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Video Game / Sea Salt

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Iä! Iä! Dagon fhtagn!

Sea Salt is an indie action/real-time strategy pixel art game developed and published by Y/CJ/Y Games,note  created using Game Maker Studio, funded on and Kickstarter, and released on October 17, 2019 for the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch; and the Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple Macintosh via Steam. Originally developed as part of the No More Sweden gamejam, the setting and lore are inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos, Bloodborne, and European folklore.

Gameplay is top-down, with players controlling an icon that directs a horde of minions to move or attack nearby enemies and obstacles. Rooms are cleared once all enemies have been killed, and units are obtained by summoning them at altars scattered across the levels or once enough gold has been obtained. Additional units are unlocked via a set of tarot cards obtained by defeating bosses or uncovering secret areas, and Apostles can be unlocked to alter the starting set of minions and slightly change gameplay.

Set in the seaside kingdom of Karishamn, the player controls an Apostle of Dagon, an eldritch sea-god worshiped by the Church of Dagon. While Dagon blesses his worshippers with wealth and prosperity in exchange for their fealty, when the Church's archbishop refuses to sacrifice himself, Dagon goes on a warpath and directs his loyal minions to lay waste to the kingdom.

Official Website; Reveal Trailer, Minion Feature Trailer, Official Trailer

This game contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Most of the game's lore is dealt out in codex entries obtained by defeating bosses and unlocking units, but some lore details are only found on the game's Kickstarter page and Y/CJ/Y Games' Twitter page.
  • Angry Guard Dog: In the farm and city levels, dogs act as an enemy unit that chases down the horde and lunge at them, and are strong enough to one-shot almost any unit in one attack.
  • Arcadia: Hogstead is a farming village to the east of Rotwood Forest. Wheatfields abound, as do farmers, woodsmen, and their Angry Guard Dogs.
  • Badass Preacher: The Archbishop isn't the game's final boss for nothing, as he outright scorns Dagon by saying that "[he] gave [him] too much power." He can create an energy barrier, summon a staff that fires a massive laser which one-shots any units it hits, fire barrages of lightning balls, drop flaming chandeliers, and handle a machine gun like a boss.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Count Volgrave's health is depleted, the huge tentacles of Dagon appear to take him like they do the other bosses. However, instead of being pulled apart, he slashes the tip off a tentacle to make them back away before drinking a potion to transform into a tentacled monstrosity. Cue second phase of the fight.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies:
    • The first unit unlocked in the game is the Swarm, a group of small arthropods that are weak on their own but — true to their name — work best as a Zerg Rush.
    • The second unit unlocked is the Worm, a group of large tentacle-mouthed worms that spew acid and are capable of quickly destroying barricades and other wooden structures.
    • The Drogher is a giant snail that explodes when killed, spawning a small horde of temporary units.
    • The Crab are heavily-armored melee units that are immune to fire damage and take reduced damage from ranged attacks, but as a tradeoff have fairly weak offensive capabilities.
    • One of the later units unlocked is the Fly, a swarm of giant flies that best serve as a distraction and for herding enemies.
    • The Locust summons a short-lived swarm of insects that rapidly devour enemies.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The script on the back of the tarot cards reads "From the Deep" in Cyrillic.
  • Blob Monster: The Flesh is a slow but durable unit that resembles a fleshy blob lined with tentacles, and attacks by charging and smashing into everything in its path.
  • Breath Weapon: The Spitters spew gobs of acid that slow down enemies and quickly destroy barricades; while the Demons shoot fireballs.
  • Cat-and-Mouse Boss: Wharfmaster Glenn. He has an "Instant Death" Radius ability where he swings his anchor around while chasing your minions, meaning that you want to keep away as best you can. However, he'll eventually throw the anchor forwards and be forced to drag it back to him, during which he's vulnerable and stationary.
  • City Guards: The Knight enemies in Nova Ugarit.
  • Cthulhumanoid: One of the bonus units that can be obtained by choosing Saint Traeton and sacrificing four Cultists is a tall humanoid wielding a massive sword and clad in a white cloak, with tentacles writhing out from under its hood. When attacking, it swings its sword and unleashes a short-range wave of acid at its target.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Sea Salt is a game where you play as an Apostle of the Old God Dagon, whose Archbishop rebels when directed to sacrifice himself.
