Review of Salt and Sacrifice: The Bitter Salt of Defeat & The Sweetness of Victory

Souls-style games have been filling the shelves of virtual stores for a long time. At first glance, Salt and Sanctuary seemed like a 2D clone of Dark Souls, but because of the side view and references to other big-name games, including Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it still feels fresh. This approach allowed the authors from Ska Studios to successfully stand out from other projects and gain honor and respect.

The release of the sequel was only a matter of time, but given that the studio actually consists of only a couple of people, this process dragged on for a long six years. Instead of using the number “2” in the title, the creators decided to call the second game Salt and Sacrifice, which plays up a little with the plot.

It all starts with character creation. The choice of class and crime affects the initial set of skills, equipment and an additional item that will be in the inventory of the protagonist from the start. In the future, you can develop without being tied to a class.

Having chosen a lightly armored spearman, at some point I wanted to change the style of play and arm myself with a sword along with heavy armor. This turned out to be a little more difficult than in Dark Souls, because in addition to pumping certain characteristics, such as strength or agility, on which the power of an attack depends, there are special cells on the branched skill tree that allow you to wear one or another weapon and equipment.

It is worth noting that the points spent on these skills can be returned with the help of special items that are found during the passage of missions. This is very convenient and allows you to experiment without fear of spoiling the character.

After the creation of the protagonist, a small cutscene begins, where we are told about a world plunged into chaos due to violent and bloodthirsty magicians who nightmare the local kingdom. The protagonist is a convicted criminal who is forced to become an inquisitor, a hunter of insane sorcerers. The main task of the player is to track down and kill magicians, who often look like huge fiends. Otherwise, the plot seems simple and does not arouse much interest in itself, however, in the context of a gloomy entourage and exciting gameplay, it becomes a good help for immersing yourself in this dangerous world.

Initially, the main character is in the village, which serves as a kind of hub. There is a blacksmith here, whose assortment is updated as you progress, as well as several merchants and spellcasters. On the lowest tier, you can find some special gates that teleport the character to different locations independent of each other. This element of the game is clearly inspired by the Stargate saga, and similar to the movie and numerous TV shows, the tunnel to the right place is opened thanks to a special set of symbols. Exploring the world of Salt and Sacrifice, the hero will discover new runes and whole addresses that will send him to new locations or activate one or another level boss.

By the way, the hunt for mages is different from the typical fights with powerful opponents in Souls games, because here they are trying to run away and they must be pursued. Of course, some story bosses are waiting for the player in strictly defined places, but most of these monstrous opponents are initially hidden. They appear only after finding special zones where these magicians performed their cruel rituals. Further, the inquisitor is on the trail of a violent magician is a kind of haze.

In most cases, bosses are huge and detailed creatures that exploit one or another natural element. When you get to the magician, he will definitely call his minions for help, after which they will aggressively attack the hero together. However, having received several blows, the leader will run away. It is noteworthy that different types of monsters in locations can fight with each other, including magicians and their associates, who often begin to deal with the local inhabitants of the location, especially if the inquisitor is out of sight. Often you will have to participate in a three-way fight, which makes you quickly think about the optimal strategy, otherwise both of them will instantly fall on the main character with a stream of endless blows. Sometimes it is worth waiting for the opponents to weaken each other, and only then join the battle.

There are situations when it is better to help one enemy fight off another more powerful enemy. Somehow, in the expanses of poisonous swamps (which have become mandatory for all games inspired by Dark Souls), two wandering magicians met, the battle was hot and epic – with many special effects and summoned minions. The ringleaders received several blows and disappeared, while their comrades-in-arms remained to chop each other to the end. This feature of the game shows the interactivity of the world, which lives on its own, regardless of the actions of the player, which is undoubtedly pleasing. At first, such an unexpected sight causes a smile and even laughter.

After several unsuccessful attempts to hide from the player, the mage takes the fight. It is noteworthy that all the damage that the hero managed to inflict on the enemy during the pursuit is preserved. After the victory, the body of a huge monster is blown away to “human size”, and the protagonist receives the heart of the defeated, thanks to which he will be able to further explore the area. The main thing is not to forget to pick up valuable items needed to create and improve weapons or equipment. In addition, a dying mage can start a small dialogue, as a result of which it is quite possible to get an additional item and reveal a little about the villain’s motivation. Of course, this is not a retelling of the entire life of the boss, as in Metal Gear Solid 4, but a few lines of text add to the atmosphere.

