Smoke and Sacrifice is available now on the Nintendo Switch and is priced at £19.99. There is a launch discount running at the moment that takes the price down to £15.99.
The beginning of Smoke and Sacrifice is quite something. It throws you into the game as Sachi, a new mother living in a village that believes they have to sacrifice a child to a Sun God for protection. Guess who just got picked as sacrifice? Yep, you got it; Sachi's new little boy, Lio.
Walking through the village before the sacrifice you are thanked, even celebrated for what you are about to do. One woman comments that sacrifice's shouldn't be named, to save yourself from a little of the pain. Whoops. Seems Sachi is something of a rebel. You have to go pick the baby up and drop him off under the watchful gaze of a laser beam.
Just as you're feeling completely disgusted with yourself and your actions the game then skips you forward seven years. Sachi is still living in the same village and dines't truly believe her son is gone. Then the protection surrounding the village fails and monsters attack the village and its people. Sachi is sent to find the village priests but in all of the confusion they're nowhere to be found. She heads into the temple and is transported to a completely new world and immediately sets out to see if she can find her sacrificed son.
I feel like I've given you more story than I ever have in a review before, but honestly these aren't spoilers. What I have described is literally the first fifteen minutes or so of the game, probably less. But I wanted to speak a little about those opening moments, to give you an idea of what the game is about. It started off looking so charming, but is much darker than I expected. It's a survival game with something actually at stake - you have to survive to see if Sachi can find her son. Don't worry though, no spoilers from here on out. Guess you'll just have to buy Smoke and Sacrifice if you want to find out what happens to Sachi and Lio :-) (or watch it on YouTube or something).
The new world is very different to the one we started in. Its gloomy and smoke-filled, and has monsters and something called Drear's roaming around. They're friendly enough and will set you tasks that start off simple enough and are actually helpful to Sachi. They'll teach you ways to keep the smoke at bay, craft weapons and even a warmer jerkin, and later some fur boots, so that you can enter another biome to continue your quest.
The crafting in this game starts out simply enough, with you being able to make nothing more that make-shift weapons and items. Eventually though your crafting recipes will increase to include much tougher weapons - even elemental ones.
I feel like the crafting system is much deeper than I initially expected given how simplistic the combat is. That's not to say that the combat isn't good, because despite it's simplicity - you literally just bash one button over and over until your foe dies - it is both fun and challenging. There is a dodge button too and you WILL need to use it. In a way playing Smoke and Sacrifice made me think of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. If you read my review for that, you'll remember that I liked that you played as someone who was rubbish at fighting. He was on a learning experience, just like the player. He got better as I did and it really helped my enjoyment of the game. Smoke and Sacrifice is exactly the same. Sachi isn't a warrior. She's a mum who's been thrust into a terrible world and will do anything to find her son.
The monsters in Smoke and Sacrifice don't always have to meet their end at the hand of whatever weapon you've managed to cobble together either. You can set traps, tame some of them, and even milk some of them to help heal yourself - as long as they're stunned first. And trust me, healing is important in Smoke and Sacrifice.
Smoke and Sacrifice is a fantastic entry into the survival game market. Yes, some of the tasks set can feel monotonous, but it's not so bad as to ruin the enjoyment of the game. The manual saves at terminals set at intervals around the world are something I really enjoyed, but I know they're not for everyone. Remember though, when playing on Switch you can just put your console into sleep mode if you suddenly need to stop gaming. The game looks gorgeous and playing a survival game with a story you really want to get to the bottom of makes a nice change to. I think Smoke and Sacrifice would be a valuable addition to anybody's Switch library.