Salvation has an open-world format and functions as a survival horror game mixed with elements of action RPGs, stealth and adventure games. In the game, the player takes control of a scientist named Matthew Raynor who is skilled in various fields ranging from surviving in rough conditions to weapons. Proficient in combat, Matthew is capable of defending himself easily from the threats he faces in the world. This allows for a dynamic gameplay experience as Matthew's training permits him to use anything at his disposal to complete objectives. For example, Matthew's experience as a scientist allows him to create offensive or defensive weapons with certain chemicals and ingredients he finds during his travels.
Another primary factor of the game is stealth. Sometimes, Matthew will be required to bypass enemies and areas where the direct approach would be suicide. Stealth sections of the game were paid much attention to to make the atmosphere more realistic. For example, not two enemies are alike and will have different qualities based on the situation they are in. Specific enemies have their own patrol patterns, particular reactions to events (an enemy may be more cowardly than most and may be more on edge if something peculiar is noticed by them), cooperate with one another and may even have difficulties staying focused if they are exhausted.
Situational/Subject Analysis Module (S.A.M.)
A notable feature in the game is the Situational/Subject Analysis Module, which serves as a means of recording information, learning about the environment through logs, and even the studying of individuals. This module was created by Matthew Raynor and can be used by the player to find out more about objects, get hints, and so on. Similarities include the Detective Mode feature in the Batman: Arkham series, the ARI glasses from Heavy Rain, and the Smart Vision augmentation in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Choices and Morality
Throughout Salvation, Matthew is presented with decisions that he must make in order to progress. These decisions directly affect how the story advances and how everything is wrapped up in the finale. Certain decisions can also change Matthew's sense of morality, making him into a beacon of human principles or an absolute fiend.
Healing and injuries
Throughout the game, Matthew will become injured in many ways and will require proper healing. Sometimes he may break a bone or suffer a burn, in which each specific injury would need its own form of treatment. The most basic form of healing is a medkit, which is capable of instantly nurturing any injuries. However, broken bones require time to heal and if the break is minor, the player has the option of physically setting the bone or putting it back in place at the expense of minor health loss.
If Matthew is shot, the player can use forceps or tweezers to remove the bullets. They can also clean up the wound and dress it properly. If the player is inadequate with healing Matthew, they will suffer major setbacks such as impaired movement, limited capability of fighting, increased hunger and thirst, and so on.
Hunger and thirst
In Salvation, Matthew must sustain himself with nutrients to survive longer in Gemini. Matthew's hunger and thirst are in the form of a meter which can be checked in the status screen. Matthew can eat and drink anything just so long as it is clean enough to consume. If it isn't, Matthew can suffer consequences such as illness, which can greatly impede how he functions. Matthew can also suffer consequences if he is starving or too thirsty.
On some of the more demanding difficulty settings, Matthew will not only have a hunger/thirst system, but a sleep meter, which can be drained by doing strenuous activities. If Matthew does not get an adequate amount of sleep, the player can suffer major repercussions such as slower movement and blurred vision.
The game takes place in 2064 and is set in a city-state known as Gemini.
The events leading into the game's storyline are not fully explained and only hints and other references seem to explain what caused the creation of the Scions. With everything compiled, the game's backstory seemed to involve some sort of biological agent that was unleashed in Europe. This agent, sometimes called the "Crimson Fog" or HGHA-1, manipulated the DNA of those infected and inadvertently caused forced evolutions to occur. Upon these evolutions, the infected were not the same. Instead, they became grotesque mutants who essentially managed to destroy modern civilization. Following this, those who survived attempted to fortify cities that remained intact and also established survival hubs called Sanctuaries, where almost half of humanity's remnants reside.
- Matthew Raynor: A scientist who is tasked with assembling the prototype for a cure against the Scions and the main protagonist.
- Silas Alabaster: The commander of the Gemini regiment of ARIOCH and the main antagonist.
- ARIOCH: A military organization that has taken over as the new government of the United States.
Themes and motifs
Salvation is rife with many religious references and symbolism. For example, the sanctuaries are akin to that of actual holy sanctuaries. Other references follow:
- The Kether currency used by ARIOCH is a reference to the Hebrew word "crown", which is the topmost of the Sephirot of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah.
