"The final game promises a healthy mix of action and farming that will appeal to fans of Odin Sphere and Stardew Valley alike."
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin combines two very different genres to create one very strange and Japanese game. Part stylish action RPG, part farming sim, Sakuna is occupying two opposite ends of the spectrum. Feel your heart tighten as you build your combo meter in the action levels, then breathe a sigh of relief when it's time to go back to the village and focus on your rice crops. The titular character, Sakuna, is a harvest goddess, and it is her job to conquer and tame the wilderness in order to gather materials to bring back to the village as supplies for crafting and farming.
Our playable demo at E3 only featured an action stage and none of the simulation elements. The action plays out in a side-on 2.5D perspective; you control Sakuna as she jumps obstacles and slices her way through enemies. The gameplay was reminiscent of a Vanillaware game like Dragon's Crown, though maybe a little less rigid and precise. I'm going to give Sakuna the benefit of the doubt and assume that the looseness was only due to the fact that it was an early build of the game, and hopefully the finished product will have more polish. The coolest gameplay element unique to Sakuna was her magic scarf, which you can use to swing over gaps and/or toss enemies into them. The boss fight at the end of the demo required you to hook onto the boss and swing behind it in order to attack safely. It'll be interesting to see if this mechanic gets more complex as the game progresses.
Although the available demo was short, it was very enjoyable, with the emphasis on Japanese culture and aesthetic making the game a visual treat. The final game promises a healthy mix of action and farming that will appeal to fans of Odin Sphere and Stardew Valley alike. We can't speak to the farming aspect, but the press release seems to emphasize the importance and particulars of rice farming. Time will tell how the other half of Sakuna turns out, though the small bit that we played was a satisfying and competent action RPG experience. I look forward to seeing how the two modes complement each other.