Salt and Sanctuary

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Salt and Sanctuary
Developer(s)Ska Studios
Publisher(s)Ska Studios
Designer(s)James Silva
Michelle Silva
Programmer(s)James Silva
Artist(s)Michelle Silva
Composer(s)James Silva
Michelle Silva
Genre(s)Action role-playing, platformer
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D action role-playing video game developed and published by Ska Studios. The game was released on March 15, 2016 for the PlayStation 4, with later releases for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch.[1][2][3][4][5] It is heavily inspired by the Souls series by Japanese developer FromSoftware.[6][7] The game received positive reception from critics, who praised its graphical style and gameplay.


The game features 2D hand drawn visuals, as well as gameplay mechanics similar to the Souls series. There are 600 items players may use, and the several weapon categories have special movesets including air attacks. Players can wield two handed weapons for additional power, and shields to defend and parry. Magic and ranged attacks can also be performed.[1] The game implements RPG concepts such as origins, classes and stat development, as well as an extensive skill tree providing hundreds of combinations. The game also provides a multiplayer option, and asynchronous features such as messages that may be interchanged between players. Multiplayer allows for co-operative and versus play, but it is local only.


The game begins with the player stowed away in a ship that is also carrying a princess from an unnamed country who is to be married to an opposing country's king in order to avert war. However, a group of marauders attack the ship, murdering its crew. The player kills all the marauders and escapes to the deck, but they are then set upon by a giant "Kreakan" (a corruption of kraken) of the sea resembling Cthulhu. Whether or not they are able to defeat the powerful kraken, the ship is wrecked, sending them drifting to shore on a mysterious island.

There, the player meets a strange old man who gives them an icon of one of three creeds the player says they are a member of, helping them in their quest to find the lost princess. The player places this icon in the first Sanctuary and then continues exploring the island, gathering salt in order to gain power, as in this universe, humans are known as Saltborn and are ostensibly largely composed of it. There, it is possible to meet several NPC's with side-stories, an unnamed Knight, Thief, and Sorcerer. The player also meets a highly sinister talking Scarecrow that threatens that they will perish.

In the process of conversing with these NPCs throughout the journey, they come to realize that the island is made up of copies of dangerous locations from the various continents of the world, and that some kind of power "collected" them. The player realizes that the Scarecrow is the avatar of a being known as the Nameless God, and also that the princess they were searching for may not have even been royalty, but rather a slave that was to be sacrificed to the Nameless God in exchange for ending the current war, as has been done many times in the past. An optional boss fight also reveals that the Nameless God has killed the current gods of the world, known as the Three, by trapping them in special coffins and receiving and answering prayers meant for them, as gods require worship to survive.

Finally, the main character meets the old man for the final time, and he reveals that he was once Jaret, a great king who once ruled the island and agreed to be the servant of the Nameless God in exchange for power. The Nameless God is an incredibly powerful being who is Saltborn (i.e. mortal), but desires to be a divine being, yet is unable to no matter how much power he collects due to him not having a soul of fire like other gods.

The player travels to the Nameless God's castle and defeats him, finding a well with which they are able to escape from the island and presumably end the cycle of war that the Nameless God perpetuated. Alternatively, they can choose to pick up the Nameless God's helmet and gain his full power, but be trapped on the island.


The game was first announced in an open letter from the developer to the PlayStation Blog on August 28, 2014. The game was released for the PlayStation 4 worldwide on March 15, 2016,[1] and for Microsoft Windows on May 17, 2016.[8] The game also released on PlayStation Vita on March 28, 2017. A Nintendo Switch port, handled by BlitWorks, was released worldwide on August 2, 2018 via the Nintendo eShop, with a physical retail released on December 11, 2018 under the title Salt and Sanctuary: Drowned Tome Edition.[5][9]

The initial idea behind the game was conceived as a fusion of the combat of the Souls series with the studio's previous Dishwasher series. [10] The Castlevania series, particularly Symphony of the Night and the later Nintendo DS installments (which are noted for their free-roaming exploration-based design), also served as inspiration for the gameplay.[11] The tech demo received a large amount of positive feedback, so the developers decided to continue with that idea.[10]

The game took about two and a half years to develop, though the underlying systems were created before development started in earnest.[10] The original game as designed was much more complex, but some cuts had to be made due to the small size of the development team.[10]


Salt and Sanctuary received "generally positive" reception, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[12]

IGN awarded it a score of 8.6 out of 10, saying "You could call Salt and Sanctuary a 2D mashup of Dark Souls and Castlevania, and you'd be right. But such a simple pronouncement would be a disservice to the tremendous amount of thought that's gone into Salt and Sanctuary, whether it's in the graphic style that evokes horror through the style of comic strips or in the intricate web of dungeons and castles serves as it map."[13]

Pascal Tekaia of RPGamer rated the game 4.5/5, calling it "a remarkable fusion of several distinct styles" and "more than just a passable clone", while expressing dismay at the minimalist storyline and what he called "cheap deaths".[14]

Griffin McElroy of Polygon rated the game 9/10, saying that it accomplished the "impossible" feat of "borrow[ing] the mechanics of another game franchise without getting lost in derivation". He called the game a "loving" adaptation that rivals even its source material.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Silva, James (August 28, 2014). "Salt and Sanctuary Coming Exclusively to PS4, Vita Next Year". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  2. ^ O'Connor, Alice (January 12, 2015). "2D Souls-y Stab-o-Platforming: Salt & Sanctuary". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  3. ^ "Ska Studios Games". Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  4. ^ "Patch Notes for Mac and Linux Update". Steam. Retrieved Jan 18, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Craddock, Ryan (July 25, 2018). "Brutal 2D Hand-Drawn Platformer Salt And Sanctuary Hits Switch Next Week". Nintendo Life. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  6. ^ Silva, James. "Friends, Foes, and Sellswords: Salt and Sanctuary Multiplayer Detailed". Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b McElroy, Griffin (August 28, 2014). "How Salt and Sanctuary reimagines Dark Souls as a 2D action-platformer". Polygon.
  8. ^ Jeffrey Matulef (18 May 2016). "Salt and Sanctuary is out now on Steam". Eurogamer.
  9. ^ Lim, Gabriel (October 27, 2018). "Salt And Sanctuary: Drowned Tome Edition Delayed To December 11". NintendoSoup. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d "[ Interview] Ska Studios on Salt and Sanctuary". 2016-05-06. Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  11. ^ Murphy, Paul. "Salt and Sanctuary Interview". The Vita Lounge. Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  12. ^ "Salt and Sanctuary Metacritic listing" ( Metacritic. Accessed 26 May 2017.
  13. ^ Leif Johnson, May 23, 2016 "Salt and Sanctuary Review" ( IGN. Accessed 14th August 2016.
  14. ^ "RPGamer > Review > Salt and Sanctuary". Retrieved 2017-07-16.

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