Salt Your Wounds Inquisitor
By Eric, Getty, Gettinger
The long awaited sequel to Salt and Sacrifice has arrived with some welcome twists on the original recipe. Those not familiar with the original need to know that this is a 2d souls game where defeating enemies will grant salt used to level your character up. Leveling however only grants small boosts as the main character enhancements come from the sprawling skill tree adding to the customization. The crafting and enhancement systems have received an overhaul as completing the optional side contant will give you the much needed items to prepare your inquisitor for the horrors lurking around every corner. This new entry into the world of Salt stays true to the original while adding more bosses and monsters for you to hunt and conquer.
Salt and Sanctuary opens with a chase and followed by the all important death, because in order to progress you must first be defeated. Following a different pattern from the first you are dropped in Pardoner’s Camp where there are other outcasts. Where in the Salt and Sacrifice you would travel from point to point across a large map instead set up base and travel to different locales through a gateway. Getting access to the different areas requires a dive into the new hunt mechanic which will follow shortly. Exploring the new zones can help you bring new companions back to camp. It’s recommended to do so as the items or unlockables they possess help your inquisitor in their trials.
The core combat has not changed coming into the sequel, but the rogue gallery has gotten some terrifying upgrades. In each of the areas you will face general monsters ranging in difficulty but defeating them for that tasty salt. There are boss fights in each zone that you need to complete but mages and mage hunts add a spice to Salt and Sanctuary. Mages are powerful mini bosses who will either appear out in the wild or they will be a named mage. As you encounter a mage they are physically large, can teleport around the map, and summon endless enemies while attacking you. A random mage can be killed by chasing it around and slowly (at first) damaging it. The named mages also require you to damage them and chase them until you get to a locked area. In the locked area it’s kill or be killed but defeating mage gives you the very slick option to consume their heart. By consuming a heart you gain access to locked doors in the map. Of course you will know how many you need to beat as the doors tell you bluntly “eat three named mage hearts”.
By defeating mages and their summoned minions you will obtain crafting materials to make or upgrade gear. One of the more entertaining aspects in Salt and Sanctuary is mixing and matching attire to make your inquisitor look how you want. Farming materials on the other hand is time consuming as the mages constantly run away from you. If you have the patience and can get some lucky drops you may be able to upgrade quickly. Otherwise to get an ice or fire weapon set you could find yourself scrambling around to find the mage with those materials. The mages themselves can be difficult so it can come down to a battle of wills when you invest time hunting one down versus trying to complete a goal to move on. If you stick with it though the amount of salt you can collect will give you a foot up in the long run.
Now that you have collected all this salt you need to locate the shrine. While Salt and Sacrifice allows you to level up in any of the save areas, Sanctuary requires a trip back to Pardoner’s Camp. It also wasn’t abundantly clear but the shrine to offer salt is located at the very top of the camp. Spending salt is straightforward and offers as much as it requires to gain a level and you will get small boosts to some of the stats but also unlock skill orbs (grey and black). Grey orbs allow for the purchase of enhancements to any of the key character stats which are strength, dexterity, endurance, willpower, wisdom, magic.Black orbs let you refund a skill. The most important feature of the skill tree are the gear nodes which give the ability to equip higher tier items. Even if you have a tier two or three piece of armor in your inventory you need to get the skill unlocked first.
Salt and Sanctuary is a solid offering to the souls genre as well as the series as it builds on systems that work. While tedious and repetitive at times the amount of gear and customization that you can take part in offers a unique experience each time you play. If you don’t like the build you started there are plenty of options to go back and try. Most of the mages are not very punishing but zone bosses can feel overly difficult or too easy depending on your gear and leveling. Having played both games in the Salt series I recommend it to new and returning players. If you are not as savvy with souls games don’t worry as the pace allows for you to spend as much time exploring and gaining levels as you need.