Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary: A Bit Salty; A Bit Sweet, Part III

on my way to the blackest vault.
Going DOOOOOWN!

Ed Note: This is part three (and hopefully last) of my Salt and Sanctuary review. As you can tell, I have a lot to say about it. You can read part two here

I uninstalled Salt and Sanctuary last night. I didn’t want to play it any longer, but I found myself thinking, “I’ll just play a few minutes” only to look up and the sun is rising. I’m two-thirds of the way through my melee playthrough, so I feel I can comment on the differences between playing as a mage and playing as a tank. By the way, when I say tank, I mean still being able to fast/medium roll. I watched playthroughs of people clunking their way through the game, barely being able to roll or not rolling at all, and no thank you–especially as I still am not using a shield. I tried, but I still find it awkward. Also, it was useless against the boss I was having a shit-ton of trouble with–more on her in a bit–because she can drain your stamina in a blink. If you’re going to block, you can’t roll and dodge at the same time, and I couldn’t remember that in the heat of the battle.

My tank is leveled higher at this point than my caster was by the end of the game, and I still can’t wear my paladin armor without fat-rolling. I’m not happy about that, and it’s part of my dissatisfaction with the stats-leveling in general. As I mentioned before, you have to level everything up separately, and I’m sure that’s a common thing for a certain genre of games, but it’s horseshit. Light armor and heavy armor are separate tree branches, for example, which meant I couldn’t wear most of the light armor, even though I could wear some heavy armor. Currently, my tank character is rocking the Iron Butterfly VI and the Seawolf Cutlass VI. One is a  Class 3 Greataxe, and the other is a Class 3 Greatsword. Now, in Dark Souls, all I’d have to do is level up strength to probably thirty or forty, and I’d be able to wield both of these weapons*. In S&S, I have to level up each category separately up to the Class 3 in order to use them. And, it’s not just….

OK. Quick primer on the leveling up system. You have to use Black Pearls to level up your stats. You get a Black Pearl every time you level up in general, and you can find a few in the wild. If I want to level up swords, for example. I have to get to the Class 1 Swordfighter node from the nodes I had at the start of the game as a Paladin (spending Black Pearls on varying stats along the way), and then spend one Black Pearl on Class 1 Swordfighter. Then, you have to traverse up the branch again, buying other stats, until you reach Class 2 Swordfighter. You have to spend 2 Black Pearls for a Class 2 node, and so on up to 5 for Class 5. I had to do this with two different branches as I wanted to wield both greathammers/greataxes and greatswords. There are Gray Pearls that allow you to remove a skill, but not many. It’s hard to explain, and it’s confusing to use at the start. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I still didn’t like it. Souls games are known for their obtuse and unintuitive leveling systems, but I much prefer them to the Tree of Skill.

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Salt and Sanctuary: There’s a Lotta Salt in My Sanctuary, Part II

onion kniiiiiiight!
The Masterless Knight, one of my only friends.

Ed Note: This is part two of my review of Salt and Sanctuary, a game that wears it Dark Souls inspiration firmly on its sleeve. You can read part one here. There will be spoilers abound in this review, so be forewarned. Now, on with the show.

I just finished Salt and Sanctuary last night, and I have several things to say about it. Buckle in, boys and girls, it’s going to be a long and bumpy ride. I have a hard time talking about this game because my feelings on it are over the place. On the one hand, I’ve been obsessively playing this game, even starting a new game as a melee player (much more on that later), thinking about it even when I wasn’t playing it. That’s a sign of a game that has crawled up in your spine and made its home there. I finished the game in roughly forty-five hours, which is one-third the time it took me to finish the original Dark Souls plus DLC (don’t judge), and that’s with plenty of exploring and grinding. I probably could have finished it in thirty-five to forty hours if I really booked it through. This way, though, I feel as if I’ve seen most of what the game has to offer, though I’m aware of a few things I’ve missed.

However, about a half to two-thirds of the way through the game, I begin to hate it. It started to feel like a destructive relationship in which you’re totally in love with the other person, but you know they’re going to be the death of you. No, I’m not saying Salt and Sanctuary is going to kill me–let’s not take the analogy too far. You know what’s a better analogy? Having a big bucket of popcorn at a movie. At the beginning, I’m munching the popcorn and feeling pretty good about. Who doesn’t love theater popcorn with the mysterious butter-like syrup they pour over it? I’m munching through the previews, and the popcorn is delicious! I have handful after handful, and about halfway through the bucket, I start to feel slightly sick to your stomach. “I should put this down,” I think, but do I? Of course not. I paid good money for it, and who likes stale popcorn? Plus, some theaters now give free refills(!), so better keep on eating that popcorn. Three-fourths of the way through the bucket, I’m grim. I don’t even know what movie I’m watching any longer because my stomach is hurting, and all I can think about is that damn popcorn. I know I should just get up and throw the bucket away, but I’ll be damned if I let it best me. I am going to finish the bucket if it kills me, which it probably will. By the end of the movie, I’ve stuffed every kernel down my gullet, and I’m already regretting it. Once I’m done, I feel nothing other than remorse, shame, and bitterness at the popcorn for being there. Then, I go to the concession stand to get my free bucket just because I can. I never learn.

