Review: Smoke and Sacrifice – Sacrifices, Smoke, and a Sun God

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Smoke and Sacrifice is the debut title for independent developer Solar Sail Games. In the title, players take on the role of Sachi, a mother in mourning who wants to know the truth behind her child’s disappearance and sets out on a wild quest to find proof of his existence in the world after a sacrifice that she believes to have been faked. Find out what we thought with our review of the Nintendo Switch indie title.


Pros:
+Absolutely gorgeous visual design choices
+Soft ambient tunes and sound designs offer a beautiful and amazing experience for fans to enjoy
+Gameplay mechanics are straightforward and easy to learn

Cons:
-Inventory management and navigation can be hard to navigate over time
-Manual saving can be a minor irritation when having to play the game while on the go


If you went just by the title alone, one would assume that Smoke and Sacrifice is a game much like titles such as Darkest Dungeon and Salt and Sanctuary. However, that’s not the case with this charming little indie title that sees players take on the role of Sachi, a woman that lives in a small bleak place, one that serves as home to a smoke-addled, down-on-their-luck underclass of peoples known as the Drear. A people’s who perform menial tasks such as farming, fighting off unknown dangers and working provide power to the paradise of those above.

Sadly, Sachi isn’t taking things easy after having watched her son become a sacrifice to the one whom her people call their Sun God. However, Sachi isn’t convinced that her son is dead or sacrificed at all, but rather, she believes her son to have been sent to the lands below, to serve as one of the Drear and ultimately, she is ready to discover the truth and find out what has happened to her son.

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That’s where developer Solar Sail Games’ game begins to really go. Unlike many games we’ve seen on the Nintendo Switch in recent times, Smoke and Sacrifice is rather different from most on the market. As it is a game with a landscape and no menu screen, Smoke and Sacrifice starts off rather quickly, not wasting any time to introduce its unique art styles and gameplay mechanics.

Much like recent games such as Steamworld Dig and Don’t Starve with their hand-drawn 2D art styles that come off rather pleasing to those who enjoy that style of art in their games. However, just like those two, character movements are made in three dimensions, but appears 2D overall. However, don’t let the style of art and storytelling elements fool you by any means; Smoke and Sacrifice is a grim reminder of caste systems in our very world.

Once past the games initial tutorial, which gets you acquainted with the games crafting and combat mechanics, you’re off to explore the underworld or the home of the Drear. Here you will scavenge across the mire, gathering resources from plants, marauding beasts so that you may craft weapons, armor, health items, upgrades and material that can be used to help repair your gear. You’ll even encounter characters and signposts that contain recipes for items to be made. But not all is as easy as it sounds in Smoke and Sacrifice.

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When night comes, things get a bit more dangerous as a purple fog begins to weigh in on the surrounding area. During this period, enemies are tougher, their resources become a bit rarer as well, making them invaluable to your crafting needs. But combat isn’t the sharpest when it comes to this very game. During my time with it, I found myself hitting “Y” to attack my foes, and “X” to dodge as well as to perform a jump whether I was in combat or not.

Luckily, as someone who isn’t as familiar with these kinds of titles, Smoke and Sacrifice was easy to adjust to. Combat being as simple as it is allowed me to face down giant spinehogs, some jellyfish-like creatures and even move about the mire with as much ease as one could desire. When it comes to gathering items, inventory management will be a rather basic affair, requiring you to manage the items you have and how many you have once a decent way into the game. Just don’t forget to repair the gear you have on.

On the map, you will become rather well acquainted with all six regions within the game, each coming with their own unique threats, materials to farm, and required gear in order to survive. Certain workbenches and forges on the map will allow you to forge different pieces of gear as you traverse across the lands. Each environment is rich in detail, each breaking away any thought of repetition that might arise. If you get lost while trying to complete your mission, you have a map as well as a task screen that will keep you up-to-date with what objectives you need to complete should you get lost.

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Unlike most modernized games, saving in Smoke and Sacrifice is manual and requires players to visit the games menu when needed be, which means you’ll want to save often and to make sure you do so before you quit for the night or day. Before you enter combat, it’s advised to save due to the game lacking an auto-save feature. If you are one that enjoys combat, you will find that you can “hotkey” up to eight weapons of your choice.

But keep note, your inventory space is a 4×14 grid, which occupies less than half of your on-screen display. You’ll have 56 slots to utilize, and that, that is where you’ll find yourself navigating a pack full of items to help you survive. Sadly, on such a small screen, navigating the grid can be hard, it is difficult to navigate from time to time and when you are moving across the map as quickly as possible and trying to stay alive, you have your work cut out for you, so keeping your pack organized is of extreme importance.

Luckily for us, Smoke and Sacrifice does allow for players to use the Nintendo Switch’s touch screen and makes it so you can easily play the game without the Joy-Cos if you wish, but only to some extent. Sachi will move to where you tap on the screen, she will attack where you tap, and dodging is completely unavailable in touchscreen mode. This means the Joy-Con mode is of extreme importance and you’ll want to take advantage of playing the game in this manner.

Smoke and Sacrifice – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Developer: Solar Sale Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $24.99

However, that brings us to the conclusion of this review. During our 15-20 hours with the game, we found Smoke and Sacrifice to pleasing in all its areas ranging from its artistic nature to its rather well-designed sound systems ranging from the small sound effects when attacking an enemy to the soft and beautiful score that fills the background as an ambient piece to the game.

But if you are one that doesn’t mind juggling time between your inventory, combat, and crafting, then Smoke and Sacrifice is a title that is right up your alley and offers a wide array of things to do between Sachi’s quest and the games semi-repetitious crafting loop that does indeed exist.


Our review is based upon a retail version provided to us by the publisher of the game. .  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 8 out of 10


About the Writer:

David_Murphy_Vault_BoyDavid Murphy is B.A.T.G.R.’s behind the scenes man who helps get things up and going as well as keeping things in order. Don’t be surprised to know that the old man contributes rather heavily to editing, news, and information he digs up so that editorials, as well as articles, are done properly. He also likes Fallout… A lot. We’re not sure he’s not secretly the Vault Boy in disguise.

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