- The name Matthew means "Gift of God" in Hebrew.
- The word "arioch" means "fierce lion" in Hebrew.
- ARIOCH's symbol is that of a lion, further adding to its allusion.
- Matthew's journey is frequently compared to that of a quest of a holy hero.
- The Scions are often compared to demons or spawns of Satan.
- Matthew's assistance of random people across Gemini can be likened to the actions of Jesus Christ during his travels.
- Matthew's overall role in the story (if he is on a positive moral path) has parallels to Jesus' importance to humanity before his crucifixion.
As stated before, the game will present many opportunities for the player to make a decision and change the outcome of situations and even the story itself. The following are all the possible choices the player can make:
- Enter Gemini: Matthew will find himself standing before the main entrance to Gemini, which is heavily guarded by what seems to be armed militia members. The player has the option of:
- Using brute force to get their way inside.
- Finding a more practical means of getting into the city. After some exploring, the player will find a hole that was left by artillery and sneak through.
- Mugging: Matthew will sometimes be the witness of a mugging. The player can:
- Stop the mugger.
- Allow the mugger to flee.
- Rape: Matthew may come across a woman targeted by a rapist. The player can:
- Ignore it.
- Assassination: At times, Matthew may spot an individual preparing to kill another by surprise. The player can:
- Warn the target.
- Save the target.
- Allow the target to be killed.
- Public Execution: ARIOCH soldiers will often execute innocent people in full view of the public. The player can:
- Stop the soldiers.
- Let the execution happen.
- Glock 29
- Metal pipe
- Pipe bomb
- Loose change
- Smoke ball
- Shard of glass
- Baseball bat
- No Greetings Necessary: Welcome to Gemini.
- Where No Man Has Gone Before: Navigate the entire city of Gemini and discover all prominent locations.
- Snatcher of Snatchers: Foil 50 muggings.
- Exterminate This: Prevent 75 executions.
- Braver: Complete all possible sidequests.
- They All Fall Down: Cause 100 enemies to plummet to their deaths.
- Calling Dr. Raynor: Heal every possible ailment or injury you could get.
- Medium Rare: Roast 100 Scions.
- Hail Raynor: Kill 100 enemies with blindfire tactics.
In Salvation, the player is given the opportunity to make choices that can have an effect on the game. Whether it's rescuing an innocent or changing the playing field at large, the player is almost always presented with options that can have consequences; both good and bad. One of these consequences is how Matthew's morality and reputation rank. Noble choices and other actions will positively affect Matthew's morality and reputation while choices and actions that are nefarious in nature will affect Matthew's morality and reputation in a negative manner.
Loading screen hints and tips
- If you have a gun and are in a confrontation with a human enemy, you can use it to intimidate them... given that the enemy doesn't have a gun of their own.
- Certain Scions (such as Pyros) cannot be eliminated with stealth kills.
- Various objects such as bricks can make good projectile weapons or distractions.
- Restricted areas usually have ARIOCH soldiers patrolling them.
- Grenades can be used to clear out a large group of enemies.
- Beserkers are known for their signature charge. Be cautious.
- Lost and don't know what to do next? Use your S.A.M. to locate the next objective or find clues in the environment that can progress the mission.
- Without proper coercion, some people will be reluctant to give you information.
- The S.A.M. cannot detect Spectres when they are invisible.
- Scion behavior has become a topic of educational study and even scientific investigation. Under these academics, Scion behavior as a collective is known as "Sciopsychlogy".
- Broken bones can inhibit your movement or ability to handle weapons.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages can reward you with temporary health and resistance buffs. However, drinking too much can hinder you severely.
- Adrenaline shots can give you temporary speed and reflex buffs.
- On "Survivor" difficulty, ammunition and other supplies are very scarce, enemies are tougher and more intelligent, and your hunger/thirst system is harder to maintain.
- Soda can keep you awake, but it can also dehydrate you. Keep an eye on your thirst meter.
- Due to widespread disorder across the United States, a unilateral currency has not yet been formed. As a result, any city or community can function with their own independent economy. Gemini, for example, has the Beryl dollar.
- Various regions of Gemini remain unexplored. What lies in those uncharted territories is yours to discover.