HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewSAND LAND Review 

SAND LAND Review 

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The late, great, Akira Toriyama has conjured up a cavalcade of fascinating works over the years. He’s best known for creating the Dragon Ball universe, which has spawned numerous action-packed video games since its inception. Now though, it’s time for another of Toriyama’s creations to take centre stage as the lesser known SAND LAND is adapted into an action-RPG by ILCA, who developed One Piece Odyssey

Can SAND LAND satisfy fans of the manga, while welcoming newcomers with open arms, or does it fail to captivate its audience?

SAND LAND review 1
Does SAND LAND satisfy the fans?

Based on the anime and manga of the same name, SAND LAND whisks you off to a barren desert land. A series of man-made incidents and natural disasters has led to a once small desert growing exponentially, eventually engulfing the world. As such, there’s a severe water shortage and the oppressive king has a monopoly on all that remains. That is until a fiendish demon Prince Beelzebub, his sneaky aid Thief, and a vengeance seeking Sheriff Rao, decide to force a change. This unlikely trio set out to find the Legendary Spring in order to give this crucial resource back to demons and humans alike.

Story-wise, it mostly follows the recent anime series on Disney+, albeit with some deviations and filler for the sake of expanding the overall experience. The developers have done a good job to encapsulate the essence of SAND LAND, with jovial humour and peculiar characters at the forefront. Visually, it’s almost as if the characters have been ripped straight from the show. Retaining the voice cast adds that extra level of authenticity too, ensuring every cutscene is worth watching. 

In terms of gameplay, there are a fair few aspects to take into account as you delve into the open-world environment. 

Focusing on the story missions first though, and they will drag you all over the place, hence traversing between them feels a bit of a chore. I think it’s because the desert is a fairly bland terrain and looks rather boring to be honest. Taking control of Beelzebub, you can either travel around on foot or in a vehicle, and I highly recommend the latter for almost every occasion for the sake of speed. Actually, even when fighting, vehicles are the best option, and I’ll explain why. 

You see, Beelzebub can partake in fisticuffs against junkers, the army, scorpions, raptors, drones, and more. He’s capable of weak attacks, strong ones, and a handful of special moves using the Power of Darkness. Unfortunately, it’s seldom satisfying with such a small arsenal to work with, and the enemies themselves barely flinch, which means they’re able to attack you back in an instant. Levelling up through earning XP doesn’t make much of a difference to the situation either, as Beelzebub’s sidekicks have far more interesting and useful unlockables.

SAND LAND review 2
The vehicles are king

A separate amount of skill points are given for you to distribute between Rao, Thief and another crew member that’s recruited. It’s handy because Thief’s upgrades garner extra Zeni (the currency), an increased number of materials upon defeating enemies, help locate hidden items, and even a cool ability to gift a booby-trapped box to an enemy. Meanwhile, Rao can become a decoy and engage in warfare using his own tank, as well as disorientate enemies with hairspray. 

The most fun during combat sections actually comes from getting inside one of the vehicles. Although a mere tank is the only option early on, you’ll soon be able to acquire the frames necessary for mechanic, Ann, to build. Collecting parts from chests and fallen enemies allows you to regularly improve the machines too.

So, expect to roam around on a high leaping Jump-Bot, a Hovercar for navigating wetlands, a swift Dirt Buggy, and a super heavy-hitter known as the Battle Bot. Blasting the cannon, launching grenades, and unleashing the machine gun is where the enjoyment is at. The aforementioned Ann is also the other crew member and her skills can really boost the effectiveness of your vehicles in battle as well. 

In regards to the actual mission concepts, there’s definitely a decent amount of variety throughout SAND LAND. These include the likes of a chase sequence, stealth sections, a boss battle involving a giant Kraken, and, of course, tank on tank action. Nothing is overly complex though, with the simplistic mechanics and ideas used across the board. Even the side quests are the standard affairs, consisting of fetch quests and minor fights for the most part. You won’t be in awe of anything that occurs, it’s just fine and fit for purpose.

Outside of that, should you be looking for something else to do, there are a few distractions. Picking up high value bounties, trying your luck in a race, finding loot-filled caves, and activating radio towers, are all on offer. While not massively enthralling, it’s still providing things to do on the long treks through the desert and beyond. What is a nice touch however, is witnessing the base town grow as you complete jobs and send folk without a purpose to reside there. 

SAND LAND review 3
Yep, it’s deffo all about the vehicles…

SAND LAND does well to incorporate a raft of activities to try and keep your attention, but it does struggle to truly excel in any particular aspect. Its biggest strength is in the storytelling and portrayal of characters, followed by the rather fun vehicle-based action and part customisation. The hand-to-hand combat sucks unfortunately, while the limited enemy types and the boring environment becomes tedious.

It’s fair to say SAND LAND is an alright anime-based action-RPG that fans of the series might enjoy. But it pales in comparison to something like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Storytelling and character designs
  • Vehicular combat
  • Activity and mission variety
Cons:
  • Hand-to-hand combat
  • Boring locations and samey enemies
  • Mechanics are too simplistic
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Bandai Namco
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 26 April 2024 | £59.99
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Storytelling and character designs</li> <li>Vehicular combat</li> <li>Activity and mission variety</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Hand-to-hand combat</li> <li>Boring locations and samey enemies</li> <li>Mechanics are too simplistic</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Bandai Namco</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 26 April 2024 | £59.99</li> </ul>SAND LAND Review 
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