Switch version tested
Review code provided
Ever wanted to smite mankind from the face of the earth? Raise some hell and send a hoard of grotesque minions out to do your bidding by tearing flesh, gnawing on bones and drinking blood? Well if the answer to any of the above is yes then we suggest you speak to a psychiatrist or at the very least, take a look at Sea Salt.
Coming to us from Swedish developers Y/CJ/Y Sea Salt is an action strategy game set in the world of Lovecraftian horror. The open cutscene show’s us an archbishop worshipping the fish-god Dagon, after refusing to sacrifice himself at Dagon’s request, the god becomes angry and unleashes his minions upon the town.
It is down to you to assume the role of a deity and wreak havoc upon the lands by guiding a hoard through various levels and devouring every human on screen in order to progress. The game begins with just one deity on offer but more can be unlocked and provide varies abilities such as having fewer minions but increased attack ability. To guide the hoard you must move a cursor around the map which your minions will follow, some levels are made up of several maps which is fine at first but as the game progresses a sense of repetition starts to set in with some levels feeling too drawn out.
Starting off, your deity only has access to one minion type but more become available at a steady rate via the form of cards. Unlocking a new card will provide the Minion’s stats to help you determine it’s effectiveness for your playstyle and also which enemies it might be most useful against. Minions available range from basic insectoid units to more powerful but slower units. Some offer ranged attacks or have higher defence levels where others may cause damage over time to both enemies and the environment. Each level begins with a small group but by collecting gold and filling the gold meter or by locating portals you can summon new batches to aid you. Don’t be shy in summoning when you have the opportunity, once your gold meter s full you can collect no more until it has been spent so make the most of every opportunity to replenish your ranks.
Although you have the power of the underworld at your fingertips the humans will not go down without a fight. Just as you have a wide range of creatures at your disposal the townsfolk are equally varied and will seek to stop you with pistols, shotguns, flamethrowers, hounds and more plus a series of defences set up around the town. Each enemy also has its own specific attack pattern and certain groups will complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses just as your minions do. It is all too tempting to just rush in with a hoard and start chomping away on people but doing so can cost you greatly so take a bit of time to roam the area, checking for ambushes.
Human’s will place barricades to slow you down and while you are busy breaking through you may be open to attack from some molotov’s being thrown at you or a gun tower lining you up. It’s moments like this where the strategy element settles in but there is also an element of just hoping for the best. As you guide minions with your cursor around houses and barns some of the slower unit’s get left behind or take a while to catch up meaning that when you start an attack you might not have your full strength and abilities when you need them. This is a minor gripe but one that caused a bit of irritation during some of the more busier battles.
Boss Battles also feature, the archbishop has a crew of tough guys all willing to serve the church and put an end to your nightmarish crusade. These boss battles are well designed and once again keep a focus on strategy over just charging in blindly. Keeping an eye on your enemies attack patterns and abilities as well as the Minions you currently have in your hoard will be the key to making the most of each opportunity to strike.
As far as performance is concerned there was little to gripe about. Sea Salt run’s well in both docked and handheld mode on Switch. I never had any issues with memory stutter and load times are minimal. Visually Sea Salt is presented in a retro style 8=Bit graphic design, this is not uncommon in indie games and although the action on screen was easy enough to follow I would have preferred a slightly tidier graphic style as everything just started to mash together after a lengthy session of drawn-out levels. Music and sound effects were basic but fun. Controls were blissfully simple allowing Sea Salt to have a very pick up and play element. Your hoard cursor is controlled with the left stick and the camera can be moved around with the right stick if you want to get a lay of the land and see what might be lying in wait ahead. Attack’s are done with the ZR button with face buttons used to access portals and choose minion cards.
Sea Salt is a fun and challenging adventure and I enjoyed having the horror element flipped on its head by being in control of the monsters. There is fun to be had here but I would just prefer the presentation to be a bit cleaner and the level’s to be more varied to avoid such an early sense of repetition. If you are looking for a deep strategy experience you may want to look elsewhere but if you want something easy to pick up with a dose of the macabre then Sea Salt is for you.
TBG Score: 7/10