  • Creator Cameo: The "Bad Devs" achievement is unlocked by finding and killing the game's devs, who are hidden in one of the levels.
  • Crosshair Aware: Whether be cannonballs, molotov cocktails, arrows, axes, bullets, potions, or war-hammers that are thrown by the enemy, the game will tell where they will land with crosshairs.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • The boss of the northern village route, the Deacon, hides in his church and sics his followers on Dagon's horde. When he's booted out into the open, he begs for mercy before being torn to shreds.
    • In the first phase of his fight, the Archbishop runs and hides behind an army of followers, sniping at Dagon's minions from afar with a machine gun before fleeing once he's reached.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: After being mortally wounded, instead of Dagon's tentacles reaching from Behind the Black to draw and quarter The Archbishop, they rise out of the well used to communicate with the old god and drag him inside. He also leaves behind trailing scratch marks from clawing at the ground for purchase and hangs on the edge of the well for a moment with his last bit of strength.
    The Archbishop: I... I only... wanted... to...
    (Plunges into the well as the tentacles recede)
  • Dual Boss: The Thistle Guards are a pair of hulking knights — one armed with a BFS and the other with a giant shield — who guard the city's gate and are fought together.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The Hunter enemies are immune to Fear and come in various classes: the Shotgun Hunters of House Vanderburg, who wields a shotgun that fires three bullets at once; the Flamethrower Hunters of House MacGrigor, who wield long-range flamethrowers that immolate most units and can be used as a jetpack; and the Sword Hunters of House Blavatsky, who can perform a Single-Stroke Battle-type Flash Step attack.
    • The Knight enemies encountered in the city and guarding the Cathedral come equipped with halberds and armor, making them devastating for melee units.
  • Fish People:
    • The initial Apostle, Aghra de Pesca, is shown as a scaly fish-headed man in a priest's robe and buffs the abilities of the Swarm and Worm units.
    • One of the unlockable units are the Fishmen — a take on the Deep Ones. Said to be the descendants of Dagon, they are B-ranked across the board, making them decent late-game melee units.
  • Flash Step: The Blavatsky Hunters perform an iaido slash that teleports them a good distance in a straight line and heavily damages any units in their path, but leaves them vulnerable to counterattacks.
  • Giant Mook: One of the enemy units is the hulking and slow-moving but devastatingly powerful Lumberjack, who is armed with an axe that that deals area-of-effect damage. In later levels, they are supplanted by armoured knights armed with warhammers. When they're killed, their weapon flies into the air and crushes any units unlucky enough to be standing under it.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Cultists and Spitters are the primary ranged units, and have abysmally low health but make up for it by spamming powerful ranged attacks. If enough Cultists are present, they can easily shred through a boss' health bar.
    • The ghosts summoned by the Lich can become this, provided that Saint Kristina Blavatsky is chosen as the Apostle. While they'll die in one hit, if enough are accumulated they'll be able to kill any enemy — even hunters — in a single blow.
  • A God Am I: The Archbishop's flavor text indicates that his god-complex was the reason he refused to sacrifice himself to Dagon, and instead rebelled.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Several of the late-game enemy variants are equipped with armor, making them resilient to melee attacks.
  • Hotter and Sexier: DMM GAMES' Japanese artwork for the game has highly detailed artwork of Silaris, who is naked save for Godiva Hair.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Deep Ones — or as the game calls them, Fishmen — have B-ranked stats all-around, making large numbers of them an effective strategy for wiping out most enemy units.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • A low-level enemy unit encountered fairly early in the game lobs Molotov cocktails, which create little pools of fire.
    • The Flamethrower Hunters are a high-level enemy unit that are — as their name suggests — equipped with a flamethrower, which deals massive damage to most units. They can also use their weapon as a jetpack to fly around the levels.
    • One of the summonable monsters that can be obtained by choosing Saint Traeton as your Apostle is a demon that lobs fireballs - which obliterate barricades and deal decent damage to most enemy units.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The units obtainable by sacrificing four cultists with Saint Traeton as your Apostle are all fast and devastatingly powerful, but cannot be summoned through regular means.
  • The Lost Woods: The Rotwood is a swampy forest area with north and east paths, meeting at a giant tree where a Flamethrower Hunter is fought as a miniboss.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When a boss is beaten, Dagon's tentacles seize them and rip them apart, spattering pixelated gore everywhere.
