Halls and Sanctuaries, this is the recipe of the guys of SKA Studios for a complex and deep Indie, relying on the solid style of the Souls already abused a lot in this last period, will they have done a noteworthy job? Let's see it together!
Is this Dark Souls?
A dark world where we will take on the role of the hero, our mission is to save the princess by breaking down all the obstacles that will appear in front of us; describing it like this seems almost a mixture of genres and stories, probably it is, but it is a successful mix capable of creating a spectacular setting with the same tension on it as when playing a Dark Souls (even the presence of sanctuaries treated as bonfires is a mechanic very similar to the From Software saga). Precisely on this I want to focus, Salt and Sanctuary is probably one of the best "Souls Like" released, the one that comes closest to the "original" product, that same sense of disorientation is present right away, pushing us to explore every single cave even more times, with death always lurking whenever we meet an enemy and this brings only trouble, in fact at each death we will lose a percentage of gold, payment due to a mysterious cleric ready to revive us, in addition to all the Salt we have, but at least this is potentially recoverable by knocking down the one who defeated us the previous time.
The high number of deaths is given by the high difficulty of the title, even fans of the genre could have serious difficulties in the early stages of the game and beyond, especially to adapt to a 2D setting that does not allow a large number of escape routes. , making us feel very often cornered, but that's just a good thing, because that's exactly the level of challenge that those who go to buy games of this type are looking for.
Another absolutely positive mention is made for the level design, simply grandiose, very similar to the inspiration seen in the first Dark Souls with a world always on the subject, but at the same time different in every facet, with a great value simply called connection. The whole map is connected with an immense number of shortcuts that can be found in the continuation of the story, I do not hide the joy in my eyes at each of their discoveries, it is a stylistic choice that manages to immerse us more and more in the atmosphere of the title, heartfelt congratulations to the developers for this.
Pad in hand
It's time to talk about the most awaited topic, namely the gameplay; also on this factor I have only positive comments that go through my head, very reactive and fluid without many particular defects, combining the action mechanics of the Souls to the style closest to 2D platformers for the exploratory side of the map, the whole of which creates a something unique and extremely inspired.
Even the animations are fluid and never inaccurate, except in the specific case of the rolls, this in the end is the only flaw of such an incredibly solid system; being a two-dimensional production it is objectively difficult to find the right middle way to dodge the opponent's attacks, especially if you want to pass over the enemy by rolling, this inaccuracy leads in the end to face the battles based not so much on this, at least not during the Boss Fight.
The Boss Fight are another topic that arouses interest and curiosity, their realization is excellent from all points of view, with Boss strong, but having weaknesses and never invulnerable, in addition often and willingly wandering carefully in the areas before the decisive fight we will find incredibly useful objects, very inspired and difficult, but above all all different from each other, this is certainly an extra point for those who do not appreciate the ancient art of recycling.
Another influential fact to the entire game system is the management of the character, here too we see yet another interesting mix, in fact we pass from a very similar structure, not to say specular, to Dark Souls, with a number of objects that can be used quickly, slot of weapons, accessories (mostly rings) and clothing, but there is not only this, we also have a unique power-up system, very similar more to an RPG like Final Fantasy, for its branched structure to spheres (very similar to Final Fantasy X specifically), with much greater customization possibilities than any other game of this type.
An inspired design
I think the title of this section already summarizes everything that can be said for the technical sector, a graphic level of impact with beautiful particle effects, perhaps the only flaw is for the appearance of the characters, specifically the faces even if very probably it is a style expressly wanted by the developers, but it clashes with the rest of the setting and it is a real shame, because with each new area explored it is almost impossible not to stop and see the atmosphere with satisfaction, truly an exceptional job.
More or less similar quality for the sound, really beautiful audio tracks both in exploration and in the most heated battles, but not everything is rosy, in fact another technical aspect in our transposition is comically below expectations: the Italian translation. For those who already know something about it, they will probably be laughing right now, because this is what arouses the Italian conversion of the texts, big and thunderous laughter for a series of dialogues without rhyme or reason, where understanding the meaning is a much more difficult undertaking than ending. the blindfolded game, very plausibly its realization was carried out with an automatic translator, it is the only explanation I can give myself and I sincerely hope it went like this, in any case it is a great disappointment to see a title so well done with atrocious details neglected, it was certainly best to leave it only in the original language at this point.
In conclusion it can be said that Salt and Sactuary is an excellent title from every point of view, with an inspired design and a myriad of good ideas that help to elevate it above the mass of Souls Like, certainly not flawed as listed above, but they are ultimately of little consequence compared to the general quality level, so I strongly recommend it to those who love this genre of games or even just to those looking for a high level of challenge.