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The moment the SAND LAND demo dropped, I knew I had to play it. I’ve re-read the manga, and I know for a fact I’ll be watching the anime, all to get myself in the headspace of looking forward to the game. But has this swayed me in any way? Nobody knows.

After downloading it on my PlayStation 5, I jumped straight in. Unlike many demos I’ve played recently, there are no story elements here. In a way, I was pretty glad about this. I was, after all, a fan of the SAND LAND manga, and I already had a good grip on the plot. If anything, I knew that the gameplay would provide the main selling point if and when I purchased the game.

Camp Sand Land

So, what do you do in the demo? Well, you play as Beelzebub, the demon prince, and you are joined by your party members Rao and Thief. Rao is a sheriff, and Thief is Beelzebub's confidant and old friend. The gist of SAND LAND is that you live in a world where water is sold at an extortionate price, and the King has ensured that he and his men hold a monopoly over the water supply to continue to fill his coffers.

Melee Combat Sand Land

With the plot revealed, let’s take a closer look at the gameplay. As Beelzebub, you can enjoy some melee gameplay, with rush attacks and martial arts that shouldn’t be a surprise to any fans of Toriyama’s works. In battle, you can get Rao and/or Thief to attack with a special technique. Rao will do a rush attack with his mech suit, and Thief will throw a bomb at your enemies. However, that’s not the main draw.

SAND LAND is inevitably more about driving through the desert. The best way I can describe the series is as a road trip manga. In the demo, you’ll have access to three different vehicles: the tank from the original series, a motorcycle, and a mech suit. The tank can allow you to fight stronger opponents with the use of homing missiles, while the motorcycle is great for anyone who wants to battle a wave of enemies while moving quickly. Of course, the mech suit is great for those who enjoy melee combat, but are aware that not all enemies can simply be bested with Beelzebub’s bare hands.

Mech Combat SAND LAND

By trying out the demo, you can play around with how you use your vehicles. Personally, I loved the tank and had a lot of fun fighting the Queen Scorpion by sending powerful attacks at it. It made life a lot easier, and the mech suit was perfect for battling bandits with their own mech gear. If you wanted to move quickly, the motorcycle allowed you to do low damage while moving quickly — perfect for when you want to kill some raptors to pass the time or even some pterodactyls that you won’t be able to reach any other way. I liked how it was so easy to switch between them, as all I had to do was open the vehicle menu, and the vehicle would change with just a “poof”.

Customisation menu SAND LAND

When playing with the vehicles, you can always customise them with some equipment. There are different armours and guns, so you can decide which one works for you. If you’re partial to designing your own mech, then it’s great. However, I have to admit that it was a little bit of a learning curve for me to do that. Then, when your health is running low, you can return to camp, fill up on water, and rest by the campfire. Whether you want to wait ‘til morning or night, you can then go and see what other monsters are available to fight.

Overall, I can say that I’m interested in SAND LAND, and now with the demo in mind, I’m looking forward to the full game’s release on the 26th of April. It’s one that I’m sure to watch out for, especially as I saw some environments I’d love to explore, and so it did a great job of allowing me to sample what’s to come.

Bex Prouse

Bex Prouse

Staff Writer

Writing about all sorts like a liquorice allsort

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