Ever heard the phrase “One Dollar, One Hour?” It’s a phrase often thrown around when trying to justify a purchase of a cheaper game; sometimes used to try to feel better about a game’s length being too short, or just shorter than expected. I don’t typically agree with such assessments, so I’d like to try something different. It’s called “One Dollar, One Sentence.” I’ll take a game I’ve played and write something akin to a review, but in an amount of sentences equal to the game’s dollar price at full retail. Expect anything from a five dollar indie game to a full $60 release. Let’s get started with a game I picked up earlier this week.
Salt and Sanctuary – PS4 – $17.99 (Playstation Store)
Salt and Sanctuary, the newest release from Ska Studios, is a 2D action platformer that borrows heavily from the concepts and design motifs of the popular Souls game series developed by From Software. It aims to deliver an experience very similar to the traditional Souls game, driving a heavy risk and return factor in everything you do. Enemies will chunk your health bar down to nothing in seconds if you’re not careful, and any one of the game’s plethora of bosses can and will give you a really bad time if you don’t respect them.
You earn salt from defeated enemies, functioning in the same way the souls or blood echoes in From Software’s games, as well as gold. You can use salt to level up your character, trading increasing amounts of the resource to your chosen deity for a consumable item that lets you assign a single skill point on the game’s Final Fantasy-esque ‘sphere grid’ that they call the Tree of Skill. You choose from a few weapon proficiencies and build towards higher levels of skill along a giant branching path, eventually allowing you to equip the most powerful versions of your chosen instrument of slaughter. Interestingly enough, you only find a few basic versions of any weapon along the way. Instead, you use materials dropped from the game’s bosses to transmute your weapon into more powerful versions of itself.
You proceed along a story only slightly less cryptic than the Bloodborne story, meeting various NPCs along the way. Some of them eventually give you a few additional skills called Brands that augment your ability to move around the world, allowing you access to new areas in doing so. It brings a really unique MetroidVania feeling to the gameplay, adding a wall jump and an air dash among other things. Platforming is always a factor, but is seldom one that distracts you from the gameplay. When it does become the focus, it can get really creative and make you feel like a badass employing all of your hard-won brands to conquer the challenge.
The game is not without its faults, though. Some of the later sections feel just a little too spread apart, leaving the player to make endless leaps into thin air hoping an off-screen platform will catch them before they fall to their death. I also found myself hopelessly lost heading into the last quarter of the game and spent a couple hours running around before I was able to figure out where I was supposed to go next.
In summary, if you enjoy the Souls series and Bloodborne as much as I do, look no further. Salt and Sanctuary is the perfect game to tide you over until the release of Dark Souls III in early April.