When you first start Klei Entertainment’s Griftlands, you can only play as Sal. The deadly bounty hunter is an excellent starting character. It uses a system of combos and finishers to knock down enemies with massive attacks in combat and does a great job of slow negotiations as you build your damage abilities. However, he is not the only character available. Like most modern roguelike deck builders, you can unlock two more that switch games in different ways.
The first character you unlock is Rook. Unlike Sal, he uses ranged attacks in combat. Because it uses future weapons, it has a charge meter that will allow you to increase damage over time. It’s a fun mechanic that lets you structure a package to keep your altitude meter high or emptying constantly. When negotiating, Rook has a special ability to have a coin that he can turn, which gives him different powers depending on which side of the coin he lands on. It’s a gamble, but you can gain abilities that manipulate the coin, giving you a huge advantage.
Fortunately, unlocking the tower is not too difficult. All you have to do is go through the first night of Sal’s search. If you play things safely on your first play, you’ll probably unlock Rook right away, giving you the ability to learn any character from the gate.
Unlocking Smith is very similar. This time you must go through the first night of Rook’s search. So if you really want to, you can unlock both characters in less than an hour. Smith is an interesting character that we would probably recommend you wait before you try it on, even if you unlock it earlier.
This is because Smith’s abilities tend to interact more and ask you to injure yourself to activate them. Before you try Smith, it’s better to learn the basics with Sal and Rook. As the seemingly most complicated of the three characters, you don’t want to beat yourself until you’re ready.
This means that in the right hands, Smith can be utterly deadly. His ability to plant Trauma enemies along with his regeneration makes him an impressive warrior. In addition, it is well connected in the world, which makes it easier to negotiate once you know what you are doing.
Of course, all three characters are completely viable. None of them is defeated compared to the others. You are free to choose who you want. We recommend playing a few runs with Salem to get your feet under you, and then try the other two to see who best suits your style of play.