E3 2018 IMPRESSIONS: Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

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Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin | Logo

If you had told me prior to E3 that Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin was by the same team behind Astebreed, I would have slapped you and called you crazy. But I would have been wrong, as Edelweiss is indeed the same team behind a crazy 3D shump and a warring states platformer / farm sim. I was drawn to the game more because of the platforming aspect, as well as the fact that the visual lushness of the game reminded me a lot of titles such as Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Odin Sphere and even Dragon’s Crown. Any time I compare a game visually to the works of Vanillaware, that’s very high praise.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin | Smash

As far as the demo itself, it was broken up into two segments – the farming side of Sakuna and the combat side. I decided to try my hand at farming first, just to see how it worked. Though I’m not a fan of any farm sims, and haven’t touched a Harvest Moon, I felt the controls here were easy to understand and fun to experience. It plays a lot like a series of farming mini games, such as planting rice, watering it, harvesting it with your scythe and much more. The fact that Sakuna is a harvest goddess, and is thus empowered by how well you farm, is just an added bonus. Another cool thing about this part of the demo is it let me see some of the banished townsfolk you’ll encounter in the game, which makes me think that interacting with them will reveal many nuances of the plot.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin | Harvest

Being honest, what I really came to the Sakuna demo anticipating was the combat demo, and it didn’t disappoint. The controls were tight and on par for what I’ve come to expect from many Metroidvanias. It’s easy to navigate the maps, and it’s also fun using your nifty scarf to grapple to far off points, or entrap enemy creatures. I also liked how you use your farming tools as weapons, which does a good job of tying the two modes together. What I was surprised by was that, at least in the demo, there were no save rooms to recover your health at. This makes me think that when you die on a map, you have to restart from the beginning, which is more hardcore than I expected from the game. Thankfully, once you get a handle on the controls, it’s not too difficult to thrash enemies with ease, other than the tremendous boss fights. In this demo, that was a giant fish demon that did its level best to squash me under itself. Thankfully, I was able to turn it into sashimi, with only a little life to spare.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin | Bad Fishy

After playing Sakuna, my only real complaint is that it isn’t headed to Nintendo Switch. I think it would be a wonderful fit for the system, and don’t think the graphical flourishes would be more than it could handle. That said, if you own a PS4 or like gaming on your computer, you’ll be in luck when it launches later this year. Here’s hoping Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is as much of a 2D classic as the games I feel it drew inspiration from.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin | Scarf

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.