As you explore the locations, the inquisitor encounters some doors with a red glow. They open after receiving those very hearts of mad magicians. Somewhere one is enough, but somewhere you need two or three pieces. The locations themselves are designed like an anthill, where there are many different shortcuts and secret paths. In addition, as you progress, you can find special items that allow you to get to new places. For example, a grappling hook helps to cling to special loops, and a magic crystal activates previously inaccessible platforms. All in all, Metroidvania fans should appreciate this approach.

Despite the fact that the game has small locations, the developers did not provide a map on which one could mark all the key points or at least understand where you have already been and where you need to go. Often, after defeating several bosses, you have to wander around the level in search of opened doors to a new location. It is also worth noting that from time to time there are special altars – analogues of fires from Dark Souls. The character moves to them after losing, and there you can restore consumables or teleport back to the hub. However, for some reason, the developers did not provide for movement between these altars, which slightly slows down the exploration of locations.

The combat system in Salt and Sacrifice seems to be quite varied due to the different types of weapons and spells. Having dressed the hero in brown leather armor and armed with a whip, you can play the role of another hunter from the Belmont family, or put on a cocked hat with a cloak and imagine that you are freeing Yharnam again. Each type of weapon is present in different types, divided by type of damage and additional attacks.

When the block button is held down, some weapons offer additional moves and magic spells. These can be lightning volleys or blade enhancement for poison attacks on the enemy. As it should be in Dark Souls, the main character can roll, and the range and speed of the roll depends on the weight of the ammunition. Despite the simple mechanics, the gameplay is captivating and addictive due to the variety of weapons and pleasant combat animations, which the authors tried to make beautiful and smooth.

As for the visual component, it is somewhat unusual due to the country perspective of various elements of the environment, which seems unnatural and in places resembles a “reverse perspective” from icon painting. All this, together with the gloomy surroundings and the surreal multi-level structure of local locations, gives the visual a certain mystery.

In addition to the already mentioned big bosses, it is worth noting the interesting design and simple enemies. There are both ordinary knights and goblins, as well as strange mutants resembling mole rabbits with sharp spider legs, as well as a wide variety of fantasies about animals, natural phenomena and the elements. Despite the hand-drawn and sometimes cartoonish design, the detailing of the environment and characters pleases. While exploring the area near the lake, you can notice that not only the shine of the moon is beautifully reflected in the water, but also the battle taking place on the screen. By the way, the smoothness of the picture is achieved due to the high FPS value. There are no visual modes in the game, so it’s hard to say about the exact technical data, but in the special window of the LG TV, which shows the operation of the screen when VRR is turned on, the hertz is spinning around the value of 118-119 Hz.

In the end, it is worth mentioning the online component. Here it is implemented in much the same way as in FromSoftware games. Using special candles, the inquisitor can call up to two companions or go to help another player. Also, other inquisitors from the network can invade the world of the protagonist and, for example, spoil the battle with the boss. By the way, they give hunting not only for magicians, but also for these “red phantoms”, for which there is a separate code on the gates in the hub that sends the protagonist to the world where the intruder came from. In general, such a system will be familiar to all fans of “souls-like” games. For participation in online activities, special coins are given, for which you can purchase various equipment and weapons. If you can’t get past some boss alone,

Salt and Sacrifice is a good game that borrows ideas from FromSoftware and some other popular projects, but does it very carefully. An interesting approach to design and an exciting gameplay will draw you in for many hours. The developers clearly love the works they refer to, so all the borrowings are neatly intertwined, and, importantly, they work well together. If you love the Dark Souls series and 2D platformers, then we recommend that you pay attention to Salt and Sacrifice.

 

In most cases, bosses are huge and detailed creatures that exploit one or another natural element. When you get to the magician, he will definitely call his minions for help, after which they will aggressively attack the hero together. However, having received several blows, the leader will run away. It is noteworthy that different types of monsters in locations can fight with each other, including magicians and their associates, who often begin to deal with the local inhabitants of the location, especially if the inquisitor is out of sight. Often you will have to participate in a three-way fight, which makes you quickly think about the optimal strategy, otherwise both of them will instantly fall on the main character with a stream of endless blows. Sometimes it is worth waiting for the opponents to weaken each other, and only then join the battle.

There are situations when it is better to help one enemy fight off another more powerful enemy. Somehow, in the expanses of poisonous swamps (which have become mandatory for all games inspired by Dark Souls), two wandering magicians met, the battle was hot and epic – with many special effects and summoned minions. The ringleaders received several blows and disappeared, while their comrades-in-arms remained to chop each other to the end. This feature of the game shows the interactivity of the world, which lives on its own, regardless of the actions of the player, which is undoubtedly pleasing. At first, such an unexpected sight causes a smile and even laughter.

