This is my second run into the world of sorrow, a land filled with pounds of light salt. Salt and Sanctuary is a special kind of darkness which presents the style of Dark Souls, but in a 2D platformer format. I am quite a fan of the studio's past titles and this one is an extra level of difficulty. Not only will you face many grueling bosses, but literally anything that you pass by could kill you at any given time. I personally enjoy cinematic and narrative experiences, but I do appreciate the type of games that like to present difficulty. I know there's an audience for this sort of thing. I respect this aspect which is why I'm not holding anything against this title when it comes to how personally frustrating it's to play.
The tale start off with the customization of your character and then a class choice, from there you're moving along in a rocking ship. Everything goes wrong and you're cast off onto this beach that's covered with a thick fog. Moving through this twisted landscape you're met with groupings of weaker enemies, holy sites to practice your chosen religion and many boss battles which provide punishment. Despite being a flat world, the area is fully open for exploration. This includes climbing areas or going low through various creepy dungeon sections which are diverted in clever ways.
Towards the end, or well funnel of an area there will be a boss battle of sorts. These creatures are powerful, they require a balance of stamina and focus in order for you to survive. It may take a number of tries, or you may get the right stride going on. I also wanted to add that the game supports local multiplayer if players would like to play together.
Salt and Sanctuary looks distinctly stunning, as with their past titles it carries a sorrowing deathly grey look. There are hints of color as you venture throughout the world, this helps make the gorgeous smaller details stand out further. There are bits of ash that fall from the sky as you prance around slashing through foes and seeing their pieces fall apart. I really love the visual style in this, you can clearly tell it's from the group. Being a RPG focused title it has a deep offering including skills, levels and items to collect. The skill tree branches out quite far offering a number of options to further buld your strength. I should mention that this isn't enhanced.
Improving upon your character is essential and this is done by harnessing salt which is the lifeblood of the game. Everything you vanquish gives you salt by conquering them, there are sacks of salt lying all around. When your life is taken, salt is given to the monsters that slay you. This creates a sort of nemesis system as you need salt to level or upgrade weapons and you seek these creatures to get that salt back. There are a ton of weapons with special abilities and random items to assist in combat. These are managed in a great mini choose system and it's essential to balance it, the pumpkin head is a fun one.
Salt and Sanctuary is just simply a stunning experience, it's a bit difficult yet very rewarding. Being an individual that favors narrative driven experiences and more calming times, this was frustrating. It did feel incredibly great when I was able to eliminate the bosses that previously stood in my way. It was also quite special to go and switch religions, pray on alters to level or gather merchants around.
The amount of depth present was excellent with well crafted RPG mechanics and a solid stamina movement system. It was charming to revisit and see this open world. Despite it being flat, there were so many areas to explore and battle within. The environments were gorgeous being full of dark tones, particle effects floating in the air at most times and very dense areas to visit. Salt and Sanctuary perfects the essence of death, light and ultimately triumph if you have the strength to progress.
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Salt and Sanctuary Review on Xbox One X
Review Code Provided by Stride PR