Overall - 75%
Salt and Sacrifice has a lot going for it, but some bad design choices hold it back. I'd recommend watching some gameplay footage - especially of its bosses - before buying.
It’s been a little over six years since Ska Studios released Salt and Sanctuary, and now the sequel to their stylized 2D action RPG is finally here. Was Salt and Sacrifice worth the wait, or should you just stick to Elden Ring? Check out our review and find out.
Salt and Sacrifice Review
In interest of full disclosure, I didn’t play the original title.
At the start of Salt and Sacrifice, players pick a class and a crime they committed – the key reason you were about to be exiled from the kingdom. However, instead of being exiled, you choose to become an inquisitor. You go through what is known as the Magebane Rite, allowing you to hunt down mages. Unfortunately, you are attacked and almost die on your way to the inquisitor camp.
You wake up in Pardoner’s Vale, which is the inquisition camp. Due to the Magebane Rite, you are stuck in a limbo of sorts; neither living nor dead. This is how you can come back from the brink and keep fighting. After exploring the camp, you are sent to hunt some mages. There are other bosses as well, but you spent a lot of time trying to track down named mages.
The land all-around has been polluted by weird magic, and it has driven people mad. From the very start, players are fighting off ghouls, bats, and other abominations. While the combat is basic, you need to use it properly or get destroyed. You can dodge or block, and the dodge goes through enemies. You have light and heavy attacks, along with ranged weapons. Going in spamming attack isn’t going to end well. I would do a few hits, dodge, and then hit some more.
You need patience to excel at this game. Are you willing to hit the boss two or three times, dodge, heal, and repeat for 10 minutes? And, if you die, are you willing to trek back another 10 minutes to try again? My point is that if you aren’t great at these games, you will die a lot. Ranged weapons and magic help out with bosses, but their HP can be insanely high. Still it is very satisfying to defeat a boss for the first time.
On the flip side of this, some of the roaming mages are way too easy. When you face a mage, they tend to warp around the level for a bit while you hunt them. Then, after a certain amount of damage, they warp, and you repeat until you kill them or find their hiding spot. I like that the regular enemies and the mages don’t get along and will actively fight each other. You can use this to your advantage to get in free hits, extra loot, or just some EXP.
In Salt and Sacrifice, progression is handled by leveling up and upgrading equipment. The leveling system is sort of like the grid from Final Fantasy X or Path of Exile; you get 1 point per level, and you can spend it on your tree as you see fit. Eventually, things take two points, and so on. One annoying thing is that you need to learn how to use new weapons or advanced versions of your current weapons by buying the skill with points. So instead of needing like 15 strength, you need level three of great weapons. I’m not a fan, but I do like the skill tree.
While you are a mage hunter, the real reason you want to hunt them is for their parts. Mages have a lot of power on them, and bringing that back to the forge can result in new weapons, armor, and accessories. You’re going to be grinding for a while, but the ranked up weapons are the only way to progress. Doing ten damage against the third boss of an area simply won’t work unless you are very good. That and you need to change out armor for certain elements.
It reminds me a bit of Monster Hunter. You go hunt your creature and come back to forge a new weapon so you can go kill a bigger monster. Except here, it will be facing a lightning or ice mage. While I enjoyed that part of it, you will quickly be turned off if you don’t like grinding.
I did have some problems with it. I had a few crashes, but nothing major was lost – minus my time. The game can be also be cheap as hell. I went through a door once, and a mage was already dropping bubbles on me. The bubble exploded and launched me back through the door, and I fell to my death. I couldn’t see anything until I stepped out, and that’s how I died. That happened more than once, but with different creatures.
The biggest issue is how you are just tossed around after taking a hit from certain enemies. Bosses can be really bad for this. There are moments when I wonder if I’ve started playing Street Fighter with the amount of time I spent in the air being juggled. It feels cheap, like a boss who restores their HP after a cutscene. Developers need to look at things like this and ask if this is fun or just annoying; I truly believe there is nothing fun about it.
Salt and Sacrifice has a lot going for it, but some bad design choices hold it back. I’d recommend watching some gameplay footage – especially of its bosses – before buying.
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