  • Optional Boss: The Witch can either be fought as a boss or let go, as you have no quarrel with her — and in fact share a mutual enemy in the Church. Killing her unlocks the Drowned unit, and sparing her unlocks the Black Cat unit.
  • Our Liches Are Different:
    • One of the unlockable units is the Lich, who spams weak magic attacks but whose true utility is her ability to use necromancy to turn slain enemies into ghosts - which are weak but fast and have a high Terror stat.
    • One of the unlockable Apostles, Saint Kristina Blavatsky, was a sorceress who was executed by the Old Church, but was resurrected by Dagon to serve as an undead acolyte.
    • The Lone Warden, boss of the Rotwood Forest level, is a lich Crusader who rides an undead horse and summons spectral hands and zombies to attack the player.
  • Hunter of Monsters:
    • High-level enemy units are classified as Hunters of the three noble houses and are immune to fear; including swordsmen, shotgun-wielding gunmen, and flamethrower-equipped goons.
    • The secret Apostle, El Huervo, is a powerful hunter who arrives on a ship and mows his way through a horde of Dagon's monsters with dual pistols, before eventually being overwhelmed and corrupted.
  • Mook Horror Show: The premise of the game is that the player controls the monsters and fights the monster hunters. Having a large enough horde and/or monsters with a high Terror stat will send most enemies screaming in terror.
  • Necromancer:
    • The Lich turns deceased enemies into ghosts that act as fast-moving melee units.
    • The Lone Warden is a lich allied with the Church who summons spectral hands and zombies to attack using the sigil of the Necronomicon.
  • Original Position Fallacy: The Archbishop is okay with Human Sacrifice to Dagon, until he is set to be the next sacrifice.
  • Port Town: The second level is the seaside village of Karlshaven, which has branching paths — one leading to the Deacon and the other to the Wharfmaster.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The trouble starts when the Archbishop of the Church of Dagon refuses to sacrifice himself when Dagon commands it; instead sacrificing countless prisoners, civilians, and amounts of gold in an attempt to appease Dagon's wrath. When Dagon's horde confronts him in his cathedral, the Archdeacon berates Dagon for having forsaken him and tries to destroy the sea-god's horde.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: One segment will have you in a train station where you have to avoid getting hit by a train while killing people. If the bell rings and the cantilever flashing lights flash on one of the tracks, you'll know where the incoming train is coming from.
  • Redshirt Army:
    • Most of the enemies fought early in the game are villagers armed with pitchforks, butcher knives, torches, pistols, and bows. These enemies are vulnerable to the Fear status effect, which causes them to flee if surrounded or confronted by monsters with a high Terror stat.
  • Reforged into a Minion: The secret Apostle, El Huervo, is an elite monster-hunter who mows his way through hordes of Dagon's minions only to be ultimately overwhelmed and corrupted by the eldritch god.
  • Religion of Evil: The Church of Dagon — aesthetically inspired by the Eastern Orthodox Church — worships the aquatic Old God, offering sacrifices in exchange for wealth and prosperity. Mention is made that the Church of Dagon started as a mere cult led by Saint Traeton before overthrowing the Old Church and supplanting it.
  • Secret Character: The Apostles are unlocked by beating specific tasks, but one is so out-of-the-way that unlocking him is very difficult. El Huervo is unlocked by beating the main game and watching the ending cutscene, waiting until a ship pulls in to port, playing as the newly disembarked Hunter and fighting off hordes of monsters, and finally reaching at the Cathedral, whereupon El Huervo is defeated and claimed by Dagon as an Apostle.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: Silaris, one of Dagon's Apostles, is called a Siren but is a mermaid with green skin and hair.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Swarm's card art depicts them as looking similar to the Zerglings from Starcraft, fittingly because their primary tactic is to surround and Zerg Rush opponents.
    • The flavor text for the Drowned unit contains one to Monty Python and the Holy Grail's witch scene.
      Before you may burn her, how does one make sure somebody is a witch? You must make sure she is made of wood. Wood floats! And ducks float! So is she sinks she must be human and if she floats she must be a witch to burn.
    • The Drowned's Tarot card shows her climbing out of a well with lank black hair framing her face.
    • The Creature is an unlockable unit that is a reference to Swamp Thing, being a swamp-dwelling humanoid plant-elemental that attacks opponents with long-reaching vines.
