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Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a side-scrolling platformer / agrarian simulator following the story of Sakuna, a spoiled daughter of a warrior god and a harvest goddess that is exiled to the Isle of Demons along with a group of humans that snuck into the celestial realm. She must fight monsters and cultivate her prized crop, rice, to survive if she ever hopes to be granted entry back into her beloved Lofty Realm. The humans aid her on her journey by taking the materials she finds in her travels and creating weapons, armor, and food.
The gameplay is an interesting mix of platformer and farming simulator. Most of the game is a side-scrolling platformer that has you running through palaces, forests, and other settings while gathering items and fighting enemies. Combat is kept interesting through a variety of moves: heavy attacks, quick attacks, and special attacks. Each one naturally has its benefits and downfalls, and the game gives you plenty of opportunities to figure out which attacks work against which enemies and what fighting style works for you. Personally, I liked just barreling through with the heavy attacks, despite their serious lack of speed.
You’ll also collect items like wood and beans on your adventures. These things can be given to the humans and used to make items like armor, clothes, and weapons or meals. It’s worthwhile to try out the different weapons and find what works for you; there’s even a training area to do all this and more, so take advantage of it!
Switching things up are the farming simulator moments where you’ll have to cultivate rice to level up your abilities, and there’s plenty of work that goes into it. You have to till the land, make sure seedlings are properly spaced, and fertilize them. Once rice is harvested it must be dried and can be polished. Everything affects the amount you level up and boosts you get, and it can be a little frustrating at first to figure out how to get the most out of your farming efforts. However, farming is essential to the game, and once you get the hang of it, it really enhances the combat and adventuring.
The game is fully voice-acted, which is handled quite well, and characters have fitting and unique voices that are fun to listen to. The characters themselves have diverse and interesting designs, and this adds to the plot of the game and the uniqueness of it. The game is rooted in Japanese mythology and uses an interesting mix of humor and traditional elements to create a unique tale of taking responsibility and learning to respect what you have.
Despite its somewhat cliche moral lessons and plot progression, the story has plenty of little twists and original spins that never feel overbearing or patronizing.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a fascinating and fun mix of platformer and farming simulator that will keep you entertained for hours through exploration, combat, or farming. Visually, the game is adorable and both the soundtrack and voice-acting are perfectly upbeat and engaging while clever and respectful use of Japanese mythology help keep the story both fascinating and never dull. Fans of adventure, agriculture, and mythology – or all three – should find something worth harvesting with this quirky, entertaining game.