Sand Land: A Fresh Take on the Open-World Genre

Sand Land breathes new life into the open-world genre, offering a vibrant and engaging adventure that combines the thrill of Mad Max with the charm of Dragon Quest

by Sededin Dedovic
Sand Land: A Fresh Take on the Open-World Genre
© Bandai Namco Entertainment America / YOutube channel

When someone mentions an open-world game these days, half of the gaming population immediately cringes, while the other half completely loses interest. This reaction is not surprising after nearly a decade of Ubisoft grinds, other open-world marathons, and entirely similar, exhausting games.

Sand Land is one of those open-world titles, but unlike others, it manages to make this genre fun again, which had long become a monotonous simulator of climbing radio towers and lonely mountain peaks. The story follows a kid named Beelzebub, who considers himself the strongest and most dangerous demon ravaging all human settlements.

The world has become a vast wasteland without water and with a hellish climate so bad that even demons hide from the sun and seek ways to cool off. One day, a nearby sheriff arrives in the demon village searching for the legendary inexhaustible water source.

This marks the beginning of Beelzebub and his friends' adventure through this sandy world. At the outset, we can say that the gameplay is typically open-world style – you will have a large map, many locations, a multitude of battles, and plenty of distractions.

What sets this game apart from many others is that the travel system is incredibly fun and well-executed. Early in the game, you will acquire your unique tank, which will not only be your main means of transportation but can also be fully modified.

This applies to other vehicles as well.

SAND LAND Walkthrough Gameplay© theRadBrad / Youtube channel

However, that's not the only thing you'll be modifying. At the beginning of the game, you will arrive in the city of Spino, which will effectively become your base and a place that you will gradually build up, providing you with various benefits in return.

Naturally, even this part is fun, and the more side missions you complete and the more new characters you find, they will come to the city and offer you even more benefits or options for upgrading vehicles. The main part of the game, besides the standard character upgrades, both main and side, then defeating enemies and combo moves, is actually the combat with vehicles and their diverse customization.

Some vehicles even function as additional abilities in Metroidvania games, allowing you to access zones you couldn't reach before. It could be said that this is a beautiful combination of Mad Max desert combat with Dragon Quest fun and interesting characters.

SAND LAND Walkthrough Gameplay© theRadBrad / Youtube channel

There is so much to explore and discover that you might miss something. But even if that happens, don't worry – you won't get stuck in the game because even on the hardest difficulty, the game is not challenging to complete.

Some of the side actions you'll encounter include sneaking, motorcycle racing, or simply surviving totally cool scripted cinematic sequences. Sand Land is absolutely gorgeous, as one of the last significant works of Akira Toriyama.

Despite the fact that the large world consists of a single biome and perhaps one of the visually duller biomes, Sand Land looks brilliantly cartoonish. As the game progresses and changes are made to the map, it only makes the colors and contrasts even more striking.

SAND LAND Walkthrough Gameplay© theRadBrad / Youtube channel

Like most games based on anime/manga franchises, this one also features a cel-shaded visual style, of course, with the addition of the beautiful drawing style of the famous Akira Toriyama.

If you've ever watched Dragon Ball or played Dragon Quest, you will immediately recognize this legendary style. But even in such a theme where you expect the predominant colors to be beige, brown, and gray, the visual presentation further highlights the vibrancy of the characters.

Despite the desert palette, the game's graphic design still adds many other colors and tones. The voice acting is absolutely top-notch, and even the main character, who is a kid, does not sound irritating or tiresome to listen to.

The music is also expertly done, so you will enjoy every track. The main drawback of the game is its difficulty – it is simply too easy. Additionally, despite all the fun mechanics, Sand Land contains that classic open-world grind where you have to activate radio towers, collect piles of materials, and, of course, stick your nose into every hole to find everything you need.

We all know that anime games, even open-world anime games, can be simple, boring, and repetitive. Fortunately, Sand Land manages to avoid all these flaws by a wide margin. If you're truly burnt out on open-world games but still love this genre, then Sand Land is definitely the title for you.

You will enjoy this strange and interesting world, and besides that, you'll be drawn in by the beautiful story that covers some very serious themes, even though it may seem like just a kids' game at first glance.