PAX 2015: Hands-On Salt and Sanctuary

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Salt and Sanctuary was the second 2D platforming adventure RPG that took heavy influence from Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls. The most obvious difference, that sets Salt and Sanctuary apart from other 2D Souls-like games, is the art style really gives you the same hazy bleak look and feel that the Souls games do.

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The first thing I noticed was how the game uses that parallax scrolling to enhance the effect of the 2D gameplay. There’s just something to that parallax effect that gets me excited to play a 2D game.

Another main thing that sets this game apart is its Sanctuary system. While I didn’t get a lot of time to explore how the Sanctuary system works, the way it was described to me seems very reminiscent of how Demon’s Souls had its Nexus area.

One pretty unique thing about the Sanctuary concept in the game was that it sounded like you could warp to different places via these guide stones (which reminds me of how Demon’s Souls had the arch stones in the Nexus that took you to the various levels). It was also explained to me that the Sanctuaries would be different depending on the creed of your character. In the game world, each creed keeps different gods, and this affects where the Sanctuaries are and their attributes in some way.

A key aspect of this game, that sets it apart, is that there is no map. Just like in the Souls games, you kind of have to explore and memorize where things are and find shortcuts to the various places. Your inventory in the game is unlimited, which I believe is similar to how the Souls games are (I think ninety-nine is the highest you can hold of certain things). Also, the gear that you equip reflects on your character’s appearance, which is really awesome for a 2D platformer.

I was told that there would be a multi-player aspect to the game, where you can leave messages to other players. However, one really neat thing that I learned is that you not only see gravestones of other players (similar to the blood stains in Dark Souls), but you’ll also see the corpses of other players. The enemies in this game stay dead, and there is also a New Game Plus feature.

 
As for the game’s story, it begins with your character failing a very tough mission and (s)he ends up on an mysterious island. It also turns out that your character is a galley chef for the ship and becomes the unwitting hero in the game.

One other big thing that the developer wanted to reiterate is the complexity of the character customization. You’ll be able to change your hair color, eye color, sex, and skin tone among other things.

In addition to the character customization, you will also be able to customize your sanctuary with different villagers. Apparently in the game, you will find special stones that, when placed on the alter in your sanctuary, will become villagers that stay in your sanctuary. These villagers will act as your blacksmith, alchemist, or other helper to aid you through your quest.

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Near the end of the demo and Q&A, the I was told that the inspiration for the game was Dark Souls and that it was mainly an experiment to see what it would be like to have a 2D Dark Souls. Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls are two of my favorite game from the PS3, and this game is super exciting for me.

I pretty much was able to watch people playing the demo right before my interview started, and I immediately knew that this game was trying to emulate the look and feel of Dark Souls in a 2D game—the developer’s design is just that good.

Salt and Sanctuary is a launch exclusive to PS4 and PS Vita, and will be coming to PC afterwards. The developer prefers to do cross-buy, but it’s not confirmed yet. I asked about cross-save capability, and it didn’t seem like a possibility. It’s also not clear if it will be PlayStation TV compatible. I did not get a target release window, but the game has been in development for two years, so hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on it soon.

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