Since its reveal, all I can think about is how much I want to play Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin. Over the years, I’ve been able to play it at events, but these vertical slices were never enough for my demand to play more. Well, my wish has finally come true, and within the first hours of gameplay, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin not only sets up a charming adventure but is also full of surprises when it comes to its gameplay systems.
For the uninitiated, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin sets up a story of a banished deity princess who must look after a group of humans as she finds a way to get back home. The game’s opening does a great job of setting up the character’s personality and teaching the basic controls, which goes a long way as the other mechanics are introduced later on.
One thing I’ve always felt was that Sakuna’s fighting system is exceptionally fluid and balanced. Squaring off against a group of enemies becomes an almost choreographed scene of action and maneuvering. The battle mechanics revolve around a scarf that can attach itself to enemies and the environment. You see, Sakuna isn’t incredibly fast on her feet, but using the scarf changes everything.
Still, I’ve seen the battle systems before, so I was looking forward to gardening and mission structure. As Sakuna, players must take care of her human group. However, they aren’t that special and actually hinder her in a few ways, which forces her to be a leader. As lazy and reluctant to do anything as Sakuna is, she seems to love to show off her versatility in hunting and gathering and growing the food.
All resources are needed to increase the livability of this group. As the days pass, Sakuna will set out, collect materials, and bring them back to be used to build new instructions or make for a nice meal. Everyone seems to be learning together; even though Sakuna does the heavy lifting, each of the humans wants to lend help where they can.
Gardening is probably the most adorable and tedious mechanic in the game. Players will need to handle all of the actions of lining up the seeds, grabbing a handful, and planting them one at a time. In the end, you’re graded on how you did, but the responsibilities don’t end there. Players must control the water flow, pull weeds, and even make their own fertilizer. It seems like a lot, but honestly, everything is condensed in a way that is manageable and respectful of your time.
I found the most pleasure when I wasn’t trying to rush through the chapters. It’s possible to replay levels as often as you wish to gather needs resources or find secrets. This also unlocks new areas but progresses the time of day. When night comes around enemies, become more difficult, and you may even get hungry, limiting health restoration. There’s a balance while playing, but I’ve found the most enjoyment merely reading what the group talks about over dinner.
As I play further into Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, the battle system becomes more complicated with added skills, weapons, passive abilities, and more formidable enemies. I definitely look forward to growing my garden and learning more about this fantasy world. It seems that the story is building up to something intense, so I’m hoping it pays off. For now, I’ve got some rice to attend to.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on November 10.
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