You are going to hear the term ‘Reverse Horror’ quite a bit over the coming months and years. Carrion may become the darling, but it is going to have some competition. Sea Salt has come out and wants to set a high bar. But does it?
You are Dagon, The Old God. You come from the sea and bring on the horror in vengeance at the religious types who have defied you! You must punish all who stand in your way. Making sure those who failed to follow up on their end of a bargain pay the ultimate price.
Within moments of starting Sea Salt you will get a sense of the Lovecraftian nature of the game. Both in the subject matter and the design. It is extremely suitable here and is fantastically dark in all the right places.
The 16-bit inspired graphics and the music score do the game huge amounts of justice. It would be very easy for Sea Salt to look a mess, namely down to it being as dark as it is. Yet the is visual clarity you don’t really expect. The animation too are sublime and bring things to life fantastically.
There is something satisfying from seeing humans try in vein to run away from your hordes. Then being devoured and exploding like the feeble pathetic excuses for life that they are.
As Dagon you are essentially going into rooms, clearing them out, then moving on to the next. Rinse and repeat until you reach a boss. Take them down and then move on once more.
Yes it sounds simple and in truth it is. It is simple, but it is far from easy. The simplicity of Sea Salt allows you a low bar of entry, teaching you all the tools and techniques you’ll need to play the game.
Very soon though, the difficulty will ramp up. You have the tools, you know the techniques, but now you need to think. You need to carefully consider how you approach each new room. Early on you could hit a level and go crazy. Do that later however an you’ll be seeing a game over screen.
It has a feel similar to that of Hotline Miami in that regard. It is all action, but it makes you work for the satisfaction. The more you plan the better the payoff.
You guide your horde around a level with a visual cursor, born straight our of hell. Finding ways to get to and surround the humans you so desperately seek. Some will run for their lives, other will try to fight back. To a point this could be Pikmin is realised by Lovecraft.
There is a good amount of strategy involved, as you start off with a small horde. Yet by picking up gold, or finding markers you can grow the horde with yet more unit types. Each of these has their own attributes and abilities. Forcing you to think how best to use them.
You start off with a single apostle unlocked, but you can unlock others. With each single one having their own horde units available to them. Which in turn leads to you experimenting.
That is something the game wants you to do…Experiment. In doing so it is very generous with checkpoints, keeping you in the moment and wanting to have another attempt should you ever fail a section.
Whilst many parts of Sea Salt are clearly influenced from other games and other areas, it is clearly something very unique. It is a fantastic and clever title that you need to own. Embrace your dark side!