Have you ever played a game like Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley and wondered what it’d be like to smack enemies with your farming tools? Sounds like you’re looking for a game called Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin. Edelweiss has been developing the game for the past four years. The studio previously released Astebreed, an action shmup, back in 2013. Sakuna takes some of those action elements and transfers them to a sidescrolling platformer.
You play as Sakuna, whose parents were the gods of harvest and war. By blending her ancestry together, she becomes a force to be reckoned with. Using various farm tools, like hoes and pitchforks, she wreaks havoc upon the demons that have spawned in the world. Light weapons stay mapped to the light attack button, while heavy weapons fit on the heavy attack slot. This forms the basis of combat, which involves a skilled mix of the two types of hits.
The complexity comes into play when you consider directional inputs. For example, holding forward and hitting light attack makes Sakuna do a lunging attack. On the other hand, hitting up and light attack launches the enemy, and she follows them up into the air. Up and heavy attack just launches enemies, if you’d rather not chase after them. With the addition of directional inputs, Sakuna injects more depth into its combat. But wait, there’s more!
You can also unleash special moves, which are also affected by directional inputs. Neutral special unleashes a powerful combo that knocks enemies away, while forward special sends enemies flying. When you blast foes away from you, they become long-range projectiles that can hurt others. This strategy turned out to be crucial against the boss of the demo, as launched minions did great damage from a safe distance.
Finally, the ease of maneuverability perfectly complemented the intricate combat system. Sakuna gets a magical scarf that she can launch in eight directions. If it hits terrain, she’ll pull herself toward it. When it hits an enemy, she slingshots herself around them, landing right behind them. This level of mobility keeps you close to the action at all times. No matter where you are in a fight, you can quickly position yourself to unleash that next flashy combo.
The demo didn’t showcase the leveling mechanics, but the way the developers spoke about it showed some promise. Considering Sakuna’s identity as a harvest goddess, her experience points directly tie to how much rice she can grow. I want to see more of that mechanic in action before passing any form of judgment, but the concept has many exciting potentials. It could lead to a neat dichotomy between high-octane action and easygoing crop management.
Edelweiss promises a meaty campaign, quoting a 20-hour length for the story. Of course, depending on your skills, that time can vary. Previously, the studio aimed for a late 2018 release window, but obviously that didn’t come to be. However, all that extra development time shows, and Sakuna deserves a moment in the spotlight. Edelweiss now plans for a winter 2019 release for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
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