Leaving Sanctuary: Ska Studios’ journey to Salt and Sacrifice

At this time I’m excited to announce that Salt and Sacrifice launches on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in 2022. 

I began engaged on the unique Salt and Sanctuary 9 years in the past, and searching again, it nonetheless holds numerous thriller to me. Growth started after I’d already shipped a couple of video games with what I’d humbly declare had ample fight and gameplay. Like so many different indie devs, I’d just lately develop into obsessive about the Darkish Souls method: its quite a few seemingly inscrutable techniques, its superbly darkish and imaginative world, and its tense moments the place razor skinny margins for error emerged elegantly. 

I’d constructed some fairly competent fight techniques in The Dishwasher collection (which is now unbelievably two console generations previous), so the thought of utilizing that as a basis for exploring an indie soulslike made sense. From there, it was numerous world items, monsters, weapons, and extra: all hand-drawn, hand-animated, scripted, and positioned; a gradual journey to see if the bones of 2D brawling might animate the flesh of this darkish fantasy RPG.

In hindsight, I’m actually a bit at midnight about what labored finest for Salt and Sanctuary, not that there’s a single proper reply. For some, the lore stood out. For others, it was the frilly talent tree. The fighter DNA resonated with some individuals. However to so very many individuals, the dearth of on-line co-op was essentially the most egregious omission, which brings me to Salt and Sacrifice.

Salt and Sacrifice expands on the world of Salt and Sanctuary by exploring a brand new period and area, in addition to a brand new function: a Marked Inquisitor. A Marked Inquisitor is a prison condemned, but spared the hand of justice in alternate for a lifetime of service within the endless conflict in opposition to Mages: twisted, irredeemable creatures of elemental malice. Mages roam the world, summoning minions and wreaking havoc. Searching a Mage is a multistage pursuit by which your quarry is simply as prone to conflict with rival Mages as it’s with you. 

For these of you who’ve performed Salt and Sanctuary, think about pursuing The Queen of Smiles by means of the village: she summons two rotten crossbowmen, retreats, stumbles proper into The Sodden Knight, scraps it out with him for a bit, retreats once more, summons a bronze knight and launches a salvo of swords at you earlier than retreating to her lair, the place — cornered, determined, fierce — she awaits you, for a last battle from which there isn’t any escape. It’s a chaotic dance of blades and bolts, swords and spells.

And whereas questions of which techniques and themes will and received’t make the reduce stay, one factor is definite: Salt and Sacrifice will completely have on-line multiplayer.

I had been sending screenshots of a brand new recreation I had began in 2019 to my pal Shane Lynch, a fellow coder who’d performed unwitting sufferer in a lot of my D&D campaigns by means of the years. “It’s best to add on-line multiplayer,” he stated. “I’ll do it,” he joked (or so I believed). He has a extremely sturdy background in community programming. I don’t.

It in all probability took me longer to heat as much as the thought of programming cooperatively (and studying git) than it did for Shane to implement naked bones netcode. Inside a couple of week he had one thing working. It was glitchy at first, however there’s one thing magical about that digital first contact. After spending months making a model new world, it’s a weird delight to see another person simply form of hanging out in it.

Salt and Sanctuary had co-op that was deliberately obscured and as rudimentary because it comes: native solely, same-screen. It was tough, nevertheless it was nonetheless adored. As a result of Shane and I are constructing Salt and Sacrifice from the bottom up as a multiplayer recreation, co-op is far more intentional than it was in Sanctuary. There’s a “full” co-op mode, playable on-line and domestically, by which you and an ally can progress by means of the complete marketing campaign collectively. In contrast to Sanctuary, which solely awarded progress to the principle participant, Salt and Sacrifice permits each gamers to share progress.

Drawing inspiration from the Souls collection, we additionally carried out summoning mechanics. It’s straightforward, seamless, and quick to summon a random ally, or be part of a random host and collectively embark on a dangerous expedition. Sacrifice emphasizes exploration as a lot because it does Mage hunts, so it’s possible you’ll get summoned to assist a participant discover a brand new space, or it’s possible you’ll get summoned for the only real goal of barreling straight into a troublesome boss battle. As Sacrifice takes form, witnessing the affect of multiplayer on a world that’s nonetheless quickly rising in density and complexity has been a uniquely cool expertise.

We nonetheless have fairly a methods to go, however this has already been probably the most thrilling developments in my now surprisingly lengthy profession. I can’t wait to speak concerning the Mage designs, the assorted multiplayer factions, and the world of Salt and Sacrifice, however for now it’s merely such a thrill to introduce the sport! Keep tuned for more information on the street to its launch subsequent 12 months on PS4 and PS5.


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