Salt & Sanctuary is one of Ska Studios largest projects to date and tackles the enormous task of Dark Souls-like game in 2D. As a shipwrecked sailor in an unfamiliar land, the player must rescue the princess that holds to peace of the world in her hands. Of course, there are horrific creatures inhabiting the villages, valleys, and dungeons that lie between the shores the sailor washes up on and the princess.
Salt & Sanctuary is a cross between a Metroidvania title and a Soulsborne (Dark Souls/Bloodborne) game. Players start the game by customizing a character by choosing a class, starting items, and how their character will look. They’re then thrown into the game with a few hints on how to move, attack, save, and spend their Salt.
Salt, in this case, is the equivalent of Souls in Dark Souls. Every enemy will drop a bit, and it’s used to level up at Sanctuaries. There’s also weapons/armor to craft, a skill tree to progress through, and more.
Exploration in the world is dangerous. Monsters are everywhere, as are huge bosses, spikes to impale yourself on, and deadly heights to fall from. Players must hack, slash, block, roll, and use whatever else they can find to make their way from Sanctuary to Sanctuary.
Ska Studios has a very distinct look for their games, and Salt & Sanctuary is no different. The game is very dark, gritty, depressing, and oozing with theme. There may be some who are turned off by the visuals, but everything just fits in the game.
As for how the game sounds, the soundtrack swells and declines with what’s happening in the game, increasing the tension or lulling you into a false sense of security. It’s just another layer that adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. One that does so seamlessly.
Salt & Sanctuary is an ambitious project by a smaller studio and has some big shoes to fill. That being said, it does so beautifully, capturing the feeling Soulsborne games even while sticking strictly to 2D. It still feels like the games it takes its inspiration from.
Comparing the game to Dark Souls doesn’t fully do it justice, though. As stated earlier, there’s as much Castlevania in the game as Dark Souls. Saying the game is just a mix of both titles still falls a bit more. Salt & Sanctuary may imitate these titles, but bring a ton of its own addictive gameplay and charm to the mix. It’s a solid title, and not one to pass up if you’re of fan of Metroidvania and/or Soulsborne titles.
Just be prepared to die.
A PS4 copy of Salt & Sanctuary was provided free for review by Ska Studios.