Salt And Sacrifice is a 2D metroidvania hunt-a-thon that casts you as a condemned prisoner in an imperiled kingdom. Magic is corrupting the land, giving rise to monstrous creatures and ravenous undead, and the supply of all of this destruction, Mages, have to be hunted and their hearts devoured if the Kingdom is to outlive. Like Ska Studios’s earlier outing, the sport options tough fight, in depth tools choices, and hulking bosses to slay. However whereas the size has elevated and the fight and visuals are as slick as ever, there are some rising pains that solely simply handle to carry the sport again from its full potential.
Upon booting the sport up, it’s instantly clear that you simply’re in for a visible deal with.The design and element are simply ever so beautiful: from the best way firelight provides a delicate glow to its environment within the twilight, to how fog wafts lazily over cobble stairways in a musty dungeon, it’s all simply so totally attractive to take a look at. Ska Studios have all the time had a recognizable artwork fashion – imposing structure and grungy moppets – however it’s plain to see right here that they’ve upped their sport in the very best approach. In line with the devs, each asset was created from scratch, and that care exhibits in each body.
After choosing your character class (and getting bodied by an overpowered boss monster in true soulslike trend) you awaken in Pardoner’s Vale. It is a base camp in which you’ll be able to stage up, construct or enhance tools, purchase or promote gadgets, pet your lovely antlerkitty, show trophies obtained from hunts, and chat with varied NPCs that you simply meet out on the planet. It’s additionally the place you’ll discover the Mirrorgate, a portal that permits you to journey to totally different areas as you unlock them. You’ll must traverse these areas and collect clues to kick off Mage Hunts, that are boss fights that function the sport’s most important exercise.
As in Salt And Sanctuary, you’ll nonetheless be stringing collectively gentle assaults, heavies, dodge-rolls, parries, and blocks, however the assaults and motion are notably quicker and snappier this time round. The weapons you’ll be utilizing at the moment are extra akin to the looking gear from Monster Hunter, as each weapon kind has its personal moveset and paired weapons like swords and shields are inseparable. This will likely initially give the impression that there’s much less selection in how the participant may arm themselves, however in observe it permits every weapon to have a singular identification versus feeling redundant. A flame stave and a lightning stave have the identical base assault sample, however they’ve utterly totally different Runic Arts (particular talents distinctive to sure weapons) that fulfill totally different fight roles.
That stated, there are some points with the fight the place I discovered myself questioning why sure mechanics labored the best way they did. Stamina regeneration is halted when taking harm, making it extremely straightforward to be stunlocked to demise within the doubtless occasion you run out in fight. In an analogous vein, when you occur to be knocked skyward (and Mages will completely do that of their claustrophobic, final-fight arenas) there aren’t any i-frames stopping you from actually being juggled to demise. I had a number of deaths the place I took successful whereas at full well being and nonetheless ended up dying as a result of I by no means received the possibility to face again up and defend myself. This problem is compounded exponentially when you think about that some Mages routinely roam into areas which are already considerable with different foes, often whilst you’re attempting to struggle stated foes.
The enemies you’ll be preventing are a different lot, ranging out of your bog-standard gobbos and skellingtons all the best way to evil popes and dudes with human our bodies however, like, the top of a housefly. Once more, the artwork route actually shines right here, and I can not overstate how attention-grabbing and artistic the enemy designs are. It looks like the dev staff knew they’d hit it out of the park, as a result of they noticed match to incorporate a beautiful bestiary within the pause menu, cataloging each skellington scuppered and gobbo ganked. Every area has distinctive enemies that match with the regional theme, and even probably the most menial foes can deliver you down when you aren’t cautious. Once I wasn’t being chucked about like a ragdoll, I had a variety of enjoyable stabbing, slicing, and magicking them to demise.
Upon discovering a clue and initiating a Mage Hunt, a refined particle path will lead you to your quarry (the particles themselves change to mirror the ingredient of the Mage you’re pursuing; a neat and immersive contact). Mages have to be battled a handful of occasions throughout the extent earlier than you’ll be able to kill them correct, and through this roaming part they’ll spawn themed mobs earlier than working away to a brand new enviornment. Every area not solely has a set variety of Named Mages, who have to be defeated so as to break the magical seals that stop entry to sure places within the area, but additionally roaming Anonymous Mages who periodically spawn to shake issues up. The Anonymous Mages are largely helpful for farming elements and expertise, with some dropping distinctive gear.
Talking of elements, the crafting system in Salt And Sacrifice will, just like the weapon fashion, be very acquainted to any Monster Hunter followers. Mages and their mobs drop elements that can be utilized to create themed gear, granting elemental harm, resistances, and Runic Arts that mimic these of the Mage they had been created from. It may be a little bit of a slog looking for a particular kind of mage to get the elements you want, however you’ll get sufficient supplies simply from enjoying the sport that, when you ought to end up notably hooked up to a weapon or piece of armor, you’ll be able to frequently improve it to maintain tempo with the later, harder ranges.
The areas are quite giant, damaged up by underground areas and dungeons and the like. As in any metroidvania price its salt [pause for pity laughs] you’ll catch glimpses of out-of-reach areas to return to when you’ve gotten the required traversal gadgets. You’ll even be unlocking shortcuts, platforming, and stumbling into oh so many traps. The traps particularly are among the meanest I’ve but encountered in a sport, with lots of them being nigh invisible when you don’t know to count on them. I suppose they wouldn’t be excellent traps in the event that they had been signposted in vivid neon, however it hardly ever felt as if I stepped on a hidden one because of negligence versus trickery with darkness, shade palettes, or foreground objects obscuring my view of them.
Nonetheless, for all its quirks, Ska Studios have themselves a strong entry right here. I don’t suppose there have been many issues I encountered that couldn’t be patched out, and I had a variety of enjoyable with the sport regardless of some annoyances. If Salt And Sanctuary was Ska Studios sheepishly imitating a extra profitable components, then Salt And Sacrifice is them confidently discovering their stride. For a sport about tearing out hearts, it’s clearly had a variety of coronary heart put into it and Monster Hunter followers particularly shouldn’t cross this one up. Simply don’t count on perfection.