A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Salt and Sanctuary is a downloadable adventure game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs that's both a throwback and an homage to adventure titles. It's intended to be tough and unforgiving, and progress is extremely slow. The high level of difficulty could frustrate and intimidate some players who don't like to fight for every bit of progress. Large amounts of blood and gore spray the screen after every battle, which could alarm some parents.
What's it about?
In SALT AND SANCTUARY, you begin as shipwrecked sailor on a foggy mountain, who must claim sanctuary for his guild and try to strengthen its territorial holdings. Countless monsters stand between you and that goal. The world has lore and deep mythology -- and tons of environmental storytelling about what this world used to be like -- but you'll only uncover these details if you want to pay attention. There's an even deeper story here about the type of evil that took over, with you trying to restore peace and shift the balance in this land by spreading your chosen faith and destroying the monsters that populate the world.
Is it any good?
This game is a very acquired taste -- you'll need to be undeterred or frustrated by failure or dying, as no progress here is easily won. That, honestly, is intended as the appeal of this game, which is a tribute to titles such as Castlevania and Dark Souls, with gameplay shown as a side-scrolling defense-focused action and strategy game. You're ultimately staring down learning the block and parry systems, studying the sizable character-skill trees, and experimenting with what works best for you over multiple hours. This makes the game both frustrating and rewarding, although it's definitely supposed to be both. The Switch version works better by including simultaneous local two player adventuring, and you'll need the help at times, because this game is very difficult. Even with the extra help, you're not guaranteed that you'll survive some battles. But that's what makes playing and fighting through this game so appealing, because you feel like you've earned your progress with each monster beaten.
Rewards also come via exploration, as the painterly visuals entice you to poke around to see what else the foggy world contains and what awaits you there. You'll need to get used to seeing the same areas over and over, as a big part of the difficulty derives from retrieving your items and money lost when you're bested by a foe. If you can make it back there, and kill whatever killed you, you reclaim what you lost. But you're extremely vulnerable and likely to die again while making your way back there again. People who have played Dark Souls will recognize this sort of trajectory. What's different here is a shift in the camera and a greater emphasis on platforming in dungeons and monuments to a mysterious land. Players that are looking for a challenge or those willing to fight for every inch of progress will appreciate the arduous journey.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Would the gameplay in Salt and Sanctuary have the same impact if the blood and gore were eliminated, or are they necessary for the mechanics of this title? Are they solely for shock value?
What is the hardest thing you've ever done? What's something you think would be impossible? Would you try to do it anyway?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows
- Price: $17.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Ska Studios
- Release date: March 15, 2016
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Violence, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.