Salt and Sanctuary is a difficult by design 2D platforming RPG, falling in line mostly with the metroidvania genre.
This is a dark and brutal game that has many similarities to the Dark Souls series of games. It features difficult combat that utilizes rolling to get out of enemies ways as well as large boss fights that can take up whole stages. It's set in a dark and grim world that sees the player battling their way through the forgotten nightmares of man.
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Pro Deep combat
While this is a 2D platforming game, the combat is actually quite diverse, depending on what equipment one is using (and there is quite a lot of equipment). Players have a light and hard attack that each can be charged. They can also be combined to create combos, with some that may even result in some juggling of enemies. Being that this is in 2D, the controls for the combat is quite responsive and there is a good bit of verticality (since there is no third plane to worry about) thanks to the level layout and jump mechanics. All of this combines to make for some deep combat that is enjoyable through customization, speed and level design.
Pro Risk reward gameplay
The player throughout the game is always earning salt when defeating enemies. This salt is used to purchase upgrades and items in the game, so the more you have the more you can purchase. The thing is though that you can lose all of the salt you have collected if you die, and being that this is a difficult game, you will die a lot. The risk reward mechanic in this that you can either push on with low health, venturing into the unknown and possible death, but if you die, you will lose your money. This choice can be tough to make, but will constantly be on your mind, which elevates the risk of play.
Pro Great difficulty mechanics
If you're struggling to get past a certain area or boss you can simply grind out levels or upgrades in the previous areas until you are able to proceed. This works due to enemies being the same level no matter what your level is.
Pro Exploration based gameplay
The player does not start with much in items or story. It is up to the player to explore and figure out little by little what is going on in the game. This makes for an adventure that the player can be immersed in by filling in any gaps with their own imagination, which in turn allows the player to be invested.
Pro Huge selection of upgrades
The player earns salt by killing enemies in the game. This salt can then be used to purchase upgrades and new abilities for their character on a large spherical grid. This grid has many branching paths that cover just about any skill or ability one can think of for a dark fantasy game. Want to branch off into magical abilities, you are free to do so. Similarly, you can branch off into more of a fighter build. You can even create a hybrid build of fighting and magic to suit you. There is no limit to the choices you can make, which allows for a game that is highly customizable to fit anyone's playstyle.
Pro Interesting perk mechanic
There is a feature in the game called "creeds" that allows on to sign up for one creed at a time. These creeds will give you access to certain specific perks such as building out their sanctuary (of which each creed has one) where you can customize vendors of items, find new quest givers and access fast travel points. All of this offers a level of customization that can give the player advantages in the game.
Pro Good use of metroidvania level design
Metroidvania genre games tend to lock portions of the game behind elements that can not be traversed until a certain item or skill is earned. This makes for a world that requires a lot of backtracking and familiarity, meaning the player needs to keep track of all the areas they have already explored. Once a certain item or skill is found that will allow the player to get past what was once a road block, new areas can then be explored and the story can be advanced. The mechanic of this used to be to save space while elongating a game, but now is used as a way to get the player to feel connected and familiar with the world. There is also a pleasure to be found once new areas can be unlocked as it gives a sense of satisfaction that you are progressing past a point that you never knew when it would be unlocked.
Con Difficult to know where you are
There is no map in the game, which is exacerbated by the fact that this is a 2D title. In 2D there is basically no way to tell where you are in relation to where you want to go other than from memory. This can be troublesome if it has been a few days since you last played, as you now need to remember where you need to go and where you have been and how that all relates to where you are now, all without being able to see anything other than what is immediately in front of you on the screen.
Con May be too niche
The setting of the game is quite dark and may be draining to spend any significant amount of time in the world. The gameplay itself can be quite difficult as well, which means this may not be the game for everyone.