stuck with instincts and assumptions only, hoping the choice you make is the right one.

Complicating matters further is how you unlock the ability to use gear. Unlike other Souls-likes, where your stats govern what you can and can’t use, Salt and Sacrifice gates higher-quality gear behind a tier system. If you haven’t unlocked the skill node to use Tier 2 heavy armor, for instance, you simply can’t equip it, even if you’re swimming in the stuff. With such a limitation, choosing the “wrong” starting class could see you starting a new game to access the weapons and gear you wanted to use initially, rather than costing a few extra stat points and calling it a day.

One of the joys of Souls-likes is the freedom with which you can tackle any challenge. Between the cumbersome gear unlock system and some annoying boss fights, I often felt like I was being pushed to do one thing in a certain way or risk constant failure. That is one of Elden Ring’s greatest faults in its late game, with one obligatory boss before the final dungeon being the most egregious.

Bosses in Salt and Sacrifice are by nature usually fairly straightforward. Run up, strike 2-4 times, dodge, or otherwise avoid the counterattack; repeat until the boss dies. Two problems arise. The bosses are often too large for their arena, leaving precious little room to maneuver around their attacks. Movement isn’t as precise or tight as it could be, making dodging some attacks more of an exercise in futility than skill.

There’s also the issue with boss attack hitboxes and recovery times. Salt and Sarifice doesn’t have in-air invincibility for specific attacks, so if one attack hits you, you can easily be juggled to the next. This can happen as many times as you have the health to tank attacks. On its own, that’s not a bad design decision. It punishes careless play and incentivizes precise spacing.

But boss attack hitboxes linger as long as the boss attacks, so if you’re knocked into the air by the first hit, you could quickly end up taking two or three hits from the same hitbox. If that happens, you have no ability to properly recover, as the boss will likely be on top of you once the attack ends.

Salt and Sacrifice thankfully doesn't have Eldest Souls’ problem of bosses preventing dodges. Still, it is constantly frustrating to watch myself get juggled not only by an attack that looked like it should juggle but by a single big weapon or fist that just kept moving toward me.

Adding to the annoyance is the lack of recovery time on some attacks. A large slam, even one by a boss that takes up half the screen, should have the boss recover. There were several times when that wasn’t the case, and instead of being given a moment to breathe and retaliate, I was frantically trying to get out of the way of an instant second attack.

Generally, though, my experience with the main story bosses was a good one. The fights are always fairly cinematic, and once I understood what attack did what, how, and when, it was a small matter to react accordingly. You can deal with even the frustrating or poorly designed bits, provided you know they are coming. It’s the mark of an ultimately solid Souls-like if perseverance, knowledge, and experimentation are sufficient to overcome a challenge.

Every Mage you defeat opens up the opportunity to craft their gear using the materials they and their summoned mobs drop. Defeat also causes them to spawn randomly on the map, making them farmable for different weapons, armor, rings, and other equipment. There are also Focus Hunts, randomly generated Mage hunts focused on target-farming specific loot. These are something of an endgame activity, but one you can participate in whenever you unlock them.

It is disappointing there is no way to craft regular boss equipment, as some of them have unique weapons and armor that could have been fun to use. Thankfully, there are plenty of different Mage types to slay, and all of them are mechanically distinct in a way that also translates into their craftable gear.

The type of gear you can craft depends on the kind of Mage. Big, lumbering brutes become heavy armor and weapons, the limber, fast-moving ones become light armor and weapons, and everywhere in between. As much frustration as there is in the conflict between starting class and skill grid, there’s plenty of replayability here. The first playthrough of any Souls-like save games like Nioh is bound to be unoptimized and inefficient. There’s no doubt going in with something specific in mind, with full knowledge of the skill grid, will be an entirely different experience.

It’s a shame then that the music in Salt and Sacrifice is so bland compared to some of its better designs and ideas. There was nothing too memorable, and while the music does get better for later boss fights, that should be expected.

The story also leaves a bit to be desired, not because it is bad or uninteresting (it isn’t); it is jarring how much it gets thrown in your face by every NPC. There is a lot more telling than showing in Salt and Sacrifice, with characters around the world more than happy to expound upon the last thing you killed or this or that topic you just learned about. The environmental storytelling is a bit better, and the environments themselves are always exciting to discover.

Salt and Sacrifice Review — The Bottom Line


  • A vast, weird world to explore and discover.
  • Weighty combat that has a surprising amount of depth.
  • A ton of satisfying boss fights to conquer.


  • A somewhat forgettable soundtrack.
  • The occasional frustrating fight with bosses or standard enemies.
  • Wonky hitboxes and boss reaction times.

Salt and Sacrifice is a labor of love for its genre, one that will scratch any veteran’s itch for more mysterious worlds to explore. It never reaches the heights of the best Souls-likes but never sinks to the lows of those that attempt and fail to work within the framework.

It should be commended for its scope, the lion’s share of its mechanic and system design, and the strangeness of the world in which you play. Even those concepts it borrows from other successful titles play to its strengths. In spite of its thankfully few stumbles, there are few games on the market that do quite what Salt and Sacrifice does, and few do it as well.

[Note: Ska Studios provided the copy of Salt and Sacrifice used for this review.]

