Sandland Review – The Devil’s in the Details

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    The land of sand is experiencing a strangely timely revival. Its creator, Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) recently passed away unexpectedly, effectively putting a spotlight on his 24-year-old creation as it was being adapted into film, anime, and video games. The video game has been my entry point into this world with characters, vehicles, and architecture that all resemble Dragon Ball even more than the art style, and I got to live in a whole new Toriyama world and story. What did Other elements of the game, such as its animation and performance, vacillate between high and low quality, but ultimately, Sandland is the kind of experience I want from an adaptation – a story in a big, real world. The opportunity to spend time with Joe draws. You all the way through.

    The Sandland video game serves as both a retelling and sequel to the 2000 manga. For franchise newcomers like myself, it’s a wonderful entry point, but there’s a fine line in the narrative between the old and the entirely new. Moving beyond the borders of the Sandland region, at a basic level, doesn’t make sense considering the world built up to that point. But, overall, I like the plot and was locked in to see where it was going, even if the characters lacked depth. Aside from the obvious bad guys, no one learns much in Sandland, and its characters are basically defined entirely by their first lines of dialogue. Rao, however, stands out as a smart and determined doer who is quick to accept everyone despite their differences – a rare trait for someone whose accurate, uncreative nickname is “Old Man”. Is.

    As Beelzebub, the son of the demon king Lucifer, you decide to help man bring water back to a water-deprived world. It features large, open-world exploration with a collection of vehicles that you can call upon at any time. Swapping between a tank for skirmishes and a motorcycle for traversing speed bumps is a quick process, but you do it so often that I admit to getting frustrated with the somewhat cumbersome swapping system. I also didn’t like that switching between vehicles basically required a full stop. This may sound like nitpicking, but every encounter in the game requires frequent vehicle changes.

    Fighting enemies using your collection of vehicles is a highlight and, understandably, the focus of the game. Despite the focus on vehicular combat, the action feels close to a third-person shooter and does a good job of painting control styles between different vehicles. I liked the tank with its powerful guns and strong armor, but the jumping tank used to jump mountains and the mech used to punch other robots is fun in its own way. Upgrading and customizing them is a slow process, and I rarely feel like I’m making big, effective improvements by leveling up or replacing parts of the vehicles, but I always check the garage. Was eager to try and see what I could do to increase my stats.

    The process of upgrading Spino’s town is rewarding as completing sidequests (consisting of many genuinely interesting mini-stories and characters) brings new people to the growing town. For example saving a painter in the middle of the desert opens a shop where you can paint and decal your vehicles. You can even decorate the town with furniture, but I admit to having little interest in that aspect since all my resources went into improving my vehicles.

    At times, Beelzebub thrives without a vehicle, and thankfully these parts are usually annoying, without difficulty. Beelzebub is a powerful demon with a literal garage of armored weapons in his back pocket but occasionally insists on sneaking around for stealth sections. These parts of the game feel like they’re from a different era of video games that we’ve left behind. The hand-to-hand combat scenarios aren’t that bad, but I was always anxious to get back into the tank.

    Land of Sand has its flaws and feels a bit long despite watching the credits around the reasonable 20-hour mark, but it maintains a charm throughout. Toriyama’s sense of humor is front and center with Beelzebub essentially taking the adventure so his father would give him an extra hour of video game time every day. I may not have strong connections with most of the cast and resent many specific parts, but I loved spending time in Sandland (and beyond) and watching my garage upgrade and grow.

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