Currently only available on PlayStation 4, Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D side scrolling game that unashamedly mixes the Dark Souls’ formula brilliant with platform action.
Familiar, tight controls
While at first this combination doesn’t sound like a natural fit, developer Ska Studios does a fantastic job mapping all of the same feel to the action. The controls are incredibly similar, right down to the HUD and use of the directional-pad to quickly switch between items and weapons. That said, as a platform game, you are more nimble thanks to a range of jumps and dashes.
Then there is the Salt and Sanctuary's sprawling upgrade tree and range of different weapons and armors that can be tempered by blacksmiths. Salt is the currency that gates nearly all of these enhancements: enhancements that can only be unlocked at a sanctuary. Oh, and yes dying does mean you lose all your salt in the world.
A range of mechanics that Souls fans know and love.
A dark 2D world
And you need all of these skills to take down the various creatures you meet. From spindle beasts that can instantly impale you, to massive bosses like the Queen of Smiles who can send swords cruising through the air directly at you - if your skills, reflexes, and weapons are not up to the job then you do not have a chance.
But what really seals Salt and Sanctuary place as the ideal Dark Souls stand-in is its look and feel. Ska Studio’s signature scratchy-charcoal style does a wonderful job evoking the uncertain fiction that the game's inspiration is so well known for.
This is something that the developer plays with a lot. The characters you meet on your journey are typically hazy and hard to pin down on any subject as their memories slowly change in the world.
Hurry up and come out
It isn’t perfect, if only because the 2D perspective and lack of a map can lead to you getting incredibly lost in the vast game world – but Salt and Sanctuary is a must for Souls fans. Hopefully it will be out by the time you finish of Dark Souls III.