Salt and Sacrifice is the sequel to Salt and Sanctuary, the action RPG that many described as a 2D take on the Dark Souls formula. Screen Rant had the chance to play the Salt & Sacrifice multiplayer beta and it improves upon many aspects of the original game, as well as dipping its toes even further into Dark Souls’ design with invasions.
The story of Salt and Sacrifice begins with the player creating a character from a selection of classes and aesthetic elements. The player must select a “Crime”, which also determines one of the items they start with, such as Arson providing firebombs. The crime is used as the reason for the player character being banished from the realm and transformed into a Marked Inquisitor, whose goal is to hunt Mages who illegally practice magic in the wild frontier. The player character was forced to drink a substance called Magebane, allowing them to rise from the dead in order to continue their mission.
The gameplay in the Salt and Sacrifice beta is much the same as it was in Salt and Sanctuary, with the player fighting monsters using weapon or spell attacks that are tied to a stamina meter, which is also used for dodging and as a stagger meter. The visuals in the game are noticeably improved, with more vibrant colors and prettier lighting, which is in stark contrast to the dull greys and browns that made up the world of Salt and Sanctuary. Salt and Sacrifice follows Halo Infinite‘s lead by adding a grappling hook, which is found after defeating the first boss. The grappling hook can be used at designated points to reach higher platforms, adding some welcome verticality to the stages.
The big new addition to Salt and Sacrifice is the upgraded multiplayer component. Salt and Sanctuary had local co-op on most platforms, but online elements were needlessly complicated. The beta of Salt and Sacrifice featured items that allowed the player to access PvP and PvE elements. It’s now possible for players to take on the game via online co-op with friends or strangers by using a single item, which will call them into the host player’s game. There is also a passcode system for those who don’t want to risk inviting random people into their game. layers can turn into Elden Ring-style invaders and hunt down other players in their own world with PvP. These are a huge improvement to the overall experience – especially the ability to call in help during tricky boss fights. It’s unclear how easily these elements can be used in the full game, as the beta stocks the player up with multiplayer items from the get-go.
The hunt for the Mages is a major part of Salt and Sacrifice, and accepting a quest to take one on will cause an energy trail to appear in the direction of the prey. What’s unique about the Mage battles is that regular monsters will attack and damage them, reducing their health bar for the final confrontation. The player must chase the Mage from location to location, surviving its counterattacks and summoned monsters, before it finally settles down for a boss battle. Mages use incredibly powerful spells with large AoEs, so the player needs to be on their toes and ready to dodge at a moment’s notice. There are great rewards for killing the Mages, as they drop lots of useful items that can be used for upgrading gear. In the beta, the player needs to kill Mages in order to be allowed into new areas, turning them into progression gates of a sort.
Salt and Sacrifice does contain some of the more frustrating parts of Salt and Sanctuary’s gameplay. The biggest issue with the game is still stunlocking, as the 2D perspective limits the amount of room that the player can dodge or maneuver, allowing enemies to easily trap the player character in a cycle of stun hits, leading to their demise. Another frustrating aspect of the combat that needs to be dealt with is ledges, as the player is vulnerable while climbing onto a platform, allowing enemies to instantly hit them while climbing up and forcing them to drop. A Super Smash Bros.-style ledge roll that provides some invulnerability frames while climbing a ledge would go a long way to offset this issue.
On the surface, Salt and Sacrifice might not seem hugely different compared to its predecessor, but the implementation of multiplayer adds a lot more tension to the game for those seeking more difficult encounters – and offers some extra help for those getting crushed by a particularly annoying boss. The upgraded visuals and grappling hook are nice additions to the game and they are a step up from Salt and Sanctuary, but it’s the multiplayer aspect that’s really going to make the hunt for the Mages more exciting.
Salt and Sacrifice will be released for PC, PS4, and PS5 on May 10, 2022.
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