After several unsuccessful attempts to hide from the player, the mage takes the fight. It is noteworthy that all the damage that the hero managed to inflict on the enemy during the pursuit is preserved. After the victory, the body of a huge monster is blown away to “human size”, and the protagonist receives the heart of the defeated, thanks to which he will be able to further explore the area. The main thing is not to forget to pick up valuable items needed to create and improve weapons or equipment. In addition, a dying mage can start a small dialogue, as a result of which it is quite possible to get an additional item and reveal a little about the villain’s motivation. Of course, this is not a retelling of the entire life of the boss, as in Metal Gear Solid 4, but a few lines of text add to the atmosphere.

As you explore the locations, the inquisitor encounters some doors with a red glow. They open after receiving those very hearts of mad magicians. Somewhere one is enough, but somewhere you need two or three pieces. The locations themselves are designed like an anthill, where there are many different shortcuts and secret paths. In addition, as you progress, you can find special items that allow you to get to new places. For example, a grappling hook helps to cling to special loops, and a magic crystal activates previously inaccessible platforms. All in all, Metroidvania fans should appreciate this approach.

Despite the fact that the game has small locations, the developers did not provide a map on which one could mark all the key points or at least understand where you have already been and where you need to go. Often, after defeating several bosses, you have to wander around the level in search of opened doors to a new location. It is also worth noting that from time to time there are special altars – analogues of fires from Dark Souls. The character moves to them after losing, and there you can restore consumables or teleport back to the hub. However, for some reason, the developers did not provide for movement between these altars, which slightly slows down the exploration of locations.

The combat system in Salt and Sacrifice seems to be quite varied due to the different types of weapons and spells. Having dressed the hero in brown leather armor and armed with a whip, you can play the role of another hunter from the Belmont family, or put on a cocked hat with a cloak and imagine that you are freeing Yharnam again. Each type of weapon is present in different types, divided by type of damage and additional attacks.

When the block button is held down, some weapons offer additional moves and magic spells. These can be lightning volleys or blade enhancement for poison attacks on the enemy. As it should be in Dark Souls, the main character can roll, and the range and speed of the roll depends on the weight of the ammunition. Despite the simple mechanics, the gameplay is captivating and addictive due to the variety of weapons and pleasant combat animations, which the authors tried to make beautiful and smooth.

As for the visual component, it is somewhat unusual due to the country perspective of various elements of the environment, which seems unnatural and in places resembles a “reverse perspective” from icon painting. All this, together with the gloomy surroundings and the surreal multi-level structure of local locations, gives the visual a certain mystery.

In addition to the already mentioned big bosses, it is worth noting the interesting design and simple enemies. There are both ordinary knights and goblins, as well as strange mutants resembling mole rabbits with sharp spider legs, as well as a wide variety of fantasies about animals, natural phenomena and the elements. Despite the hand-drawn and sometimes cartoonish design, the detailing of the environment and characters pleases. While exploring the area near the lake, you can notice that not only the shine of the moon is beautifully reflected in the water, but also the battle taking place on the screen. By the way, the smoothness of the picture is achieved due to the high FPS value. There are no visual modes in the game, so it’s hard to say about the exact technical data, but in the special window of the LG TV, which shows the operation of the screen when VRR is turned on, the hertz is spinning around the value of 118-119 Hz.

In the end, it is worth mentioning the online component. Here it is implemented in much the same way as in FromSoftware games. Using special candles, the inquisitor can call up to two companions or go to help another player. Also, other inquisitors from the network can invade the world of the protagonist and, for example, spoil the battle with the boss. By the way, they give hunting not only for magicians, but also for these “red phantoms”, for which there is a separate code on the gates in the hub that sends the protagonist to the world where the intruder came from. In general, such a system will be familiar to all fans of “souls-like” games. For participation in online activities, special coins are given, for which you can purchase various equipment and weapons. If you can’t get past some boss alone,

Salt and Sacrifice is a good game that borrows ideas from From Software and some other popular projects, but does it very carefully. An interesting approach to design and an exciting gameplay will draw you in for many hours. The developers clearly love the works they refer to, so all the borrowings are neatly intertwined, and, importantly, they work well together. If you love the Dark Souls series and 2D platformers, then we recommend that you pay attention to Salt and Sacrifice.

Shovel Knight

Game completed on:

PS5

Correct topics:
no

Duration:
25-30 hours

 

Platforms:

PS5
PS4
PC

Developer:

Ska Studios

Publisher:

Ska Studios

Genres:

action
RPG

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