Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin E3 Impression

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is back again this year at XSEED Games’ booth. I played two separate demos focused on the two different parts of the game. In the first demo, I got to plant and harvest some rice. Planting rice is a multi-stage process. You have to clean the field of rocks, till the soil, flood the field with water, and plant the rice. Then you have to clear any weeds that are growing. When the rice has grown, you must then harvest the rice and hang it to dry. Once dry, you must then remove the rice husk, and decide on how much to pound the rice. During many of these stages there are implicit decisions to be made — for example, how much to flood the field and how much to pound the rice — which have different effects on the statistics of the resulting rice harvest. Whew, after just a few minutes with this part of the demo I’m confident I can grow and harvest my own rice.

The second demo featured the action part of the game. This plays much like a beat ’em up. There are a few types of different attack buttons for combos, a special attack that uses up a quickly-replenishing energy bar, and the ability to use Sakuna’s scarf as a sort of grappling hook to swing from objects and to pull and toss enemies. Sakuna can also block to mitigate damage, and can regenerate health when she’s filled up on rice. The demo stage was overall simple and feature a lot of button-mashing, but enjoyable in that between different attacks and options, Sakuna has multiple options for taking down enemies. The game will also include different weapons to add to the variety, though they weren’t available in the demo. There was also a boss fight at the end of the stage that was pretty standard fare for a 2D beat ’em up, alternating between button mashing and timely blocking or dodging attacks.

In practical terms, Sakuna, as a rice goddess, becomes more powerful as she harvests more and more rice, so the harvesting part of the game serves as a type of leveling up and progression system. In turn, this enables her to take on more difficult action missions. This year’s demo didn’t include anything that wasn’t already known, but those interested in the title should be pleased to see it once again at E3 and still being actively worked on. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is planned for release later this year for PC and PlayStation 4.


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