Salt - Gareth Damian Martin

What a delightful poem. The swimming mechanic is very nice; soothing when it needs to be, stressful when it needs to be.

I’m not sure whether the choices are meaningful? But I’m not sure whether they need to be.

I think this game will be remembered for its mechanic (having to keep pressing the spacebar to continue swimming), but not so much for its story (which keeps disappearing). It is a risky thing to disappear the text after only a few seconds, throughout the whole game. I can see the point, but it didn’t pay off in my case, because I really wasn’t able to retain much: about exactly what was going on, or whether the ending was a happy one. I have something to recommend about this. There were, I think, generally two lines of screen space where the story would appear, one below the other. Sometimes the first line would disappear to be replaced by a new line of text, but other times the new text would be positioned below the previous one. I would keep the first line whenever possible, not disappearing it until the second line would also disappear. I think that would be much smoother and give a better shot at comprehension/retention.

A good positive about the experience of this game is that when you stop swimming, it’s not death but quite the opposite. You simply come up for air and see things differently, or different things. That’s refreshing in more ways than one. The whole thing is a simple but novel mechanic, and kudos. But what happened? I don’t know, it has disappeared.

I don’t take points away for it, but one of my pet peeves is when games recommend headphones. Just tell us to what extent the game relies on audio, please. Yes, we’d all prefer for everyone to enjoy all of our music, movies, games, or whatever on headphones, but everyone already has their audio setup under control. They really just need to know if the game uses sound.

I have to diverge a little from dfabulich – I found nearly all of it stressful, but in the best way haha. A surprisingly effective horror experience, in my opinion – I may be biased, as I have quite the fear of water, especially deep dark open water, which this game gleefully exacerbated.

I do agree with jepflast that I found the timing of the text difficult at times. In particular, I felt frustrated above-water because the text faded in very slowly: I might have preferred to see all the shore text at once (or most of it) and been able to decide when I wished to swim again at my leisure. In contrast, I thought the horror-esque scenes beneath the water benefited greatly from the ephemeral nature of the text. Those descriptions were frequently shorter and easier to comprehend, so that worked in their favor. Anyway, minor nitpicks! Overall, I definitely enjoyed the game. I appreciated the intuitive up/down system of choices, and the music was fantastically composed – although it stopped playing during some scenes, which lowered my immersion a smidge. I believe the ending I reached had no music, which was too bad.

(For those curious: in my ending, I emerged from the sea a horrifying salt-encrusted Cthulhu god with seer-blind eyes, and no one can tell me otherwise.)

This review has gone on too long already… but because I keep a compendium of sea-related things that frighten me, have a couple ancillary thoughts. While playing, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the final chapter of Chopin’s The Awakening, as well as a comic by Emily Carroll ( ) near the end.

Reviewed by yours truly here.
Standard disclaimer: Warning! May contain trace amounts of artistic license. Please play the game before reading my review of it. Not only will there be spoilers, but my ramblings are a bit on the experimental side this year, and I fear that they could be obscure to the point of misrepresentation if read out of context.

I have posted a review here:

  • Jack