Water Demon

Sand Land is a an action RPG based off the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by the great Akira Toriyama. The story of Sand Land takes place many years after a ravaged world where water is scarce and both Humans and Demons forced into sharing the limited resource work together to take down the greedy king who would use the sacred supply for his own needs. While the manga series appeared in the early 2000s it was only in 2023 where an CGI adaptation would see a release and a year later the world would see the video game adaptation.

Sand Land sticks well to its roots and follows the story, Beelzebub is a mischievous demon and whilst plays pranks on the humans he appears quite good natured and tries to live alongside the humans although he will still from the humans in order for himself and the other demons to survive. After an encounter with a human named Rao, Beelzebub decides to join him on a journey to find a magic spring which is believed to exist where water is aplenty, it becomes more apparent that there is a greedy human that would hoard as much water for himself and Rao and Beelzebub join forces to take down the corruption that threatens everyone.

Right off the bat Sand Land gives off Borderlands vibes due to its animated Cel-Shaded style and the environment of the world and being in a post apocalyptic setting, it’s hard not to compare it. Game adaptations of a series not previously written and produces as a game can be somewhat of a tricky area. As the game begins you play as Beelzebub who will go to great lengths in taking water from a passing vehicle that is delivering water to humans, in the process Beelzebub takes it by force whilst not directly killing them will let them carry on their merry way just without the water. Whilst Beelzebub is a young demon, his good natured persona comes across quite apparent and whilst he pretends to not care for just about anyone it is quite obvious that he does. When he meets Rao and almost reluctantly joins him on his quest, Rao promises a games console as a bribe and even Lucifer his father agrees and allows his son to travel in the hopes of salvaging water.

Almost immediately apparent is the need for demons and humans to work together as the first threat to both is a giant Sand Worm that tries to kill them as they venture out into the desert and losing all their valuable supplies almost instantly.

The game graphically looks really good and although much of the game early on you will feel like you are looking at the barren dry land that seems to stretch on for miles and miles and that is the case, it does have some expanded locations later on such as lush green forest which makes a nice change to what you will experience up until this point which is a whole lot of nothing. Now while the game is pretty Barren early on there is plenty of content to get to grips with.

Although the game appears quite linear to begin with it does open up with allowing you to do side quests and explore on your own various areas and caves to dig up loot, collect resources and generally help other people in need, sometimes you will need to progress the story a little bit before you can go off and explore on your own terms, the game does not want you to go all guns blazing around the first enemy base in which the first stealth mission takes place, it wouldn’t make much sense so the game locks you into these missions until you finish them.

The game features basic action moves and you will use such as punching and throwing your enemy for bigger damage but a lot of the game will see you fighting head to head in vehicles complete with rocket launchers and machine guns. While I am happy with the added in vehicular combat it almost completely overshadows the basic combat rendering it almost pointless later on in the game. I only found the basic combat fighting as Beelzebub necessary early on as you navigate an enemy base to steal the vehicle needed to unlock them as a system going forward, even then it was mostly a stealth mission and rarely required any fighting, it was still a really fun part of the game.

As the game takes almost all entirety in vehicles it was almost imperative that it was done correctly and that seemed to be the case with Sand Land as a whole. You are able to collect a plethora of vehicles and take a whole bunch of them out and switch between them instantly. I just wish the general combat outside of this was a little more fun and engaging. Beelzebub has a whole Talent tree of abilities waiting to be used, unfortunately they just seemingly seem useless as Beelzebub ends up being in a tank more than on his own two feet. Tanks are also an integral part of traversal such as blowing up giant bombs and jumping over large areas inaccessible otherwise by foot, so why wouldn’t you use them?

Spino the seemingly run down town where the upgrades of your vehicles takes place is also home to its base development. As you explore the world of Sand Land, Spino will improve as you complete side quests, the base appears small but will thrive into a community and will grow, not only this you will have access to a safe place where you can spend hours decorating a personal room how you see fit. You can paint your vehicles, aswell as customize them, while the upgrade system isn’t complex or complicated, it’s deep enough to be engaging.

Whilst game adaptations can be tricky I do feel like Sand Land did hit it’s mark although it didn’t quite exceed expectations, however it didn’t underperform either. The game delivers a solid story about humans and demons and shows that two warring factions can live in harmony. It is a solid and fun game and even though some of the features are basic and repetition can set in quite quick, it is still by no means a bad game and it genuinely has fantastic art style, cool music and a great cast of characters.

A PlayStation 5 Review Code was provided by Bandai Namco