Salt and Sacrifice is a 2D Soulslike by Devoured Studios. You play as a new Inquisitor banished to kill mages as punishment for your crimes.
As in most Soulslikes, you explore places filled with traps, enemies, and doors locked from one side in order to find and defeat bosses, which progresses the game. If you die, you’ll drop Salt, the game’s currency for leveling up, and can retrieve it like in other Soulslikes.
Jumping is integral to platforming around the world, and unlockable platforming abilities provides access to new areas like in a Metroidvania. Overall, the platforming is fine, but feels sluggish due to every jump requiring a clamber animation on the platform above you. You are invincible during the clamber, but enemies will still ready attacks against you in the interim, meaning that you have barely enough time to block or roll. Since many platforms are small, if you roll or get hit, you’ll fall off, and because many platforms are high up, you’ll often die if you fall.
Meanwhile, blocking allows enemies a guaranteed second hit on your block if they attack quickly enough, and more difficult enemies like bosses will hit you with a flurry of projectiles or swipes. If you run out of stamina while blocking, you’re left stunned. Some attacks also bounce you, which leaves you vulnerable to extra attacks as long as you’re kept in the air. This means you’ll just die if you block in many situations. Even on small platforms, you’re better off rolling. It’s not even a good idea to jump during battle, since you can’t block or roll and leave yourself open to more hits.
Attacking, on the other hand, features a standard light and heavy attack system, with a small variety of weapons, a couple of which feel distinct. When you’re allowed to attack, the game often devolves into spamming the light attack button, but it’s still satisfying.
Boss fights are particularly irritating due to their frequent use of both projectile barrages that can’t be blocked or they’ll kill, and close-up attacks that bounce you into an insta-kill combo. Often, attacks are poorly telegraphed, and the arenas for fighting bosses are tiny and stop you from dodging adequately. Oh, and a second boss can appear for no reason and make it impossible to dodge both.
The item system is also terrible. Healing flasks are replenished at each bonfire equivalent, but you need a crafting resource to actually make the flasks. If you die to a boss too many times, you’ll have to grind for health items like you’re playing Demon’s Souls and get a few flasks like it’s Dark Souls for the worst of both worlds.
There’s also a lack of meaningful tutorials to go with the game’s convoluted crafting and leveling systems. It’s even often unclear where you’re supposed to go, and it can take far too long to find the way forward.
Soulslikes are frustrating, but the frustration is supposed to be balanced by the feeling that mistakes are your fault, that most deaths are fair, and that beating a tough challenge is cathartic. Salt and Sacrifice is just frustrating. The most frequent thing I said while playing was, “Oh, come on!” except with more swearing.
The art and animation have a nice hand-drawn style and are great except when it’s too dark or cluttered to see what’s happening. The music didn’t stand out to me as good or bad, and the story is barely worth mentioning because it’s not interesting.
Ultimately, it’s entirely possible that, if you play this game with a guide, take breaks when you feel annoyed, play co-op with a friend, and aren’t bothered by the poor exploration and hunts, you’d have a good time with the decent core combat. However, my experience with the game was mostly negative, and I can’t recommend it based on how bored and frustrated I was while playing.
Salt and Sacrifice is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Epic Games Store for $19.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Salt and Sacrifice.