Hello everyone, James B.Boss here with *wait for it* my first full game review in a long time. In the interest of hitting the ground running, let me start by saying that I love the Dark Souls series. Sure, it could be considered a little masochistic for playing these games, but there is something about them that irresistibly that lures me into its signature chaos again and again, so it’s a no brainer to say that I’m looking forward to playing Dark Souls 3 when it releases on April 12th, but for hardcore nerds like myself, that’s still a pretty long wait. Luckily, I was able to fill in the gap with a game that shares the same style as Dark Souls, but in the form of a platformer that I learned about whilst I was flipping through the gaming category Flipboard app on my iPad (no pun intended) when a very interesting article caught my eye talking about a game that was “the 2D Dark Souls game, that we have been waiting for”. I usually don’t make any less-than-completely informed gamble on these sort of things especially when it comes to video games, but I felt that it would be worth a shot. This is Salt and Sanctuary by developer Ska Studios.
The game starts off with you riding on a ship that is escorting a princess to neighboring kingdom to marry a prince, in hopes of creating peace. Unfortunately, you are attacked by raiders and a gigantic creature named the unspeakable deep. In the spirit of the “Souls” games, they introduce you to a boss that is overpowered and kills you in an instant. You then wake up on an island, with the crew and the princess nowhere in sight. You then venture forth to explore the island, in hopes of finding the princess and escaping the island. As I explored the island, I was able to experience some of the game’s more interesting areas, like ruins, destroyed villages, caves and a prison. Along the way, I also met my fair share of interesting characters, who also have goals of their own; like a warrior who has his own quest to complete, a thief who searches the island in hopes of finding treasure and some others who serve as shop merchants. As I was playing the game, I was impressed by the game’s presentation. The dark and gloomy setting along with excellent hand-drawn style art really brought out the game’s charm. The sound effects that you hear when fighting enemie are also good and very fitting. Every time you land your weapon on an enemy unit, it makes a sort of “goosh” sound, so you know for sure that you hit them, probably quite hard, which is also good as there is quite a bit of gore in this game; especially when you end up cutting off certain enemies’ heads. There’s not have that much when it comes to a musical score though, and the only time the music does comes on is on certain occasions during exploration and when you are fighting a boss. Speaking of bosses, there are numerous amounts spread throughout the island awaiting your challenge.
While the presentation aspect that Salt and Sanctuary has to offer stood out to me, I believe that any game’s true shine comes the gameplay and the challenge. This is also where the game has the chance to back up the claims that it is in fact the 2D Dark Souls game it was referred to in the original article I read. How does it stack up? SaS is pretty challenging and will require some trial and error to get past certain points, but never let that get you down, since after all , that’s how DS games are. At the beginning of the game, you can create your own character and choose what kind of class you would like to play as, like a knight, thief, mage or what have you. As this is a combat-based game, weapons such as swords, lances, bows, magic and pretty much every other tool of destruction is available to the various classes. Another useful feature in SaS is its display of the equipment that your character is actively using, making it easy to keep track of stat changes. The game even goes as far as to show extra equipment detail like the little charms that you can equip on to your weapons to give them extra abilities. Strengthening the connection to Dark Souls, SaS has its own form of in game currency called Salt. Players can level up their character by using salt and items called Black Pearls, which can be used on the skill tree to build up your characters’ growth. You can also purchase items in game by using gold or salt depending on the type of vendor. Salt is acquired by defeating enemies and bosses, but take heed since also like Dark Souls (and annoyingly like Castlevania II) when you die, you lose all your salt. You can however have the chance to regain your Salt, by simply returning to the location of your death and killing whoever absorbed your salt. As you explore the island, you also come across select caves that you can turn into Sanctuaries, which are pretty much this game’s version of a safe zones. In these Sanctuaries, you can summon helpers by using statues that you find in the game. You can only have up to four helpers per sanctuary, so choose wisely.
While Salt and Sanctuary is not a part of the Souls franchise, I feel like does indeed live up to being called a spiritual successor to Dark Souls The setting and ambiance of the game definitely match up, and the gameplay is something that definitely gets you on the edge of your seat. However similar they are, they still have their own unique qualities and quirks that make them different but still very fun. While I have only a few more weeks until the release of Dark Souls 3, I will be well occupied with Salt and Sanctuary and I’m happy to say that my seemingly “random gamble on on a video game”, was the right choice. For those of you who are fans of the Souls franchise, I highly recommend giving this game a try, and for those of you who aren’t, but still looking for a good challenge, I still recommend it.
Salt and Sanctuary is currently available only on the PS4, will soon be released on PS Vita and PC..
— Boss? What happened? BOSS?!