PC: Salt and Sacrifice
Looking back, I think that a lot of the reason why I loved Ska Studios' Salt and Sanctuary was because of my Soulsborne obsession. After completing Bloodborne 100%, I beat Dark Souls III and got 100%. Then came Salt and Sanctuary, which was the perfect game to feed my Soulsborne addiction. It ruled, even though it had its problems.
Six years later, Ska Studios released Salt and Sacrifice. I have mellowed a little since then. In the last six years, I have played many Souls-like games and I managed to complete Elden Ring. However, I wasn't quite able to fully master that huge game. Salt and Sacrifice brings a few new features to the table, but it is still the same 2D side-scrolling RPG that we played so many years ago.
Anyone who has played Souls in the past decade should instantly feel at home when they start the game. After you've created your character and chosen your class, you can choose a gift to start the game. The Souls formula is followed to the letter. You get to know the controls and kill some enemies. Next, you get to take your antics to a tutorial boss who's far too difficult for your level.
Spellmarked means your character can't die because it is undead, bearer of the Curse or Ashen One. You are doomed to become the Marked Inquisitor and hunt Mages across the country if you commit a terrible crime. The game will send you on your path, and that's when the fun begins.
Salt and Sacrifice has a hub world that allows you to interact with NPCs, forge gear, and level up. Once you are ready, you can access various locations through a portal. Then you can start hunting down those Mages.
Salt and Sacrifice, just like its predecessor, surprised me by how vast its world is. Ska Studios is the best Souls-like game we have seen. It introduces interconnected world design and cleverly leads back to familiar areas or shortcuts. Even though I've grown a bit tired of Soulsborne, it was still incredibly satisfying when I found a clever shortcut or when I was able to mentally map out an area and know where to go next.
Salt and Sacrifice's world design is criticized for the way that all levels look identical. You'll feel intimidated when you first step outside of Ashbourne Village into Greymoss Mire because they're each themed differently. Salt and Sacrifice is a dull and grey-colored character, and their divisive art style makes it difficult to see the problem.
Personally, I have never liked the series' large-headed, wide-eyed, chibi character models, and its gothic fonts and cartoony environments. While it is a personal preference, I don't think you will find the game visually stunning or striking if you don't like the art style.
Salt and Sacrifice delivers on the combat aspect of the game, so you don't have to be too fussy about how it looks. There are a lot of weapons in the game, from straight swords and greatswords to bows, staffs and katanas. Although these are the most common types of weapon, there are many unique ones.
You must also be cautious about panic rolling and spamming attacks during boss battles. Ska Studios has added Mage Hunts to Salt and Sacrifice to make them even more special.
You'll eventually reach a point where you can encounter bosses in open-world. From there, you will be given the task of following them through different zones until you are able to defeat them and eat their hearts. The Mage Hunts can be frustrating at first. They involve bosses throwing ranged attacks and spells at your face before they disappear once you have hit them.
You must have an understanding of the layout of the area to be able to chase them down. Being able to find a Mage and avoid regular enemies along the way is a rewarding experience for players who take the time to study the surroundings. You can then take their hearts and forge more powerful equipment. They are definitely worth the effort.
You may enjoy Mage Hunts. Each region in Salt and Sacrifice contains a Fated Tome. This can be returned to NPCs in the hub to unlock Fated Hunts. These procedurally generated Hunts can be attempted daily and are a great way for you to test your knowledge about the bosses and the map.
The combat and leveling system tie all these elements together, but it still feels overwhelming, especially at the beginning. To level up, you will need to gather Salt. Once you have done that, skill points can be used to unlock additional stat boosts and perks in the skill tree. Seriously. Do you remember the Path of Exile-like skill trees we received in Salt and Sanctuary. It looks bigger in this game and is basically a min-maxer’s dream.
Even though I was a fan of min-maxing, I quickly became overwhelmed by the number of paths and options available. While leveling up your character is easy and does not require you to choose any stats to add points to, it's in your skill tree that your choices will have a significant impact on how you play the game. Combining this with the combo-style action makes it easy to create a unique build for each player.
I was unable to stop playing after the credits rolled. There were still many secret areas to discover, Fated Hunts that needed to be cleared, and so many weapons to test out. I just unplugged my gamepad and switched to another genre of game.
Maybe it's because I'm still trying to decompress from my two-month-long Elden Ring binge. Or maybe it's that I don't like the art direction. It's possible that I'm all Souls-ed at this point. We've seen the same formula over and again and it needs to be improved as we move further into this era Souls-like games popping out everywhere.
Elden Ring was the one who brought it to life by placing players in a vast open-world. Salt and Sacrifice tries to do the same by adding new elements such as Mage Hunts and a never ending skill tree. But on a personal level, I find that this is not enough to keep me interested and engaged. I don't intend to discourage anyone looking for a Souls-like title to play. Salt and Sacrifice is an excellent title in this growing genre and a great sequel to its predecessor.
It's quite funny to think that six years ago this exact game would have been released. I would be eager to see all of its content because it is such a solid RPG. Salt and Sacrifice continue to master the intricate details that go into making a Souls-like experience. This is a simple recommendation for most players, especially those who are just starting to explore the genre. For the rest of us, however, this is not enough.
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