Sand Land Review – Road Warrior Tenacity and Super Saiyan Spirit

Sand Land Review

Venturing into the post-apocalyptic world crafted by Akira Toriyama, Bandai Namco resurrects the forgotten treasure, Sand Land. Drawing from the genius behind Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump, the game promises a thrilling fusion of Mad Max-inspired chaos and the iconic artistry synonymous with the creator. But as this universe transitions from manga to gameplay, can it deliver the same magic that captivated readers decades ago?

After years of hellacious battles, humans have destroyed the planet, leaving it a dry tundra. Civilization is on the brink of extinction as they struggle to survive due to the lack of water. Controlled by the King and Commander Zeu, H2O is now a sought-after commodity and is used to heighten his position of power. With only access to an extremely limited supply, Sheriff Rao decides to search for a legendary spring that could change humanity. As the world is a dangerous place, he overcomes the long rivalry between humans and demons to team up with Beelezbub. As both share a common interest, they set out together to find the mystical lake and change the landscape of society.

On Fury Road

The plot stays true to the Manga which adds authenticity to the adventure. However, due to the shorter, focused nature of the graphic novel, the game fleshes out the world by adding new tales and locations. Although the rag-tag group encounters different situations, their patented banter remains prominent. Beelzebub is a young demon and his personality reflects this. He is daring and a ball of energy which counters the Thief’s more tentative approach to situations. Sheriff Rao’s ex-military background peers through to help keep the odd squad all focused on the mission at hand. Although the range of personalities is infectious, the sub-par delivery of the dialogue detracts from the overall immersion of the narrative.

The world is perfectly realized with incredible attention to detail that faithfully captures Toriyama’s iconic art style. Each character is brimming with personality due to their outlandish design and the cell-shaded aesthetic. Vehicles are chubby with rounded features adding to the quirky presentation of the world. The bright colors and thick outlines pop off the screen and will make you want to discover more of this unique universe.

The large open world places vehicles at the forefront of the experience. You will venture across the desert, and fight foes on the way to your objective. While the environment is spacious, it still houses secrets and pockets of humanity that allow you to explore for items and resources. Camps and towns are dotted throughout which allows you to fast travel from location to location with ease.

In the Driver’s Seat

Your methods of transport vary as you progress. Each stacked with character and with a homemade, DIY aesthetic, you can quickly switch between vehicles to suit your situation. The tank offers more protection and chugs at a slower pace compared to the bike which allows you to zoom past creatures. Another useful construction is the Jump Bot which lets you leap up rocks and tackle platforming sections. This is particularly useful against enemies that fly above you and to further explore the multi-layered environment. Each machine is easy to control and feels distinct, allowing you to choose your approach to battles.

Vehicle combat is a blast. You have access to two different guns and can switch between these with the click of a button. This means you can reload one gun while unloading with another. With your boost, you can dart behind cover and then peek out to send a projectile. Personalization is also an option as you are able to upgrade your equipment and change weapons at the garage. Due to this, you can select a loadout that suits your playstyle. For example, if you want to get up close and personal, you can use the grenade launcher and machine gun whereas missiles are great at a distance. Every change is visible and you can add further character by giving the machine a paint job. This adds depth to vehicles and helps make it a highlight of Sand Land.

By the Book

On foot, Beelzebub can still take care of himself. You can throw weak and strong attacks, however, the buttons these are assigned stifle their fluency. After landing a series of combos, you get the option to unleash a super move which will launch your opponent across the screen. You also have the ability to perform special attacks and even use your allies to support you during combat. You will gain access to other attacks as you level up which does give you more options to decimate your opponents. Evasion is a little stiff and lacks precision which leads to a mediocre system that never truly reaches the same level as its vehicle counterpart.

ILCA adds variety to the gameplay through some straightforward stealth and even 2D platforming segments. Each twist with the gameplay is a welcome addition and will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Side quests, however, are a much more typical affair with simple tasks that fail to meet the same standards as the main campaign. Races are quite enjoyable but there is a reliance on fetch quests and due to this, you may find yourself skipping over some of these jobs. Helping others will reward you with items and will even see some of the characters you meet move to Spino, the main hub. The place will grow and thrive with your help, although a clever premise, the quality of side quests affects this.

Sand Land captures the heart and soul of Akira Toriyama’s classic tale. Jumping in a vehicle and fighting creatures is a highlight of the experience and overshadows the lackluster melee combat. Side quests are a little dull but the main campaign is varied and an accurate interpretation and interesting extension of the Manga. With its stunning visuals, fans of anime will love this thrilling journey through Toriyama’s iconic universe.

***A PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Stunning Art Direction
  • Fun Vehicle Combat
  • Full of Character

The Bad

  • Bland Voice Acting
  • Mediocre Melee Combat
  • Story Tails Off