Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin E3 Impression 2

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a game that mixes farming and combat, where you take on the role of the titular Sakuna, a young Harvest Goddess. Broken up into stages, you fight your way through 2D action stages, ending with a boss, then kick back and relax with as much farming as your heart desires before heading back out onto the battlefield.

The E3 demo was divided into both parts of gameplay, so I decided to tackle farming first. To properly till the field, I had to remove rocks then hoe the dirt. I had to fill it up with enough water; guessing what was “enough water” was an interesting concept and will require additional play-testing. Then I could plant the rice… which I planted too far apart. Oopsie! This meant the quality of my rice wasn’t as optimal as it could have been.

Once the rice had a season to grow, it was time to harvest and process it. My rice was graded on multiple qualities: aroma, yield, taste, aesthetic, stickiness, and hardness. The quality of the rice determines Sakuna’s power, as well as the quality of the food made from it, so growing a masterful crop is very important. Preparing the rice to be useful is done via a set of short mini-games, button tapping, and directional presses. Lastly, you can choose whether to make brown rice (the least amount of processing) or white rice (the most amount of processing), or mixed rice, which is somewhere in between.

 

With the crops in from the field, I jumped into the second demo and tried out the game’s combat. Sakuna has a variety of ways to attack, including a quick attack, a stronger but slower attack, a skill attack which takes energy that needs time to recharge, as well as her magical scarf which can be used for offensive moves, defensive moves, and movement — it can grab cliffs that are just out of her reach and boost her into otherwise unattainable areas. I faced a variety of foe types from enemies my size and of average speed, to large and slow, to mobs of fast and dodgy enemies that knocked me off of the cliffs I had climbed onto, back to the bottom of the stage… grumble grumble.

Finally, I made my way to the end of the stage, where a very grumpy fish was waiting to beat me up. Thankfully through the power of rice, I prevailed over his ground spikes, his splash waves, and his sneak attacks and depleted his giant HP bar for a victory! I then retired back to the farm for a relaxing season of rice raising once again. How you will choose to balance combat and farming will be up to you when Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin lands on PC and PlayStation 4 in 2018.

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