Indie JRPG Review

Woodsalt – Review | A JRPG If You Remove The Gameplay

When I first heard of Woodsalt, I was immediately hooked. A psychological adventure game in the style of a 90’s JRPG? Sign me up. I am a 90’s kid after all, and anything that panders to my aging sense of nostalgia is fine by me. Let’s face it, that decade was a groundbreaking sequence of consecutive solar cycles that spawned everything from Final Fantasy VII, to Persona

About a millennia ago, Earth as we know it went to pot. Surprisingly it wasn’t the fault of us, but instead a race of malevolent monstrosities who were hellbent on our destruction. What was left hopped aboard Noah’s Ark-esque spaceships and scattered amongst the cosmos. Your ship landed on a planet dubbed Nu-Terra, and life has continued in relative peace. You are awoken from stasis on the cusp of returning to OG-Earth, and things start taking a turn for the worse. 

Woodsalt starts strong. The world it builds is enticing. Things start getting freaky from the get-go, and it is not long before you are introduced to a cast of interesting and varied characters. Splice in a healthy dose of murder, mystery, politics, and things start getting spicy. Your decisions also have quite the impact, and what you say to people can have catastrophic ramifications. So far, everything seems hunky-dory.

Woodsalt - Awake

It’s All Downhill From Here…

That is, of course, until you factor in the gameplay. For all of its narrative strengths, Woodsalt starts to fall apart once you start to engage in the actual game. Nu-Terra is a small-ish town you can explore. There are NPC’s to chat to, various locations to mosey around, and plenty of optional events/conversations to partake in. The problem is, outside of the optional nattering, everything is pointless. NPC’s never have anything interesting to say, every location is a shell with nothing to interact with. There is nothing here but walking to the next story event – mainline or not.

This is probably one of the weirdest things I have ever written, but in Woodsalt, walking is a barrier to progression. Because there is nothing but walking and talking – and only half of that is interesting – it felt like I was just going through the motions and hoping that whatever direction I picked resulted in a story segment. I did my little circuit each day, hoping what’s-his-face and whoever-that-lass-is had generated a new piece of character development for me to engage with, and it dragged. 

Dragged being an incredibly accurate word that can be applied to multiple facets of the game’s execution. When I was not hauling my arse around Nu-Terra I was consciously aware of the game’s pacing – which is all over the place. The game is rather short, although it does sport multiple endings, so I was shocked to find that the story couldn’t maintain a consistent level of interest. The beginning and the runup to the end are great, but the middle was simply tedious. Which is honestly a testament to how interesting of a game Woodsalt is because that tedium was spawned by a desire to progress the plot.

Woodsalt - Weird
Is This Really A JRPG?

Ultimately, when you take something like a JRPG and remove everything but the story, what you have done is stripped the game of its gameplay. Where Woodsalt fails then, is not recognizing that you cannot remove the gameplay from a JRPG and leave its desiccating husk and expect it to be dandy. The game would have been ideal in a different medium – one that removed the corpse Woodsalt left behind. It would have been a wonderful visual novel.

What truly ruined the game, however, was the myriad of bugs that permeate the whole experience. The game would frequently become unresponsive after cutscenes, meaning I had to skip them entirely and miss key character development. Thankfully, these were mostly optional cutscenes. Mostly. I never got the chance to fully complete Woodsalt, as the game broke for me. It autosaved during what I assumed was the final cutscene and then crashed halfway through. Because the game only has one save slot, that savefile is bricked as I simply cannot get past it. It boasts multiple endings, and I have yet to see even one.

In terms of presentation, Woodsalt is quite a mixed bag. It looks like it was forged in the now-cool fires of the PSP-era, which is not exactly a compliment. The game looks basic. The world is split into rather small segments that are gated by surprisingly long, crash-prone loading screens. The game also has very limited animations, which is noticeable anytime anyone is required to interact with an object – like a chair. This mediocrity is supported by a truly awful soundtrack that I assume was intended to be disturbingly repetitive. It ground my gears something rotten by the end, and I muted the game as a result.


Woodsalt is a mystery wrapped in an enigma tied together with a riddle. A bizarre little title that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, and therefore has a tendency to elicit a sense of confusion as to why it exists in its current form at all. Its story is genuinely interesting at times – despite pacing issues – but I think it would have been better served as a visual novel. What really killed the game for me, however, was the numerous bugs that took me out of the experience. They halted progress and inevitably broke the game and prevented me from achieving even one of the many endings this game seemingly offers. In its current state, I simply cannot recommend it. If it ever gets fixed, then this might be worth a look. Until then, however…


Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC

Enjoy JRPGs? You might be interested to read this review of Death end re;Quest 2.

Many thanks to Team Woodsalt for providing a Nintendo Switch review key for this title.

If you’d like to see more articles from us, please remember to follow us on Twitter🐦 and consider turning notifications on. Or type in your E-mail address and click the button for free email updates. You can also come chat with us on Discord.

Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage

Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!