Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin PAX West 2019 Impression
While the combat felt a bit stiff on the ground, it seemed to come into its own in the air and felt distinctly satisfying by the time the boss that marked the demo’s end was felled.
While it has been a few years since Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin was first announced, it appears the game is now finally approaching completion and with that comes a better idea of how this take on the farming RPG differentiates itself from, say, Rune Factory. While the demo presented was primarily demonstrating the action combat, it came with a few indications of how the action stages interacted with the RPG aspects as it wore on.
That said, combat was the primary focus for the game’s PAX West demo. Sakuna’s combat stages take place on a strictly 2D side-scrolling plane with Sakuna herself having the typical light and heavy attacks as well as a grapple that can be used both to platform and drag herself and enemies around. On the ground the player has few options, light attacks are slow and don’t chain much into heavy attacks, however if the player gets their opponents into the air they have a lot more options even as the speed of Sakuna’s attacks dramatically increases, successful mastery of the combat will involve both getting the best equipment and getting a solid understanding of how to dart around with the grapple and keep enemies airborne. While the combat felt a bit stiff on the ground, it seemed to come into its own in the air and felt distinctly satisfying by the time the boss that marked the demo’s end was felled.
How does this interact with the farming elements? Sadly the demo didn’t have much to show there, but Sakuna’s plot revolves around the titular delinquent goddess helping to feed a village and defeat demons. This should lend itself well to a game loop of farming to increase both the village’s health and Sakuna’s stats so that the next demon can be defeated, a setup that sounds almost as much like ActRaiser as it does the more immediately tempting comparisons. While I was assured this was the general structure, it remains to be seen how well they interact. Sakuna’s combat does at least show promise. Hopefully the game can make good on the other elements that tie the action together when it launches for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC later this year.