REVIEW: ‘Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin’ Beat ‘Em Up, Rice-Related Fun (Switch)

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Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin Title

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a mix of a beat ‘em up platformer and farming simulator for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC. Developed by Edelweiss and published by XSEED Games, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is full of fun combat and complex growing mechanics, creating an engaging role-playing adventure.

In Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, Sakuna, a spoiled harvest goddess, is banished from the gods’ home of Capital City to an island overrun by demons. Joined by a group of humans who were able to sneak into Capital City because of Sakuna’s actions, the goddess must clear the island of demons and ensure the survival of the humans by growing rice.

To progress in Sakuna, unlike typical RPGs, Sakuna’s stats build based on rice harvests. The rice-growing process is complicated, involving strict maintenance of water levels and fertilizer. However, Sakuna doesn’t aim to punish the player, which is good because I was far too incompetent to grow rice well. This didn’t impede my progress, though – it just meant it took me a little longer to get stronger, which I appreciated.

The combat was much more my jam. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin uses 2D side-scrolling action, mixing platforming with beat ‘em up combat. I loved taking my weapons and smashing through waves of enemies.

The combat isn’t a breeze all the time, however. I often would put off a certain level until I could upgrade my weapons or harvest more rice to boost stats when I couldn’t beat a boss. I would constantly test my limits with each new area that opened on the map, returning to tend my fields and revisit older areas to farm materials for new equipment.

Sakuna Combat

Equipment is gifted by the human members of your small town after completing side quests for them, which lets them build forges, looms, and more. The development of your town is satisfying to see throughout the game as buildings appear and the island becomes cleared of demons.

Unfortunately, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin drops the ball on one critical level – the characters. Each character feels more like a caricature instead of a fully developed person. For example, one of the humans is a young boy with an attitude problem. While he does have relationships that develop with Sakuna and other members of the camp, he consistently shows aggression, even when it’s uncalled for.

Sakuna herself is no breeze to deal with, even though she’s the main character. Part of Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin revolves around Sakuna’s growth throughout the game, but her character is truly insufferable. She never takes accountability and constantly picks fights with other people, insulting them, and blaming them for everything that goes wrong. It’s hard to enjoy story moments and cutscenes between characters because dealing with Sakuna is frustrating.

Overall, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a fun gameplay experience if you’re really into managing statistics and growing from your mistakes. The biggest flaw is that the narrative, which has an interesting premise, is stunted by the shallowness and, at times, obnoxious nature of the characters. Luckily, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is focused more on the gameplay and is an easy recommendation if you’re looking for a rewarding combat experience and farming simulator. However, if you desire a more engaging, emotional story, Sakuna’s Demon Island isn’t the place for you.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is available on November 10 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a fun gameplay experience if you’re really into managing statistics and growing from your mistakes. The biggest flaw is that the narrative, which has an interesting premise, is stunted by the shallowness and, at times, obnoxious nature of the characters. Luckily, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is focused more on the gameplay and is an easy recommendation if you’re looking for a rewarding combat experience and farming simulator.