2D Souls-y Stab-o-Platforming: Salt & Sanctuary

Umami games.

We skipped over Salt & Sanctuary when it was announced at a PlayStation event last year, but now I’ve seen a swish video demonstrating its 2D take on Dark Souls-y monster-mashing, I’ve gone back and noticed oh! It’s coming to PC too! That’s welcome news, as it seems to smoosh Souls ideas of careful combat, risk management, and needing to pay attention oh no that’s a trap you fool why didn’t you see it? into 2D platform-o-exploring quite nicely. Come see.

What brought this to my attention was a video of ‘VaatiVidya’, the Souls fan behind the ‘Prepare to Cry’ lore ’em up videos, playing Salt & Sanctuary. Seeing someone who likes Souls so much take such a shine to it, still with a critical eye, is pleasing. Here, watch:

I’m not saying it’s ‘a 2D Dark Souls’, mind, because I’d sooner cut off my fingers than make such a crude generalisation about a series that’s fascinating in so many ways. But I do like how it takes Souls-y bits into a different game and does its own thing with them. The idea of dying not only leaving a chunk of XP out in the world I need to find and regain, but actually infusing that power into an enemy who’ll be even tougher to bash it out of, is delightful and horrible.

Salt & Sanctuary is due on PlayThings this year; Ska have said the PC release will come afterwards, but are a bit vaguer on that. Ska are relatively unknown on PC, but you might’ve heard of their console 2D stab-o-games like the Dishwasher series and Charlie Murder or top-down shooter, ah, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    I made a game with zombies in it has an amazing soundtrack. I’d link if I wasn’t waiting in the dr’s so i’m sorry for being lazy!

  2. Wowbagger says:

    This was entirely off my radar before the Vaati video as well, super excited to have a go now though.

  3. Caiman says:

    I haven’t seen a game name-dropped this much since Doom. Still waiting for the Souls-like dating sim, with punishingly hard difficulty curve plus frequent invasions by other players. No wait, that’s real life. Never mind.

  4. Monggerel says:

    I think the industry term is “Soul-em-up”.

  5. Gravy100 says:

    The new tower defense games are souls-like games

  6. Frosty840 says:

    I find it so odd that gaming has had to use the name of the Souls games to represent the kind of high-risk gameplay we find in the series.
    I’m playing through Valkyria Chronicles at the moment, which requires a fairly Souls-y level of high-risk, high-skill lunacy/expertise to pull off its A-ranks (though there are definite deficiencies in the gameplay surrounding those), and it predated Demon’s Souls by a year or so.
    On some levels, VC is even more punishing than the Souls games, because you can’t return to any of the main missions. Once you’ve done one the only way to try it again is to reload an earlier save, wiping out any progress you made in the mission.
    For all the difficulty of executing a level “perfectly”, though, I’d say that because outright failure is far less likely in VC, it’s actually less accessible and less challenging than the Souls games.
    The sheer inevitability of repeated failure in Souls games is one of its strengths. You have to get good at them to succeed, whereas in VC, you really can bumble through the game like an utter idiot, without ever really getting good at the game at all; the only penalty being the low “rank” score at the end of a mission. Even then, you can bulldoze your way through a VC level, gaining most of the mission rewards through killing the minor bosses that litter the levels…

    • Harlander says:

      I’d say that because outright failure is far less likely in VC, it’s actually less accessible and less challenging than the Souls games.

      Should one of those lesses be more? (I’m guessing the first one)

      • Frosty840 says:

        No, they’re all as I wanted them.
        You’re unlikely to fail most missions outright, which makes it less challenging, but the lack of challenge means that you’re less likely to gain that deep and close understanding that the Souls games require from you.
        The average Souls player who’s reached the end of the game is therefore (in theory), going to be a more expert player than the average VC player who reaches the end of that game. Souls games require a certain level of expertise from the player.
        Probably the least well-chosen word in the line you quoted was “accessible”. I’m using it to mean the fact that Souls games deliberately cultivate expertise in their players that’s not necessarily required in other games with more lenient success conditions. It’s not the right word, but I’m not really sure what other word to use.

        • Harlander says:

          You know what, I missed the ‘less’ in ‘less likely’ there. The “accessible” was the one I thought didn’t fit.

          Can’t think of a single word to describe the phenomenon either.

          Ho hum.

  7. Al Bobo says:

    I love DS 1&2 and any game that has similar feeling rises on top of my to-be-played -list. Now the waiting starts…

  8. Rizlar says:

    Looks interesting but it is very derivative of Dark Souls, isn’t it? In terms of the visuals, UI and mechanics. Probably sound design too, so, errr, pretty much everything.

    • skyturnedred says:

      I giggled a bit when I realized they even use the same font.

  9. skyturnedred says:

    As soon as that video started I thought of Dishwasher. Great games.

  10. Tim James says:

    It’s a 2D Dark Souls.

  11. Jakkar says:

    Everyone forgets these folks made an absolutely fascinating zombie survival and exploration sandbox full of mysteries and a surreal/realistic atmosphere by turns.. What was it called… SCZ. Survival Crisis Z. Pretty sure that was Ska?

  12. Phasma Felis says:

    Ska are relatively unknown on PC

    Which is a damn shame, since they seem to have deliberately removed their earlier PC games from the internet. Zombie Smashers X2 was more or less a proto-Charlie Murder, a huge sprawling River City Ransom tribute in which you beat the tar out of and/or ally with zombies, skinheads, metalheads, pirates, mummies, ninjas, robots, vampires, Nazis, and probably some others I forgot.

    Now it’s gone from their website, unavailable for purchase, and only downloadable via torrent. Sigh.

  13. Tim James says:

    Yes, Ska Studios made Survival Crisis Z.

    I remember his blog posts about why he was getting out of indie game development on PC. He left right at the end of the dark ages (distribution and development issues) before the tidal wave of PC indie games. At least they’re coming back now.