Salt reminds me to two things, mainly, the first being that one episode of Survivorman where Les Stroud get stranded on a tropical island. He ends up kicking back on a beach and munching on shellfish and coconuts, ready to extend his stay if need be. If you’re going to be alone, fend for yourself, and live off the land, then there are certainly worse places to do it.
Surviving in the ambiently occluded procedural archipelago of Salt feels like that. You wander, you sail, you hunt, and the setting often feels as much like a remote vacation spot as it does a wilderness. There are potential dangers, sure—pirates!—but there’s also a general sense of abundance and abiding calm.
The other thing Salt reminds me of—and this is high praise indeed—is the old alpha build of Minecraft, back in the days when Minecraft was the nicheiest of niche pursuits rather than the most mainest of mainstream hits. A lot of the game is still empty space, yet to be filled in—which lends the experience an alluring air of uncoiled potential, and makes discovering each new gameplay element into something giddy and oddly personal.
If you’re looking for a finished, fleshed-out survival game, then I can’t really recommend Salt to you just yet. But if you yearn for the days when Minecraft was new and unlike anything else, then I’m happy to report that, for me, the Early Access build of Salt has managed to bottle a little of that elusive lightening. It’s a joy to simply wander the environment—beautiful to look at, and evocative of nature, but presented through a distinctly artificial and videogamey filter—and it’s peppered with the beginnings of promising systems.
This is one to watch, and I’ll be sticking with it with great anticipation (though a calm and hushed kind of anticipation) as it grows.