Again, it’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s pretty close to my feelings as I went through Salt and Sanctuary. I want to make it clear that the game is still a solid game, but the last third of it really made me sour on the experience in general. I also have to say that I went through a similar fatigue while playing Dark Souls, and it’s probably because when I play a game, I gobble it down as quickly as possible. It’s similar to when I watch a TV series; I binge-watch until I feel slightly ill. Anyway, in the last third, the game started becoming more focused on platforming, which is not the part of the game I enjoyed. I mentioned in my earlier post that the platforming feels oddly squishy, and that it’s hard to tell when you can safely jump and when you can’t. In addition, there are disappearing platforms, crumbling platforms, and platforms you can’t see until you’ve jumped a certain distance. What’s worse, there are combinations of all these, which nearly did me in.

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Salt and Sanctuary: A Love Letter to Dark Souls, Part I

shivering shore sanctuary
Firelink Shrine, anyone?

Salt and Sanctuary is a game that wears its Dark Souls-inspiration on its sleeve. It’s a 2D, side-scrolling, platform, Metroidvania-like Souls game, and I wrote about my first impressions in another post. Now that I’m roughly twenty-seven hours into the game and ten bosses down, I feel I can make a more informed commentary on the game than I could earlier. Be forewarned that I will be hearkening the hallowed name of the Souls franchise frequently and unapologetically throughout this piece because there’s no way I can talk about S&S without mentioning DS.

First of all, let’s get the graphics out of the way. They’ve been divisive in the Souls community (and let’s face it, that’s mostly who’s playing this game), with half the people loving it and half the people hating it. I’m on the loving it side, but I can understand why people are put off by the cartoonish look to it. It’s mostly the characters that people hate as the environments are absolutely gorgeous. The characters almost look anime with their round eyes and wide mouths (not to mention spiky hair if you choose), and I think they’re adorable. I can see how it’d be jarring, though, to have a cute, cuddly character traipsing through a dark world, slaughtering all she sees. I mean, right in the beginning, you’re on this ship. You’re talking to an NPC, and he suddenly gets murdered right in front of you by a man dropping on him and shoving his sword down into him. To then see the cute turtle-like face of your character with her eyes moving back and forth, yeah, it takes some getting used to. I, however, love the art style, so let’s move on.

I want to note that I complained about the controls in the last post I wrote, and then I realized I probably could change them. I mean, it’d be stupid not to let me, right? I went into the settings, and lo and behold, I could, indeed, change the controls. Now, B is roll as it should be, and all is right in my world again. RB is light attack; RT is strong attack, and I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Side note: The B button on my old XBone controller is sticky, and I was telling my brother about it (as to why I bought a new one). He said he could fix it, but he also suggested I remap roll to another button. I reacted as if he said I should murder my first child*. That was unthinkable to me, which he found hilarious. A is not used very much in Souls games, so he said I should switch roll to A. OH HELL NO! Roll is B. It always has been, and it always will be. Amen.

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A Potpourri of Random Thoughts

My brain is feeling rather random right now, so I’m going to go with it rather than fight it. First of all, I tried the left side of the Sword Form today with a fair amount of trepidation in my heart. I haven’t done it in six months, and I was sure it would take me some time to relearn it. I’m having some difficulties with the left side of the Solo Form, though not nearly as much as when I first learned it. I love the Sword Form the most, so it would really discourage me if I had to relearn the whole left side again. I started it with my heart in my mouth, telling myself I’d just do it until I fucked up badly enough to have to start over. That’s another thing about the left side for me. If I mess up, I can’t just go back a posture or two and start over. I have to go back to the beginning or at least several postures back. It’s frustrating, to say the least. I made it all the way through the first half making only one major mistake (which I fixed, sort of), and decided to keep going. I got stuck on one posture early in the second half, struggled through it, then breezed through the rest of it.

When I finished, I felt exhilarated. I made it through the whole left side of the Sword Form with only two noticeable mistakes! That was way better than I thought I’d do, and it was a relief to me that I wouldn’t have to teach it to myself again. It also reminded me how much I love doing the Sword Form, and I should do it every day as I used to. Next up will be something my teacher mentioned in class recently–moving through the form smoothly, using momentum to go from posture to posture. I love the Sword. It is my absolute favorite part of taiji, and I don’t feel like I’m really doing taiji if I’m not practicing it.


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