Till we eat again.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a side-scrolling action game that’s complemented by a robust crafting/cooking and farming sim. It’ll be released on November 10th in both digital and retail formats, including a limited Divine Edition.
I first met Sakuna back at E3 2019, and apparently was already exhausted from the very notion of the work ahead.
I remember liking the fluid movement and the vivid graphics in the hands-on demo, but was otherwise not terribly moved.
Now that I’ve been able to try out a full preview, consider me terribly moved. I’ve spent a few days now playing Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin on the Nintendo Switch, and here are my early bullet-point impressions of the full game.
- The story begins when Sakuna (for entertainment purposes only) helps a band of human travelers cross the bridge into the Lofty Realm of gods. This sets off a chain of events that sees them all banished to an island beset with demons.
- Sakuna is not happy about this, as she’s kind of a spoiled brat. In fact, she sounds peculiarly similar to Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph. She has the type of voice that could grate on your nerves throughout the game, but we’ll see.
- That carries over to the kids who inhabit the island with you. I point this out only because there doesn’t seem to be an option to switch the spoken language while keeping English subtitles—something I often do when the voice acting annoys me.
- The graphics, on the other hand, are stellar. The lush colors and stylized artwork bring the island to life in a way that’ll leave you wondering why you spend so much time on “retro” graphics games. I’m certain I haven’t come close to meeting all of the monsters and demons in the game, but those I have fought have been distinctive and fun.
- Combat mainly consists of one- and two-handed attacks with your farming tools (yes). You can assign special attacks to the A button as you learn them, while also creating combos with your X and Y attacks. B, of course, jumps.
- You have to be careful with this. You can get yourself caught in a combo when you’d rather jump to safety, or you can even combo your way straight into a spiked wall.
- Of course, being a god, you also have the power of a divine raiment. This can be used to attack, to access difficult-to-reach areas, to flip to the other side of the enemy, and more.
- The combat system is explained well throughout the beginning, and there is a training area to help you get started and master new techniques.
- Surprisingly, combat is only half the game, if that. Farming isn’t just a gimmick or a mini-game here; it’s key to your survival. You’re going to spend a lot of time cultivating rice.
- Oddly, there’s little instruction provided at the beginning of this process. When I was first told to plant rice in the field, I had no idea what I was doing. It was only when I was done that the game told me I planted it too far apart. It becomes apparent, however, that you’re meant to learn the process along with Sakuna. As she gets better, the system starts to provide you with more clues. For example, when planting during the second season, I was suddenly awarded with a grid that helped me properly distance the rice. Thankfully, the game allows you to set the combat and farming difficulties separately in case one or the other is giving you difficulty.
- The rice you harvest, the materials you acquire, and the food you accumulate are all used to help Sakuna level up so she can further explore the island and overcome the enemies she meets along the way.
There’s plenty more to discuss here, but I’ll save it for the full review. In the meantime, I’ve played enough to know that if you’ve been even mildly interested in Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, you have reason to be excited. The balance and relationship between combat and farming are effective, and both are equally entertaining.