Salt and Sanctuary is a beloved 2D souls-like boasting intense combat design and excellent player agency that grew a sizeable fanbase. Now, the upcoming release of its sequel, Salt and Sacrifice, has released a beta to grant intrigued players a hands-on idea of what to expect. After a few hours with it, I’ve grown even more thrilled for this sequel, as it’s aiming to simply provide more of what made the first game so addictive.
When beginning Salt and Sacrifice, players create their own nameable character alongside a chosen class, crime, and several cosmetic factors. Due to the presentation, the change in the playable character’s appearance doesn’t really mean all that much, but the option to alter many facets is still appreciated. Afterward, it is revealed that the main character is condemned for the crime you chose prior, and to circumvent the fate of permanent imprisonment, they became a Marked Inquisitor: those who live solely to eliminate Mages.
Aside from this provided premise and available NPC dialogue, players gain a better sense of the world’s hostile atmosphere via good old exploration. With this being a souls-like, patience is a prominent factor that must be embraced tenfold, and the combat blatantly highlights this necessity. Animation lag must be mindfully considered since even standard mobs can decimate you. Those who lack experience with the first entry, let alone the genre, will be in for a rude awakening at the outset. Still, this required consideration results in consistently cathartic victories, which are only enhanced by the simple, but effective exploration. While the available areas lack apparent complexity, a few instances of required platforming and split paths grant a greater sense of earned progress that permeates the experience.
Bosses are expectedly gargantuan, yet, at least at the beginning, they’re relatively elementary. Their telegraphs and openings are immensely evident, so the more significant challenge I found myself facing was learning the intricacies of my character’s animation lag with attacking and dodging. Most of my deaths resulted from this lack of knowledge on my part, so players should ideally spend some time playing around with every bit of movement possible, so enemies don’t alert you of vulnerabilities you were previously unaware of. The Mages you hunt are where your necessity for combat understanding is readily needed since they’re easily the toughest part of the game.
Reaching the Mages is akin to a hunt, though, as you’ll have to track them down previously explored roads teeming with other potential enemies. It’s certainly a trip, and how one reacts to these difficult trials will determine their aptitude and compatibility with the game as a whole. Personally, my time with Salt and Sacrifice felt like a more ambitious iteration of Salt and Sanctuary, where the Mage hunts and builds are more thought-provoking than ever before. The point is, if you’re a fan of the first entry, there’s no doubt you’ll derive a similar sense of joy from this sequel, and I’m likely equally as excited for its full release as you are.
Salt and Sacrifice is releasing for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC on May 10, 2022.
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