Sand Land Review - A Charming Adaptation 34534

Sand Land Review – A Charming Adaptation

When Bandai Namco revealed Sand Land there was a lot of interest, and speculation. Unlike most anime/manga games, Sand Land‘s story takes place over 14 chapters. This was expanded a bit with the anime, which is set to have a total of 13 episodes. Given the series is closer to a setting it has the potential to avoid some of the pitfalls commonly seen with this style of game. With so much going for it, along with being one of the last things the legendary Akira Toriyama worked on, is it worthy of being part of his legacy, or should we allow the sands of time to bury it?

Sand Land follows the same plot of the anime/manga. After a natural disaster, water becomes an incredibly valuable commodity. With those in power using it to hoard wealth, Sherif Rao approaches Beelzebub and the demons to aid him in finding another source and end the chaos.

Sand Land Review - A Charming Adaptation 34534

Despite sounding rather simple, the narrative is rather engrossing. It’s a simple story that reaches a satisfying conclusion without overstaying its welcome. To help things along a lot of Toriyama’s humor is present. It feels like a loving adaptation, one that works extremely well in this medium. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about gameplay.

Simply put, Sand Land is a jack of all trades, but a master of none of them. I don’t think this approach is bad per se, as the experience requires multiple different gameplay sections, it just makes playing feel underwhelming at times.

Sand Land Review - A Charming Adaptation 34534

Video Games are a Strong Motivator

This is perhaps best seen with the stealth sections. Usually stealth games encourage players to be cautious, learn routines, and carefully plan out each move. As for Sand Land, it really doesn’t matter. I could run across a base, jump on buildings, or scale mountains without getting caught.

Most of the time the AI is blissfully unaware of any action short of literally running in front of a light by them. It makes the whole section feel like busy work with fun animations. Even when Sand Land tries to change things up, such as obstacles along the way, it feels more superficial than engaging.

Combat is another section that could use some fine tuning. On a basic level attacks are rather straightforward. There is a normal, heavy, special attacks, and even a finisher. Each has a lot of charm due to Beelzebub’s exaggerated poses, but it feels rather hollow.

Sand Land Review - A Charming Adaptation 34534

Avoid the Geji Dragon!

Enemies either fold faster than paper, or are unstoppable juggernauts. The latter is particularly underwhelming as enemies force defensive action by simply withstanding attacks. It’s kind of like having a punching bag that sometimes forces a dodge. It never hits the point of being terrible, if only due to the fact enemies are so varied, but it would be nice to see a more robust system.

Outside of combat/stealth are driving sections. These are not particularly great with the car, though this is forgivable given it’s quickly swapped for a tank. The slower speed makes the tank easier to handle, though it almost feels too powerful.

Sand Land Review - A Charming Adaptation 34534

Initially the tank easily overwhelms any hostile force out there. Humans die in seconds, cars might withstand one blast, to even larger threats struggling to keep up. Long term more vehicles can be unlocked, and customized to aid in combat. Some of these are also a lot of fun, such as the robot, due to the faster paced combat.

While players increase in power, so do enemies. This encourages exploration to find additional resources, and build your ideal vehicles. Certain situations can also be adapted for to ensure you never quite fall behind.

Sand Land Review Verdict

SAND LAND: At its core I think Sand Land gives a satisfying experience. The narrative is good, gameplay is varied, and there are nice touches like customization. It would be nice to see further refinement, but these choices are understandable given how many different mechanics are present. Something that is further enhanced by notable set pieces that stand out from the rest. Mark

von 10

Editor’s Note: Sand Land was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.

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