Price: £13.99 (£18.78 Digital Deluxe, £4.79 Digital Deluxe upgrade)
Where To Get It: Steam
“Argh, why did the Eldritch Horror bite my face off?!” asked the primary worshipper of the “Eldritch Horrors Biting People’s Faces Off” cult. That’s a good way to sum up the general story of Sea Salt, in which a town’s archbishop, of the Church of Dagon, the fish god, refuses to go quietly when he is ordered not only to sacrifice others (which he’s alright with), but himself.
You are Dagon, who summons your horde from afar, controls them from afar, and slaughters the chosen townsfolk and anyone who gets in the way. And, while the game is alright, and aesthetically works quite well, I do have some problems with it. So let’s talk gribbleys.
The basic idea is just fine: You start a level with some kind of creature, you surround townsfolk and murder them by leading them with your cursor to an enemy, then holding SPACE once you’re reasonably sure they’re surrounded. Nearly every enemy in the early game will panic once you’re close enough, so, even with ranged enemies becoming a thing very early on, this, and the idea that not holding space allows your gribbleys to navigate hazards like fire are the basics (but not bullets, or the impending fire of a molotov cocktail: Those, you just have to deal with, one way or another.) When you find a summoning circle, or simply collect enough gold from townsfolk, you can summon more, of any type that you’ve unlocked in the playthrough so far (yes, this includes restarting entirely.)
And that, plus the narrative of a church leader deceiving his people into thinking this horde is a test of faith, rather than a punishment for the leader of the church refusing to be faithful, is pretty interesting. Hell, even the bosses are interesting, although they may frustrate the first time you meet them. But it’s okay, you’re not expected to win in one go. Play an arena. Try again with different folks. You’re still progressing toward unlocking new cult leaders with which to try something different.
Aesthetically, it looks pretty good. Good, gothic music, the UX is well presented, the sprites for the various townsfolk, monsters, etc, are evocative with a low pixel count, and the world is suitably grimy.
It is perhaps a shame then, that it’s been an utter bastard to screenshot due to problem number one: Yes, there is a windowed mode, via alt+enter. No, it isn’t in the options. Yes, it’s tiny, and you have to manually resize. And if that were all, I wouldn’t mind so much, and this wouldn’t be getting the thumb being waved back and fore uncertainly. But it isn’t. The game being somewhat slow, I understand. It gives you room to think, even if it doesn’t particularly feel great.
But the fires causing this godawful blur effect that makes my eyes hurt is bloody terrible, and it only gets worse the more fire there is. No, there isn’t an option to turn that off, although there is for “Ye Olde School Graine Filtre” Similarly, while the UX is alright, what isn’t alright is the lack of clarity in the menu organisation: When it says “Start” , it means “Continue”, and, when leaving an arena, it asks “Retry” when, in fact, it means “Back to menu.” And the difficulty starts spiking pretty early also.
If you like playing the monsters or villains, as I do, and want something a little different, this one’s a moderately good pick. But I know I’m going to be waiting until the eyestrain inducing post-effects can be turned off, because that’s the kind of Eldritch Horror I’m not into. Where I’m going, I will need eyes.
The Mad Welshman is more of a Labour voter than the Eldritch Horror Party, but he does support the “Great Cthulhu Eats The Rich” platform.