Salt and Sacrifice review (PS5)

The eagerly anticipated Salt and Sacrifice has launched for both PC and PlayStation – we tested the PlayStation 5 version.

Salt and Sacrifice is, of course, the follow-up to the runaway indie success story that was Salt and Sanctuary. It launched back in 2016, and over the next three years it received versions for every major system out there – including niche platforms like the PlayStation Vita, where it’s still one of the best received games of the past five years. Its 2D action RPG-take on the Souls-like genre was a hit, so anticipation was high for the Ska Studios’ next game.

As you probably inferred from the similarity in the title, Salt and Sacrifice stays true to the Souls-like influences that shaped its predecessor. It’s not a direct sequel though, and instead presents you with a new premise. You pick a character class, and to show that you’re not a traditional hero you also choose a crime that you’re associated with. But rather than the usual punishment of exile, you get to be an inquisitor, chasing down mages. A strange ritual places you on the brink of life and death as well – so cue a cycle of death, retries and grinding. Beginning to sound like a Souls-like?

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Magic and other fantasy elements feature prominently in this shadowy world, which is filled with ghouls and other scary creatures. You’ll regularly face them in combat, which has all the trappings of a Souls-like title with its emphasis on dodging, blocking, striking and getting out of the way to recover. You can chip down an opponent’s health by attacking them from range as well, and if you have access to it you can also employ magic attacks. Or better yet, have enemies fight amongst themselves for a bit, as the mages you’re hunting appear to not get along with anyone.

Bosses are especially challenging, but almost frustratingly so at time, which big spikes in difficulty and a few cheap deaths that can definitely annoy you as a player. Sure, any Souls-like game is going to have bosses that seem insurmountable at first, but an attack that you don’t even see coming and then turns into a seemingly unbreakable combo (or a fall to your death) isn’t anyone’s idea of a tough but fair challenge.

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Other enemies, including some of the mages, are much easier to handle though, so grinding your way to getting stronger definitely isn’t too rough once you get comfortable with the main controls and mechanics – which shouldn’t take long if you played the previous game. Beat enough of them, and you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons and gear to higher levels – thus improving your odds in battle. Obviously, mages are going to give you larger rewards, so it’s a good idea to stay on track with mage hunts if it’s a big boss you’re trying to tackle through upgrades.

Aside from a few frustrating boss moments, platforming and combat are excellent, and for a super small team like Ska Studios this is a beautiful looking indie game. If you enjoyed Salt and Sanctuary, you’ll have a great time with this as well. If you haven’t played either game from the studio yet, then what are you waiting for?

Score: 8.0/10

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