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Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeGamingTest Sand Land, a game made of magical sand for manga fans

Test Sand Land, a game made of magical sand for manga fans

Recently, fans of manga and Japanese culture had to say goodbye to one of the greatest artists of his time: Akira Toriyama. The one who was nicknamed the father of Dragon Ball did not live only from this single work, quite the contrary. Long before this tragic event, Bandai Namco chose to select its next project from the mangaka’s portfolio. The game Sand Land was born from this idea.

Adapted from the manga of the same name, Sand Land is an open world game that promises us devilishly effective adventures. We play Beelzebub, the Prince of demons, in an almost apocalyptic world plagued by widespread drought. Far from completely reinventing the universe, Bandai Namco uses it to its advantage to go further in its subject, by emphasizing playability and interactivity. The result is a title that seems made of magic sand. Explanation in this test of Sandland.

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Like magic sand, Sand Land is cool and original

Bandai Namco is no stranger to manga. The studio has already adapted the biggest names in the industry: Jujutsu Kaisen, Naruto, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, etc. Even the Dragon Ball were entitled to this privilege, often in the form of fighting games. Even if this genre fits rather well into the universe of the franchise, Sand Land required slightly different treatment. The title tells the story of how a human, Sheriff Rao, joins forces with demons in a quest to save all living things in the area.

Water is sorely lacking and there may be a secret spring, the subject of many legends. The sheriff thinks he can find it using his knowledge of the land, but asks Beelzebub for help to survive in these arid lands. So far the narration fits perfectly with the work of Akira Toriyama. We find endearing characters, in the sympathetic story of an unexpected friendship and a greater proof of humanity than what we thought coming from demonic beings by definition.

© Bandai Namco

We were really touched by the themes addressed in the game which explores the consequences of this drought on an individual as well as collective scale. The emphasis on narration is found in the (too many?) numerous dialogues with the multitude of characters present. Many stand out for their strong character, while others simply populate a world already devoid of flora.

The possibilities seem endless…

To make its game attractive, Bandai Namco opted for an open world ready to be explored. A main quest supports the whole, but the player is free to go wherever he wants, and to interact with everything around him. This is how certain side quests can be triggered, adding lore and substance to the main story, although nothing really seems to connect to it. These missions all seem optional as possible, and rather serve as a filler function for a second part of the game.

Sand Land Test (2)
© Bandai Namco

In addition to the exploration encouraged by the narrative, the player can contribute to the well-being of an emerging city named Spino. This is rebuilt through meetings and missions accomplished in the world of Sand Landallowing you to unlock businesses and other secondary activities, very useful for progressing your characters and improving your equipment.

The title even has a part that will delight fans of interior decoration since it is possible to furnish your little home with purchased or crafted furniture. Was this feature necessary for enjoying the game? Absolutely not. But we feel that Bandai Namco has planned to cast a wide net with this opus.

…and yet, after sandcastles, what else to do?

Despite a good effort on all the additions to the original work, we must admit that Sand Land suffers from a slight rhythm problem. Moving from one mission to another seems slower than it should be, leaving room for dialogue, certainly, but above all for boredom. This is why the studio intersperses these long moments with a few fights with monsters on the loose. But they all come together and are similar, creating a certain redundancy in some segments of the game. Nothing that really spoils the pleasure of playing, but rather attenuates the enthusiasm of knowing more about the story.

It should also be noted that Bandai Namco takes the word “freedom” literally. There is no question here of a forced or even guided exploration. The indicators on the map do not, however, lead to the creation of a recommended route, which sometimes gives rise to hiccups in understanding or improvised alternative routes. We love the fact that we can climb almost anywhere to find chests and rare coins scattered throughout the open world.

Sand Land Test (3)
© Bandai Namco

Visually, the studio opts for a very drawn appearance, with big pencil strokes and an atmosphere of Borderlands. We thus find the manga side adapted so much so that the models seem to have been made by the hand of their creator. The environments all look the same – not surprising for a desert – although things improve in the second part of the game, the details of which we will not reveal here for the sake of spoilers.

Staying moving is key

To be able to move to the four corners of the desert expanse, the studio wanted to place particular emphasis on vehicles. Sand Land gives you at the start of the game the possibility of driving an off-road car, which quickly becomes necessary so as not to waste too much time. But the challenges you will have to overcome require other vehicles with different capabilities. After just a few hours, you will have at your disposal an arsenal of motorized machines, equipped with advanced weapons for the enemies who will rise against you.

Sand Land Test (1)
© Bandai Namco

All vehicles are quite easy to use, and you won’t have to worry about fuel or ammo. Despite everything, we welcome the possibility of being able to craft your means of transport using the (many) parts that you find, including the chassis which are obligatory. Spino’s garage very quickly becomes the converging point at the end of each chapter and we take pleasure in making the next exploration machine.

Thanks to this part of the game, the studio further strengthens its RPG side which tends to get lost in the character level. It is possible to increase their abilities by obtaining skills following a specific tree like any game of the genre. However, some of these skills ruin the whole point of having a difficulty with their simplicity. This makes us say that the target of Sand Land is probably between manga fans and casual gamers, although it’s enjoyable no matter your level.

Pre-order Sand Land

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer. Always interested in the way in which technology can change people's lives, and that is why I also advise individuals and companies when it comes to adopting all the advances in Apple devices and services.


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