    • The Blavatsky Hunters' sword and outfit look remarkably similar to the Beastcutter and Hunter Set from Bloodborne, which was a major inspiration for the game.
    • The Thistle Guards are a fight against two towering heavily-armored knights, based off a scene from the Russian movie Hard to be a God.
  • Stationary Enemy: Watchtowers. They can't move but guard the area with a machine gun rotating around.
  • Summon Magic: Units are obtained by finding altars scattered across the levels or by accumulating enough gold. Additionally, if Saint Traeton is chosen as the Apostle then four cultists can be sacrificed to randomly summon a fire-spewing demon, a flying Oculothorax that shoots lasers, or a towering Cthulhumanoid that spews acid.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Averted. The room before the final boss only has pitchfork-wielding villagers for enemies and a bunch of civilians who can be killed to fill up the unit summoning icon several times over. This ultimately doesn't matter though, as the final boss is its own level.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: The Drowned is a Siege unit — an undead woman tried as a witch — that takes the form of a spectral floating woman with lank black hair and a ball-and-chain clasped to her ankle. The Drowned create a pool of water when activated, severely damaging enemy units and structures while also boosting the player units' speed and making them immune to fire damage inside its circumference.
  • Swamp Monster: The Creature is a humanoid plant-monster that is unlocked in the swamp region of Rotwood, attacking with long-reaching vines.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
    • Wharfmaster Glenn would be nearly invincible to melee troops due to swinging his anchor as an "Instant Death" Radius attack. However, he'll eventually throw out the anchor and be forced to slowly drag it back while being vulnerable.
    • The shield-using Thistle Guard Budakh is nearly impervious to attack, but every so often he'll use a long telegraphed attack before slamming it into the ground for a huge shockwave attack... that also leaves him tired and defenseless for a while.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Basic enemy melee and ranged units consist of unruly mobs of villagers, any of whom are armed with pitchforks.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The fishing village of Karlshaven — indeed, the entire kingdom of Karishamn — is inspired by The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and once worshipped Dagon in secret before the Old Church was overthrown.
  • Underwater Ruins: The tutorial level is set in the sunken Ruins of Xthu-Tho R'yal.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Civilians drop a significant amount of gold if killed, but will manage to escape if left to flee. Additionally, some civilians are mothers carrying infants... which they will drop on the ground at the first sign of danger. And you can eat the babies despite doing so accomplishing nothing but adding a few more red pixels.
  • Villain Protagonist: You play as Dagon, one of the Old Gods worshipped by the City of Karishamn, and control a horde of monsters that slaughters everything in its path — through innocent civilians can be spared.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As more of the land is destroyed and he loses lieutenants to his religion, the Archbishop gives speeches to the anxious populace full of platitudes that Dagon is testing their faith and that the crisis can be averted with sacrifice. He even sacrifices his own beloved pets as a show of solidarity to the faithful. But he becomes more frazzled as time goes on, knowing that Dagon is tearing his way through for the chosen sacrifices and getting ever closer to him. When Count Volgrave is killed, his acolyte attendant Baliev says that the wave of monsters is on their doorstep and they've given everything they can to stop the crisis. When Baliev says that their god is punishing them when they've only been faithful, the Archbishop shouts at him for his complaints before tiredly confessing what he heard at the well, that Dagon had demanded his life in sacrifice. Baliev calls him out on his unwillingness to end the crisis himself, citing all the lives lost in Dagon's vengeance and how nobody will ever pray to their god again with the Archbishop's actions that went counter to the very religion he lives by. When he draws a knife saying the whole crisis is his fault, the Archbishop wordlessly raises his staff and incinerates Baliev with a beam of energy.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Admiral Pierce is the first boss of the game and is easily taken down. His only attack is to fire cannonballs that leave flames, which can be avoided by keeping your units away and out of attack mode.
  • Was Once a Man: The Hermit units were once cultists who have mutated into mollusk-like monsters with three shells on their backs.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • The Swarm - which even resemble Zerglings — are best-used in this manner, surrounding enemies and attacking them from all sides.
    • If Saint Kristina Blavatsky is chosen as the Apostle, the Lich can use her ghosts to surround and overwhelm enemies provided enough of them are accumulated, a tactic best used against ranged hunters.