Salt and Sanctuary got its 14th play through. Or something like that. It is easy to lose track of play throughs in Souls likes – they pile up pretty quickly or come in bursts. This particular play through had been on my mind for a while, and while in the context of Salt and Sanctuary it was nothing special – a strength based Greatsword character is the meat and potatoes of Salt and Sanctuary – the play through has personal importance to me.
This run was a Sodden Knight Cosplay. I have mentioned in the past what happened when I first met the Sodden Knight. A quick refresher. Salt and Sanctuary was my introduction to Souls type games. I did not know what I was doing or what the majority of items did, and I died 39 times to the Sodden Knight. The first boss. It takes a special effort to die 39 times to a first boss. It is a wonder I did not quite the game (and Souls games in general) there and then. But then the rest of the game went smoothly, more or less and I gained an appreciation for the tough love lessons I got from the Sodden Knight.
Also, this solidified my love of these games. To get stonewalled 39 times and keep coming back clearly means I saw something worth pushing towards. 39 deaths are a lot.
Also, a brief aside. If anyone stumbles upon this blog and they are struggling with their first Souls or Souls like game, it does get better. Since this I have completed Dark Souls III with only one death, done some deathless Bloodborne runs and done Sword Saint Isshin without taking damage. Sekiro is not a Souls like, but it fits here in terms of getting better at something. It does get better.
This led to an appreciation of the Sodden Knight which gradually turned into a love. A bizarre love based on an absolute shit kicking. If this was in real life I would be seeing a therapist about it. This love was never fully acted upon. I wore his armour at various points but never consistently. I used plenty of big swords, but never his big sword. I did wear the armour at the end of a run when I finally finished Salt and Sanctuary’s bestiary but that was the closest I came to a substantial commitment to becoming the Sodden Knight. Then I thought I was done with greatsword runs and the cosplay idea went dormant. But I got a second wind, picked up a greatsword once more and got to work on becoming the Sodden Knight.
A quick shout out here to the Raider Armour. I picked the Raider Armour as a go between armour because it is on the heavy armour tree and the item description states, “The reanimated drowned remains of a barbaric raider, adorned in salt-crusted furs and armed to the teeth with crude axes.” The description of the Sodden Knight reads, “The stoic protector of The Festering Banquet, the Sodden Knight bears decades of dried sea air on his tattered shroud.” Until I could carry the Sodden Knights amour, the Raider Armour subbed into great effect. And while I eventually got to wear the Sodden Knights Armour, the Raiders efforts are still massively appreciated.
This play through, at least game play wise was not that different to the majority of Greatsword runs. Okay it was no different. But because I was acting as one of my favourite bosses and the wellspring of my love of Souls and games of that ilk, both in visuals and spirt I had an absolute blast. Visually it is simple – I looked like the guy. In and of itself that is cool. The Sodden Knight has a great suit of armour. Plus, he has a cape. I love capes. I know in real life they are incredibly impractical for combat but that doesn’t matter in video game land, and they look fly. And the Sodden Knight has a great cape.
As for in sprit, the description of the Shrouded Bulwark reads, “This colossal greatsword once belonged to Sir Francis the Resolute, a martyred hero of Tristin who later arose in cursed undeath as the Sodden Knight. Sir Francis detested shields and spurned them with utter contempt, earning renown for decimating enemy ranks with his two-handed fighting style while clad from head to toe in impenetrably heavy armour.” Swinging a greatsword with complete and utter abandon is the greatest pleasure in Salt and Sanctuary, and watching enemies fly off screen and disintegrate into clouds of blood and ash is wonderfully cathartic.
All of this sword swinging reached a peak when during the course of one night (not in order) the Kraekan Wyrm, the Tree of Men, the Untouched Inquisitor, the Third Lamb, The Disembowelled Husk (no hit even), The Dried King, Murdiella Mal and The Stench Most Foul and god knows how many regular enemies all met their end via the blade of the Shrouded Bulwark with not a shield in sight. Thinking about a night like that, and how I started this game by dying 39 times to the first boss to slaying that many bosses in a single night (and not a death to one of them), that feels good. And doing all donning the armour and sword of the Sodden Knight, glorious.
I do not know if this was my final Salt and Sanctuary character, but it feels like it could be. There was a sense of finality. Well, finality regarding a full run. I still have not killed the Unspeakable Deep but that requires me to make a new character to fight it every time which, I am not going to lie, is massively frustrating. But in terms of a character with an identity or a focus, this Sodden Knight cosplay feels like the closing of a cycle, a bookend. Coming back to the first fight which helped to birth my love of a specific type of game. It would be a good way to bow out from the Isle of Salt.
Notes and Asides:
A quick note on the character creation. The Sodden Knight has a name, Sir Francis the Resolute. He was from a place called Tristin. He was a martyred hero, reborn in undeath to guard the Festering Banquet. The character creator has an option to select a person from Tristin, so that was done. In terms of the Covenant though, I chose the Iron Ones. They are from Markor, which is not Tristin. But it is the Covenant that allows warriors to adorn their weapons with lighting buffs. And the Sodden Knight uses lighting powers so in terms of that it felt right. What the Sodden Knight uses is more of a lighting spell, but his spell is not in the game for the player to use and since he focuses on using his greatsword, that is the route I went with lighting damage buffs replacing the spell.