Written by James ‘Meyrlock’ Ayris
Smoke and Sacrifice
Developer: Solar Sail Games Ltd
Release Date: 31st May 2018
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam)
Ever thought; “I wonder what it would be like to sacrifice my only child to a mechanical looking ‘sun tree’ under the instruction of the local ‘cult’? “Once he consumes our first-born child in the manner of a tesla beam, he will then bless our harvests and keeps us safe from the outside world born of frost and pug-bears.” Well… look no further than this beautifully crafted Indie game, Smoke and Sacrifice.
Players control Sachi, humble mother to Lio, from the only known surviving civilisation. Unfortunately for Sachi, the village rules dictate all first-born children must be sacrificed to the life giving (and taking) ‘god’. It is a brutal sight and the game doesn’t exactly ease you in. Fast forward 7 years into the future and the pug bears (yes… pug bears) have managed to get into the village and are causing havoc. Sachi, upon realising that something is sourly wrong with the ‘cult’, searches the temple only to come up empty handed. She is then zapped by the tesla beam and wakes up in a rather eerie swamp, where the real adventure begins…
This game looks amazing and plays even better. Movement and progression throughout the game is fluid and enjoyable plus I didn’t come across any bugs during my play through… well, other than the wasps… bloody wasps! The basic outline of this game is survival. Discover recipes, gather ingredients, and do it long enough to be able to craft crucial items. Durability factors into most items; weapons, armour, even food; hold onto that brain too long and it will no longer be edible. You can see the durability via the green bar below the item in your inventory;
Crafting the same helpful items can feel a bit tedious in the beginning, but soon enough progression leads into different areas and players will pin point specific zones to farm. Rather than wandering around aimlessly, you can grind for about 5 or 10 minutes and have more than enough of what you need.
There are multiple biomes in this game which require certain gear to pass through and each biome is filled with creatures of varying combat abilities and interactions.
As you can see the game has some nice quality of life features, some obvious like the boot prompt in the video, and others subtle, like a weapon losing durability will start to flash red, to warn you that one more swing at that tree might just break your sledge hammer. There are some other endearing features in Smoke and Sacrifice that make you forget about Lio, whom you thought was dead for the last 7 years, like making funny hats! These hats can be worn to blend in with specific monsters in the world reducing their hostility towards you.
They can do other things too…
The combat in this game takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve been killed 100 times by an oversized porcupine, and another 50 times to a giant raptor, you start to get the hang of things and even become confident enough to use the world around you to your advantage.
Weapon and armour variety is in abundance thanks to the crafting system, each with their own advantages and situational effectiveness; I haven’t used all of them and I have 16 hours of playtime… so far. There’s much to be tested in the battlefields and much to learn across a fairly large map for a game of its size. However, with unlockable means of fast travel it becomes easy to navigate.
The ambient music and background sound effects in the world of Smoke and Sacrifice are perfectly suited to the grotesque and gothically themed environment. At first glance the art style appears innocent enough, but with deeper exploration players can appreciate just how horrifying a world they are in. Let’s not forget those pug-bears…
Final Rating 9/10. It was easy to lose track of time in this beautifully horrible world of adventure. My advice to anyone new to the game is to save as frequently as possible at terminals. Due to the fluid progression I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t long before I roused myself and became too cocky in combat, only to lose 2 hours of work; be warned you will die many times in Smoke and Sacrifice, but it will be worth it! Trust the words of a stranger, wear hats, and, unless you’re fearless, stay away from the pug-bears!