Salt and Sanctuary, as told by our own Tony Horvath, is a cool take on Dark Souls in the 2D front. The “genre” of Souls is growing and growing; hell, I’ve already written another preview for another Souls-like from this same convention just today. But Death’s Gambit, just like Necropolis, gets by with great use of style and just fantastic pixel art.
It’s a Metroidvania, in the style of something more along the lines of Symphony of the Night, just going off what I played. It’s 2D, it’s action, it’s attacks and support functions are mapped the the shoulder buttons, it’s familiar territory for anyone who has played a Souls game, or any action sidescroller from the past few years. Where the feel changes is the very heavy movement and attacks. You can combo moves together, sure, but between the stamina bar (which seems to be all but a given with these kinds of games now) and the very intentionally slow movement, there is a calculated feel to every attack that means you need to be determined of your actions before carelessly taking them.
Jumping between platforms and stabbing dudes to death willy nilly had me getting punished left and right with enemy attacks, arrow barrages, and big powerful super hits from the heavier hitters. Just like you, enemies tend to charge up or idle in their animations before delivering an attack, and just like you, those attacks hit really hard.
Something else cool was the bow that my stock demo character had mapped to the R2 button, which you could equip by holding the button, and aim around with the right analogue stick. Very twin-stick shooter esque, it allowed for more precise ranged attacks to the deadlier enemies. The pacing of combat just felt so much heavier and slower than any comparable game that the feel, as indescribably in this preview as it may be, was just right.
There were some light platforming sections that alluded to maybe the Metroidvania mechanics hinted at by the game’s description, like a grappling hook that made up my main mode of transportation. It seemed like maybe at some point there would be a wall jump, or some more vertical accessibility across the board, but hey, that’s just me speculating, because this is also one of those kinds of games. Death’s Gambit also leans heavily on the die and then leave all the currency you accrued (in this case, “hope”) on where you died, with the need to recover. But what you recover is a “feather”, and you use that very same feather as a type of healing magic, which functions as your only way to heal. It could play more into grinding up healing by repeating death, but it wasn’t a mechanic I could explore in the short demo.
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I like what Death’s Gambit is putting down; great pixel art, great feel, and a weight that is just unforgettable. More and more Metroidvania-Souls games are coming, and if they’re all up to this pedigree than I will continue to be excited. Adult Swim Games wasn’t ready to talk date at all, but it will release at some point on PS4 and Steam (simultaneously) day-and-date, and they’ll be talking release soon.