Salt and Sanctuary is the first PlayStation title from Ska Studios and is about a doomed sailor on a ship-wrecked island, and will be out later this year. We caught up with the studio to find out more about the game.
1. Hello Ska Studios! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about your studio and how you got into developing games?
Ska Studios was officially formed in 2007 when James won the Dream-Build-Play contest for a contract to make The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Before then, James was a hobbyist game maker and went to school for computer science. About the same time the first Dishwasher was being developed, Michelle had graduated with a BA in Fine Arts and got a foot-in-the-door QA job and ended up being a tester on James’ game. Michelle also worked at WB Games and ArenaNet. We met in person at PAX 2009, kept in touch then Michelle moved out to upstate New York to join Ska Studios in early 2011. Finding a much bigger and friendly game industry scene in Seattle, we both moved back to Washington in 2013 and now love it here. We both love games and have found a dream come true in making games together.
2. Your first PlayStation title is Salt and Sanctuary, which is out now on PS4 and coming later this year to Vita. What is it about?
Salt and Sanctuary revolves around exploration of a mysterious island. The player is a shipwrecked survivor, stranded on an island full of strange magic and murderous creatures, searching for an escape. The player meets other survivors along the way, some helpful, some hostile, and we’ll certainly meet powerful lords and monsters, whose only aim is to consume the salt of hapless adventurers. The remainder of the story is to be discovered by the player.
3. What was the inspiration behind the game?
Salt and Sanctuary was inspired in equal parts by Castlevania (SotN, DoS, PoR, OoE), Dark Souls, and our own The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. We’re very much staying true to our style and gameplay, while aspiring to hit standards in exploration and role playing we loved in Castlevania and Dark Souls. Thematically, Salt and Sanctuary is inspired by House Greyjoy from Game of Thrones as well as medieval castles, armor and imagery.
4. The game is described as a “2D hardcore action RPG”. Exactly how much is there to do in the game?
A first play-through tends to get people 20-40 hours of play and over 20 bosses, some of which are optional. There are many, many armor pieces, weapons, spells and character builds to play with. There are upgrades and transmutations. There are NPCs to talk to, skill nodes and item descriptions and the bestiary to read to glean the lore from the world.
5. The game has a very impressive art style, how did you settle on the look and design for the game?
Our overall style comes from James’ way of drawing while Michelle style matches. The de-saturation of colors can be seen from The Dishwasher games and we wanted to utilize that to emphasize gloom and danger in the world outside of sanctuaries. The sanctuary utilizes color and warmth to indicate an area of refuge and safety. The creature design comes from a love of medieval,gothic and horror monsters.
6. Obviously the Vita version did not release at the same time as the PS4 version, how far along is the Vita development?
Another development team is handling the Vita port so we’re not sure just yet. We’ll keep everyone updated once we know.
7. Will the game be cross buy/save with the PS4 version?
Yes to cross-buy, probably not cross-save.
8. Can you give us any indication when the Vita version will be in our hands?
We hope sooner than later but we don’t know when yet.
9. What are your thoughts on the Vita as a system? Did you always plan a Vita version of Salt and Sanctuary?
We did plan on having the Vita version as soon as we started work with Sony. There are a number of people really into the Vita which has been surprising. For us, it’s ideal as travelling entertainment but we don’t tend to pick it up at home with all our consoles and PCs around.
10. Salt and Sanctuary is your first PlayStation title, but is not your first game, with many notable (and well-received) titles available on the 360. Would you ever consider re-releasing your previous games on PSN, or do you prefer to look to the future?
Possibly! We only have so much bandwidth though. It may be something we get help from a porting company to handle.
11. What is the future beyond Salt and Sanctuary?
Firstly, we’re working on our Steam release then the older games we’ve been planning on launching on Steam for far too long. After that, only time will tell!
12. Are there any titles on the Vita that have really impressed you? Is there anything coming out that you are excited for (or want to avoid releasing with)?
James got really into Bravely Default and Persona 4. We tend to only play handhelds when we travel so the Vita is very useful for in-flight entertainment.
13. Finally, there are two versions of the Vita available, the OLED and the Slim. Which do you think is the best?
We only have the Slim so we’ll have to say that one!
We would like to thank Michelle and James for their time with this interview. Salt and Sanctuary is one of our most anticipated Vita titles – are you looking forward to getting your hands on it?