In light of the release of Dark Souls III and the ever-growing popularity of Souls-Like games, I thought it'd be good to share one such example of the latter category that I believe may be one of the best out there.

http://ska-studios.com/salt/salt2.php]Salt and Sanctuary is a Metroidvania style platformer for the PS4 and PC that is heavily, heavily inspired by the Souls series in terms of both presentation and performance. Just like Souls, the player is given a set of templates to build a character and from there are allowed to adjust their build to suit their tastes. Sanctuaries, much like Demons' Archstones and Dark's Bonfires, mark checkpoints throughout the world where the player may refill their set consumables/magic/miracles and level up. However, the twist comes in that Sanctuaries are affected by the player's "Creed" (think Souls Covenants but a bit less specialized) which determines when and how they may fill said sanctuary with NPCs and what refillable consumables they get. The levelling system also breaks from Souls in favor of a Final Fantasy X style Sphere Grid system (which I personally thought was one of the game's stronger points).

The story is the typical oblique Souls-like tale of madness, death, gloom, etc. but is presented even more sparsely (for better or worse) and also with Ska's signature grimly charming absurdity. The actual play, too, draws heavily from Souls with equipment burden; separate health, stamina, and "focus" (magic) bars; and different weapon styles all at the player's control and discretion. However, some elements of Souls hit a snag with the 2D Metroidvania sidescrolling platformer layout, especially in regard to rolling/jumping and hit detection.

The game length can vary drastically based upon how you play. The main story could probably be blown through in ten hours or less, but going for a more completionist/methodical game may shunt it up to 30+ hours for a full game. There's enough content and decision making to warrant multiple playthroughs, but certainly far less than any Souls game thus far. The lack of functioning coop can also mark against the game. I personally took no issue with the lack of online coop or any major system of NPC/PC summoning, but I know many people were put off by the lack of that particular Souls staple.

All in all, SaS remains firmly in my "favorite recent games" category and (at least to me) lives up to its inspiration in terms of being a tribute game with its own personal flair.

TL;DR

Pros:
  • Rich experience for an Indie Metroidvania
  • Amount of in-game content and good levelling system allows for high degree of player control
  • Beautiful artwork and environmental aesthetic


Cons:
  • Balancing issues throughout (greatswords are by far the best weapon category and dark magic is disgustingly OP even though it's tough to get)
  • Sloppy hitboxes for both player and NPCs/enemies
  • Platforming occasionally clashes with Souls style movement (strip naked before jumping or plummet to your death)
  • Some elements of the game are poorly explained or not explained at all, leaving it up to guesswork or looking at a wiki to figure out certain mechanics (especially the case with weapons/armor and Creeds)


It's good/10 would get Salty with