Salt and Sacrifice PvP Multiplayer Detailed in New Trailer Mon, 30 Aug 2021 11:08:18 -0400 Jonathan Moore

We already knew that Salt and Sacrifice would have multiplayer elements when it releases in Q1 2022 for PC, PlayStation 4, and PS5. Developer Ska Studios said that there would be "drop-in, drop-out" online cooperative multiplayer. Details were scant at the time, but the team shared new info about that system, including its PvP elements, during the Future Game Show at Gamescom. 

As a Marked Inquisitor, players are tasked with hunting down corrupt mages to cleanse the land of the Altarstone Kingdom. That much we knew. Now it's clear that other players will be able to either help with that endeavor or stand in its way. 

A trailer that debuted during the Future Game Show gave a look at that system, showcasing two of the factions that will provide aid or "wreak chaos": the Shroud Alliance (PvP) and the Blueheart Runners (PvEvP). It also confirmed that players will be able to play through the entire Salt and Sacrifice campaign with a partner through a password system.

The summoning candle is used to initiate multiplayer, useable by those that have reached atonement by consuming what's called a Guiltless Shard. As Developer James Silva puts it in the video above, atonement allows players to summon allies to fight against AI enemies, but it also opens the door for invasion from the Shroud Alliance. 

Much like in Dark Souls 3, it's possible to auto-summon allies when invaded, pending other players are wearing an "amulet of the Oathbound Watcher." This system of invasion and protection seems more akin to what Soulslike vets are accustomed to, though it's unclear if invaders under the Shroud Alliance will battle AI enemies on their way to an Inquisitor.

Those playing as Blueheart Runners have a slightly different task ahead of them, focusing on PvEvP while taking on other players, as well as collecting something called Ashes of the Hazeburnt. Silva describes the Hazeburnt as a "horde of zombie-like creatures who have succumbed to the Spellmark curse." 

The description is interesting because it's unclear if the Hazeburnt are in any way related to the shades of defeated players (think a take on the bloodstain system in Dark Souls).

Regardless, slaying Hazeburnt summons Hazewraiths that Silva said will "hunt your pursuers" constantly invading and hunting other players. Up to four players (2v2) can fight each other at one time in this mode. 

There's still a lot we don't know about Salt and Sacrifice, the sequel to 2016's Salt and Sanctuary. Stay tuned for more.

Header image credit: GamesRadar

Salt and Sacrifice Gameplay Grapples With Savage Enemies and Wicked Mages Mon, 21 Jun 2021 15:00:47 -0400 David Carcasole

Salt and Sacrifice, the recently announced follow-up to developer Ska Studios' indie hit Salt and Sanctuary, has just received an extended trailer showing off a whopping 10 minutes of gameplay. 

The PlayStation trailer highlights the combat and platforming challenges players will face in Salt and Sacrifice, as well as a couple of boss fights and co-op play. The studio's distinct hand-drawn style and unique foggy lighting are back in what already looks to be another compelling Soulslike adventure. 

Salt and Sacrifice was revealed at the Summer Games Fest kickoff event, with a trailer that showcased some new mechanics, such as the grapple hook, which we get a closer look at in this gameplay trailer. It already looks to be creating new, complex platforming challenges while adding a level of player maneuverability that wasn't possible in Salt and Sanctuary

Glimpses of the game's inventory, equipment, and crafting systems can be seen, alongside what looks to be a fast travel system involving runes. 

There's still no word on a specific release date for Salt and Sacrifice, and there is no more clarification regarding whether or not it'll come to Xbox and Nintendo consoles. For now, Salt and Sacrifice is set for Q1 2022, launching on PC, PlayStation 4, and PS5. 

Salt and Sacrifice, the Sequel to Salt and Sanctuary, is Coming in 2022 Fri, 11 Jun 2021 17:57:48 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Salt and Sanctuary, the 2016 2D Soulslike, is getting a "sequel." Developer Ska Studios announced that Salt and Sacrifice will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and PS5 sometime in 2022. It's unclear if it will come to Xbox platforms. The announcement was made through a reveal trailer during the Summer Game Fest kickoff event. 

We say "sequel" because it appears Salt and Sacrifice is taking a page out of the Demon's Souls to Dark Souls playbook. Based on what Ska Studios has shared about the game so far, it doesn't appear to be directly related to Salt and Sanctuary narratively, and though it seems to carry over mechanics from the first game, it also seems to greatly expand upon them in compelling ways. 

Players will take the role of a marked inquisitor, a pariah of sorts in the Altarstone Kingdom. The inquisitor's purpose is to hunt down and destroy mages, but just not any run-of-the-mill mage. These are terrifying, sometimes towering behemoths that feel right at home in any Soulslike

Take a look at the trailer below. 

According to Ska Studios, there will be eight classes to choose from in Salt and Sacrifice. Though that's the same number available in Salt and Sanctuary, the classes in Salt and Sacrifice carry different names and, presumably, different characteristics and abilities. They are Highblade, Paladin, Assassin, Cleric, Dualist, Fighter, Ranger, and Sage. 

Like Salt and Sanctuary, Salt and Sacrifice will include "drop-in drop-out" online cooperative multiplayer. 

Ska Studios says there will be 20 types of mages (bosses) to take down in Salt and Sacrifice, and the map will be even more varied than before, featuring "eerie villages, tomb temples, and swamp kingdoms." Of course, there will be a number of skills and abilities to choose from through the Runic Arts system, though those weren't specified in the initial release. 

There's still a lot we don't know about Salt and Sacrifice, but stay tuned over the coming months as Ska Studios is sure to provide more information leading up to launch in 2022.