Second, game diary. Salt and Sanctuary is fucking awesome.
As in it's... better than I could have hoped. I was only able to put an hour into it last night, and this evening has been occupied with familial responsibilities, so that hour represents the current length and breadth of my experience with the title. I cut my way through the opening section and explored a deliciously dark, gothic and profoundly vertical castle tower. At the top I met the Sodden Knight - a massive bruiser with a shield bigger than I am, and a sword that would make Cloud Strife realize he'd spent his life undercompensating. A single swat of his blade would send me flying and knock off a big chunk of my health, and when first we met he kicked the ever-loving shit out of me.
"You'll beat him," Kayla told me, confident. She was right - and when he went down I exhaled a great gust of relief, looked at her and said
"Y'know what that felt like?"
"Like beating a boss in Dark Souls?"
I will say that, for that hour, it was far easier than any Souls game you've ever played. I wonder if and expect that it'll ramp things up, now, having completed its introduction, and I'm dying to keep platforming my way through its depressing depths.
...but it's exactly what I wanted it to be. Like, it is the original pitch that first made my heart skip a beat: 2D platforming Dark Souls. It's Dark Souls, in style, structure and design to the Nth degree, to the point that some reviewers actually suggest they're disappointed by how closely it reflects From Software's playbook - but for my money, the fact that a little (two-person!!!) indie studio effectively recreated the uneasy exploration, vicious thrill and glorious victories of Souls when a studio with triple-A aspirations couldn't is astounding.
So I am dying to keep platforming through Dark Souls, but I'm also acutely aware that I am dying to have it on Vita, first and foremost. I almost don't want to play it just so I can have my first run through on my favorite platform - but it's not like my favorite platform is hurting for games either.
I am, actually, really surprised by how good-looking Estival Versus is on my Vita. Haven't fired it into my PS4 yet (I've got enough to play there, too!), but the Vita version is just shockingly sharp and detailed when compared to Shinovi Versus, which was already a strangely graphically-impressive game to begin with. One senses a framerate that's not quite as buttery smooth as its predecessor, but Senran Kagura's simplified combat doesn't require sixty frames. It's just nice to have, is all, and if I want it, I can get it on PS4.
On Vita, Estival Versus is simultaneously more of the same and one of the more impressively confident triple-As on the system. Tamsoft went all-out for Estival, with a ton of full anime cutscenes and what feels like three times the amount of story preceding and following every mission you're going to undertake. There are some small changes, here and there - the girls' personal mission series are now gatekept behind completion in the main story mode, Hibari's butt-stomp is no longer the single most powerful attack in the game, parrying has become more important and the girls can now wall run, but for my money the most welcome addition is the way your super-awesome ninja arts are handled in Estival.
In Shinovi Versus, you would see a (skippable, in-engine) dramatic-angle cutscene of your hero executing their super, and then it would execute in the game world and kick the shit out of your foes. In Estival, the camera swoops in to show your hero striking a badass pose, and they execute the move with the camera zooming around them to frame it perfectly - it's not separate, it doesn't cut away from the flow of the action, and it looks absolutely phenomenal.
How they pulled this off on Vita is kind of beyond me, when some companies can't get a framerate this good on PS4 with a 2D pixel-art shooter.
So yeah. Very happy with this week's new releases. But let's talk news, shall we? There's been a lot.
First of all, here's the launch trailer for Estival Versus.