Salt and Sanctuary: The Knee-Jerk Reaction

Aesthetically Salt and Sanctuary is moving a hand-drawn, paper cut-out through a 2-Dimensional, side-scrolling world made out of paper cut-outs with foreground and back-drops that statically move by as you explore. It’s a moody and dark, Emo Southpark.

Gameplay immediately feels like level design and enemy placement were taken into consideration. It’s a platformer in an original Castlevania kind of way with more fluid controls and surprise-death moments that could be overcome. S&S also apologizes for the surprise-deaths by allowing you to collect Dust in your journey to be spent at your Sanctuary to level-up and build your character.

There’s a huge skill-tree that I didn’t dig into within 10 minutes of game time. You can bash and slash barrels furniture, barrels and more to find stuff and things. Attacks and skills are well-implemented through the use of simple button combos.

I think it’s a well-built game that shows thoughtfulness in levels that can be explored, backtracked through and rewards for looking around. Perhaps the most important take-aways for me are that this is firstly not a fantastically innovative game. It’s a game that feels like it looked to a lot of older, retro side scrollers and implemented basics well. I’m not a huge fan of the paper cut-out art style, but the game was playing well for me. Variance, challenge, options and layers of gameplay all felt like it came together to the point one doesn’t even know they are all there.

It’s a decent recipe and feels like a good game. I want to hedge my bets a little — having only played for 10 minutes. I’m not overly smitten with any of the hype or small Dark Souls flavored twists and gameplay. In fact, I feel this is on one hand simply an example of a good sides scrolling platformer with decent production value(sans the slightly “childish” hand drawn artwork in the game graphics). But, it’s also just a side scrolling platformer.

It’s a good game. If you’re a fan of the original Castlevania games or want to play a generally well-built side scrolling RPG, I recommend it. If you don’t particularly care for Southpark animation stylings or side scrolling games, you might still find something in the character growth and skill tree. Otherwise, you’ll want to think about if you’d really like this type of a game.

For what it is, I applaud more of the unseen — the fact it feels like care was put into programming and balancing the game. In part the strictly exploration and dust-collecting aspect of S&S reminds me of moving through a level of Valkyrie Profile — sans every other aspect of Valkerie Profile.

I want to be hard on this game for the mainstream focus it will likely get, but applaud it for being an example of a good game that thinks about much more than what players see. Timing, jumps, enemy placement, walking-speed and difficulty growth among other aspects feel like they were all thought about how they’d play-out separately and together.

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Jeremy Stratton

Jeremy Stratton

Jeremy's lived long enough to see his favorite games making a comeback in High Definition and Indie games with old-school ideals. He also loves cooking and photography.