[Preview] Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Edelweiss
  • Publisher: Marvelous (XSEED)
  • Release Date: 10/11/2020
  • Price: £34.99 / $39.99
  • Preview code provided by Marvelous (XSEED)

Introducing Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin Preview

People have been talking about Sakuna for some time, but it wasn’t until one of the recent Japanese Nintendo directs that it really caught my attention. The art style popped and the action looked very tight. It immediately went from ‘not on my list’ to ‘must-see’! Now, I’ve had a few days to experiment with it and I’ve got quite a few takeaways to dish out.

Rice is Life, Rice is Love

Sakuna starts out on a rather dire note as a group of misfits are on the run from an unseen enemy. They are stopped by their assailants before being rescued by Sakuna, accidently… Not to spoil the story, but chaos follows as these misfits follow Sakuna home into the realm of the Gods. More mischief ensues and it leads to this rag-tag group and Sakuna being stranded on the Isle of Demons.

This is where the game really begins, as you must explore the island while gathering materials and hunting demons. On the flip side, you also need to cultivate the land and grow rice. Why? Because a healthy harvest gives Sakuna power as a goddess of agriculture.

No More Mr. Rice Guy

Gameplay is split between exploration sections and farming sections. The exploration takes place on a 2D plane and is heavy on combat. Sakuna can use both light and heavy attack and has some small combos. What gives her the real advantage is her raiment. Her flowing scarf-like piece of cloth can be used to stick to walls or dodge quickly behind enemies. While it takes some time getting used to, the raiment certainly adds an extra depth to platforming and combat.

The farming elements take place in the home base area of the Isle of Demons. As someone who isn’t used to these titles, there is a difficulty option that allows you to adjust both sections accordingly. I chose to take the Harvest Moon sections on a lower difficulty. Doing so probably made these sections more forgiving, but I still had to make sure my seedlings received proper care.

This involved tilling, planting, spreading fertilizer, managing water levels and pulling weeds. After a successful cycle, the game is based on four small seasons, which take place over a period of a few in-game days, you are ready to harvest. Harvesting involves simple mini-games which make the monotony of real-life farming more enjoyable.

Rice to Meet You

Within the first few hours, I noticed that combat can be a bit unforgiving at times, especially if there are fangs (spikes) present. Falling into a fang pit can severely damage Sakuna, and healing items aren’t present. Although I did recently discover that you can get regenerative abilities based on the meals you eat at night. This is vital as it can be the deciding factor on surviving an encounter or having to restart it completely!

While my journey with Sakuna is still early on, I am finding much to be excited about. The story feels engaging and all the characters I have met are genuinely loveable, especially the big oaf samurai. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for our final review of Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin.