Libra: Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (Switch)
Release Date: November 10, 2020
File Size: 6.3GB
Publisher: Marvelous (XSEED)
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Libra is our “first impressions” series. These are generally spoiler free, but may reveal some base plot points and mechanic details.
The wait for the release of Sakuna has been one that I have been anticipating for a couple of years now. Back when the game first showed up at E3, it had caught my attention from its styling alone. And as the years passed, and we got more in-depth information concerning the game, my excitement only grew. Now that the game is finally here, and I’m ready to see if it lives up to the years of hype that have slowly cultivated around it.
You play as Sakuna, a spoiled god who takes her status for granted. She comes across a group of humans who want into the Lofty Realm where the gods reside. Due to an untimed accident, she is cast from her safety net in the capital and forced onto the demon infested Island of Demons, where she must work off her sentence. With the group of five humans and her protector in the form of a guardian dog, she works to clear out the demons from the land and cultivate rice in order to earn back the favor of the goddess, Lady Kamuhitsuki.
The majority of the characters are going to come across as grating from the beginning, especially Sakuna. From where I am currently, they will slowly grow more accustomed to their living situation and grow with the knowledge that they come across. I appreciate that the characters seem to have their own stories where they will hopefully grow, although time will tell if it will actually result in character growth, or if it’s just your regular anime slapstick.
The gameplay for Sakuna is broken up into two different portions: platforming and farming. You can’t ignore either aspect, as they both play a part in your progression through the story. You will need to explore through the different stages across the island in order to obtain materials for meals, fertilizer, and better clothing/weapons, but in order to truly get stronger, you will have to cultivate rice.
The combat portion of the game is pretty similar to most platformers. In the beginning, you have two types of attacks – a regular attack, and a heavy attack. As you progress, you will unlock new skills that will make taking on swarms of enemies much easier. Sakuna does not have a double jump, so to get to platforms that are farther than your jump can reach, you will have to use her Raiment skill (think of it like Spiderman’s webs). By hitting the R1 button, a golden ribbon will extend from Sakuna’s body that will latch onto either a platform that can be latched onto, or a nearby enemy. Latching onto a platform will draw you right next to that area, while latching onto an enemy will twirl you around until you are directly behind them. It is a very useful tool both for platforming and for battles and as you progress, your Raiment ability will grow to have other statuses attributed to it, as well.
For the other portion of the game, you will be cultivating rice. And unlike other farming sims, this process is a lot more in-depth than I had initially expected it to be. You won’t just be planting rice and harvesting when the time is right. Because the stat gain after each season is dependent on how your rice grew throughout the in-game year, you have a lot more control over how your rice grows. You can create fertilizer and based on what you add to the mixture, you boost certain stats for your rice which will ultimately transfer over to Sakuna’s character stats. You control every part of the cultivation process, from deciding where exactly you want to plant your rice, the water level, to when you want to harvest, dry, thresh, and hull your rice. I learned more about the rice cultivation process than I thought I would with this game!
- Good balance of platforming and farming
- Cultivating rice leaves you with a sense of accomplishment
- Interesting stat-raising system where you control what stats you want to focus on based on how your rice came out
- There will be a lot of backtracking to previous levels for specific items or to clear missions, due to item drop RNG
- If you’re looking for just platforming or just farming, you may be disappointed
So far, Sakuna has surpassed my expectations. The story has its anime inspirations, which comes as no surprise. But outside of a few quirks that left me raising an eyebrow, I’m fully enjoying what has been presented so far, and I’m especially happy with the farming portion of the game. I’m curious how they will continue to progress the story, and I look forward to seeing what else unlocks as you grow.