If you happened to check out my preview for Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, you may remember me being concerned about how my rice crop was doing. I’m happy to say my crop did very well and kept Sakuna and the group of humans fed for the winter.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a really interesting mix of games that works extremely well. You have 2D platforming, with lots of foraging and enemies to battle, along with a farming simulator where you are growing rice. Add RPG elements to this and you have Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin. I never would have expected to be so infatuated with growing rice; it is an incredibly enjoyable and therapeutic experience. There’s nothing like the satisfaction you get from having to till the soil, creating your own mix for fertiliser and harvesting your crop of rice. It is truly a special experience.
As soon as the game starts, we are introduced to Sakuna, a harvest goddess who is very spoiled. She is rude, stuck up, and used to always getting her way. When she comes across a group of humans who have wandered into the Lofty Realm, the land of the gods, she does not handle it well. She is totally inebriated and makes a lot of bad decisions.
When the Goddess finds out what she has done, she is sent to a dangerous island, inhabited by demons to learn what it is like to use her abilities as a harvest maiden and to be responsible for the well being of this group of humans. Sakuna has to weather the elements, fight off demons, and learn the best way to cultivate rice, which will make her stronger and be the source of her power. Accompanying her is Tama, her guardian and the group of outcast humans. There is the full island to explore, resources to collect, demons to fight and rice to grow, if the group has a chance of survival.
This isn’t just your basic Animal Crossing type of farming, this is incredibly involved and labour intensive. You don’t only plant the rice, but first you have to till the dirt, make fertiliser depending on the characteristics you want the rice to have, plant the rice, constantly keep adjusting the amount of water on the field, pull out any weeds, get rid of pests, harvest the rice, hang it to dry then finally you can thresh the rice (which is removing the rice from the stock). You aren’t done here, you then hull the rice with a mortar and pestle to make brown or white rice. This sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but don’t let that scare you off. It is a lot of fun! It’s very rewarding when you see your crop growing, and you finally get to eat it. Each time you grow a crop, your skills get more efficient, so it gets easier and faster to do.
While working in the crops, Sakuna will not only be growing rice, but she will learn new battle skills to make her stronger. Since the group is living in the same house that Sakuna’s mother used to live in, you will find scrolls that she made teaching different techniques for farming and for fighting. Playing this game has given me so much appreciation for anyone who grows rice, or grows any kind of crop by hand. It is a lot of work, but it’s amazing the results you get.
Like I said in my preview, the game looks beautiful. I have been playing it on the Switch and it looks great in handheld mode or on the television. The levels are filled with traditional Japanese music that pairs great with the visuals of the game. When Sakuna is fighting the animations look great, especially with her special raiment ability that allows you to grapple platforms and monsters that are in the levels. Even when you enter caves in the dark, you can still see just enough to make it possible to navigate the level.
Be sure when you learn new farming skills, you go into the menu and be sure to update the attacks you can do. There are moves that work great while you farm and as an attack against the enemies in the levels. Some work great if you are holding one weapon, and others are for when you are dual wielding. No matter your play style, there are a ton of attacks to choose from and customise.
I have been playing Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin for a month, and I am still not tired of growing my rice or exploring the various areas around the island. Especially when you get the abilities to send the humans out to explore and bring back the useful items they find. There is nothing like Kaimaru coming back to the settlement with the little shiba inu puppy and a kitty he found. It makes me so happy to be able to carry this pup around with me. We not only see Sakuna growing into a responsible character who really cares for the humans she is tasked with taking care of, but the humans also grow and develop.
Tauemon is now becoming an expert at farming and can help you with different tasks or just give you useful advice, Myrthe is quite the cook and has taken it upon herself to teach the children and Kinta is a blacksmith who can create new weapons for Sakuna to use against the huge variety of enemies. I went into this game thinking it was just your usual RPG and farming simulator, but it is so much more. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is my favourite game on the Switch for this year. It is a game everyone should check out, I can’t recommend it enough. If you don’t have it make sure you pick it up! You will not be disappointed!
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?
This game is the perfect mix of an RPG, 2D Platformer and farming simulator that you can find. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin looks and sounds great and has a great story that will make you care about all the characters.