Salt and Sacrifice is the sequel to 2016’s Salt and Sanctuary, a souls-like game that checked off most of the boxes for me at the time. It had that tough yet fair difficulty, challenging combat, intense boss fights, and a whole world open for you to explore. Salt and Sacrifice brings more of the same with new additions that keep the formula fresh in the genre.
Being from Ska Studios, there is an expectation of how this game will look and how it will play, just as Salt and Sanctuary did. Comparatively, there isn’t much that has changed between the two games; overall, this is a good thing. The Ska Studio’s brand of hand-drawn gloom is still present, and the boss and monster designs eerily fit the game’s atmosphere. Additionally, the game’s combat is still on point. Tight responsiveness and strict stamina keep your flow in a rhythm rather than mashing on those buttons. As with the first game, each encounter felt doable. If an enemy had slain me, it was because of a mistake I made. Attacking too soon when I know I can only get a few attacks in before they attack will always be my downfall in souls-like games.
Salt and Sacrifice includes a wide berth of options for customizability to assist in your combat. From armor to weapons, you can kit out your player to fit your combative style. Go tank, go light; however you play. With around five separate zones and various enemies to encounter in this game, you may want to change your style midway through, and that’s ok!
As I mentioned, there are zones in Salt and Sacrifice, a slight change over Salt and Sanctuary. Where Sanctuary had a more souls-like or search-action open world, Sacrifice tightens things up by giving you five large zones to explore. These zones aren’t just wide either; they expand in all directions, so be prepared to explore this 2D world vertically and horizontally. It’s a nice change, but without adding a map to know where you’re going, it’s quite easy to get disoriented. You can find checkpoint obelisks throughout each zone to give you respawn points and restock your provisions, but as with any souls-like, they will also restore all the enemies on the stage, so there is that give or take to consider. One of my gripes, though, is that you cannot fast travel between your main camp and these obelisks. There is a lot of backtracking, and they are not what I would call enjoyable in these scenarios.
Thankfully these levels are quite a treat to explore when you’re not having to hoof it back and forth between the same two areas. Each zone is distinct from one another with a slew of variety. From level layout to enemy deployment, I enjoyed just taking everything in. That isn’t to forget that there are countless treasures to find and NPCs to talk to that may unlock additional functions down the road.
Besides your memory, the only barriers to exploring each zone are gated doors requiring specific items to open. These items are referred to as Mage Hearts, and to earn them, you must engage in hunting down Mages. These battles can be exhausting as they have you move about all over the map, chasing the Mage and attacking in short bursts. After a while, it’ll make its way to a standard boss arena, where you can just focus on battle instead of traversal.
The Mages not only drop these hearts, but they will also randomly drop unique craftable weapons and armor sets for your character. Those weapons typically also come with unique skills that you won’t find on any other weapon in the game. So other than needing those hearts, farming these Mages also help you out in combat. This is just one facet of your character build, though. The salt you collect in the game can be used to upgrade a deep skill tree.
There are multiplayer aspects to Salt and Sacrifice, especially what sounds like a fun co-op experience, but at the time of review, I hadn’t been able to dive into that mode.
Salt and Sacrifice is a worthwhile sequel to Salt and Sanctuary. Where it does more of the same, it does so where it needs to and where it freshens things up, like the map change, it does it well. I still wish I had access to an inworld map, though. If you’re looking for a new souls-like to get into after something like an Elden Ring, I can’t see you going wrong with this one.
An Epic Games Store code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes