Smoke and Sacrifice is a new game from the team of Solar Sail Games and Curve Digital that’s an open-world heavily narrative driven RPG. From the get go the game makes it a point to let you know that it will not hold your hand and that you will need to focus heavily on crafting in order to survive as everything here wants to kill you. With creatures that are incredibly deadly, to dangerous environments to even NPC characters form quests that ultimately want to kill you; you will learn true fear of everything. One of the things that struck me hardest was the fact that Sachi’s quest hits you hardest if you’re a parent as you’ll be bale to identify heavily with her motivation throughout this game.
You play as Sachi, a young mother that’s had to sacrifice her newborn son for the sake of having yo preserve the Sun Tree that warms the island that she calls home. Her remorse for having done what she did sets in and she is then off to try and find her spirited-away son which leads her into a hazardous underground realm. There is no explanation as to why you must sacrifice your child, but as you take control of the mother and fetch your swaddled newborn child, there is no other option. The weight of the realization eventually dawns on you that you are meant to sacrifice a helpless infant in the first moments of the game. This very event stays with you for the rest of your journey and it weighs heavily on you. The environments WANT to kill you; the world itself is just as lethal as the enemies. There’s a day/night cycle where a deadly fog comes at night, and if you don’t have a light source equipped you’ll slowly lose health. The environment changes from swamps, to ice, to lava, to electrified floors and these areas require you to have a certain type of boots equipped to even enter them. It’s a good idea to be sure that your equipment is always at full durability, and that you have some spare parts or items to repair them as needed.
Mechanically, the game feels like Don’t Starve, with its two dimensional characters, day-night cycle, hostile environment, and staged resource-gathering; while there are some fighting mechanics, they are overly-simplified, with weapons each offering only a single combo. Some of the combat often feels unfair and with the amount of time you spend fighting, it comes very close to derailing the whole experience. Early in the game you can acquire a crossbow, which should make combat easier if you prefer ranged combat style, but it was still hard to aim with a controller and doesn’t get much better with the mouse. Enemies hit and they hit very hard, especially when compared to how much damage you do. Healing items don’t restore anywhere near close to the amount of damage you might take in a single hit. Quite frankly, the early part of the game can be a real struggle until you get more powerful gear.
How is the music you ask? One word……forgettable
So hows it fair? Well the narrative is the meat of this game. It seeps its hooks into you from the beginning and you always want to find out more of whats going on in Sachi’s world and how you can potentially save her son. The rest? Well with uneven combat and incredibly forgettable music, I think that the story and ar style alone are the only things that will have you climbing towards the end of this journey. Given that this is priced at $24.99 I honestly have to say that you should WAIT for a sale unless you’re into games of this ilk and have the cash to spare on it. Not terrible, but not great either.