Alex has written about Salt in a previous internet life. He's approaching these types of games in a very specific way; looking at the crafting, the engagements with NPCs and how the world develops around you in this sandbox space. From dinosaurs to pirates he's had it all covered, but the one that stood out to me was Salt. An island hopping, open world pirate adventure. I was intrigued.
But not for those reasons. Open world crafting games are ten a penny these days, and the overwhelming amount of choice I find simply paralyzing. Digging through crafting logs, collecting hundreds of things, making vehicles and editing them as you go; that wasn't for me. Maybe I don't have the patience, maybe I don't have the brain power. But that is never the appeal for me.
Instead, my major draw is the world. The ambiance, the weather, the sound and the graphics. It might be shallow, but I just spent 2 hours in the Salt demo, half of which was stood, motionless, absorbing the world that Lavaboots studio have built (or that they have helped to build; the game is procedurally generated.)
I hit "new game" and was dropped onto an island. That was it, no introduction, no tutorial (outside of a little, written handbook that tells you the controls) just you and the world that has been generated before you. There is no music, nothing sweeping or epic to welcome you into the world, nothing but a gentle breeze whistling through the trees, the quiet ebb and flow of the water lapping on the beach and the distant melody of birds far overhead.
A short walk down to the beach demonstrates the keen attention to detail on show in Salt as well. The ambient sounds quickly recognise your location and the wind sounds a little harsher away from the protection of the treeline.
The visuals match up to this quality as well, as you can tell from a quick glance at the embedded screenshots. The simple, muted colour palette lends itself to the relaxing ambiance, while the simple geometry, aside from having a use in the world generation, make for charming, simple vistas.
I don't even know if I want to play more Salt to dive into its intricacies and nuances. I've enjoyed the time I've spent in the game's demo (available here) and any kind of delving into the game's systems is only sure to frustrate me and take away from the tranquility the game offers.
I'm sure that the game offers more than what I've enjoyed from it, Alex himself said that this is one of the best, most complete "open world procedural generation crafting etc" games on the market. Take that for what you will, but in the mean time enjoy the screenshots and check the demo out for yourself.