SAND LAND – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Adventure
Developer: ILCA
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

SAND LAND – Review

Site Score
Good: Atmosphere, Quirky characters, The different vehicles are fun
Bad: The world feels empty, Awkward controls, Slow pacing
User Score
(0 votes)
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

With the passing of Akira Toriyama, we were hoping that SAND LAND would be another thing the legendary manga artist would be remembered for, outside of other amazing works such as Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump, and Dragon Quest. SAND LAND may have gone under the radar for many gamers, even though the anime series is now also available on Disney+. We were eager to dive into this cute Mad Max-like RPG adventure, and for the most part, we had a lot of fun. 


SAND LAND is based on a short manga by Akira Toriyama and fans of his other works will instantly recognize his style. That being said, the story brings us to a desolate planet that the elements and ongoing wars have ravaged. Due to this, there is a shortage of water, and an evil king controls nearly all of the reserves. Outside of this general conflict that wages between humans, demons also inhabit this world. This brings us to Beelzebub, Prince of Demons, who goes out on small expeditions stealing water from the humans in order to help out his people. Right off the bat, it’s clear that Beelzebub may act like he’s an evil demon, but he is in fact kindhearted. When a human sheriff by the name of Rao ends up at the doorstep of his village, his curiosity is piqued. Rao asks for the demons’ help in order to find a legendary spring, which may aid the entire world. Beelzebub gets permission from Lucifer, the King of Demons, and he goes on his merry way with Rao, and Thief, another demon. Of course, the human king will not let this go by easily.

The story respects the source material greatly, and the overall flow is quite pleasant in terms of story progression. Some of the tutorial bits, and perhaps the overall introduction did feel a bit long-winded, but after that, the narrative trots along nicely.


Graphically, SAND LAND is a fairly pretty game. We do have to mention that we felt that the game did have a few dated designs and that the world felt a bit empty. Of course, as the story takes place in a desert, there is some leeway in terms of how empty the world can be, but even so, more could have been done here. That being said, the world itself looks fun to explore, and there are many colorful characters that you can encounter. Very much like other Toriyama-inspired titles and franchises, such as Dragon Quest, a lot of NPCs look very similar to one another. You’ll see quite a few small variations of characters you have encountered earlier, but most still have a few standout features or small color variations. As a whole, the game oozes that authentic Akira Toriyama charm.


The sound design of SAND LAND is great. The music is properly cinematic, and the sound effects pack a proper punch, creating the perfect backdrop for what truly steals the show: the voice acting. The voice acting reminded us of watching a proper kids’ show, and while many dialogues were quite cheesy, we loved every minute of it. Most dialogues in the game are also fully voice-acted, which adds so much charm to the overall experience. Some of the banter between the characters and a few voiced lines when picking up items were perhaps repeated a bit too often.


SAND LAND is a fairly traditional open-world RPG game that focuses on controlling different vehicles. You’ll be playing as Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons, together with his companions. In his search for a legendary spring of water, you’ll travel across the desert, raiding different bases, and meeting a lot of colorful characters as you explore, while also maintaining and upgrading your vehicles. The offset is quite simple, and objectives are always clearly marked, so you’ll never get lost.

With a heavy focus on the vehicles, you’ll actually be able to skip a lot of the hand-to-hand combat in this game when you’re out exploring. You can shoot enemies from a distance, and you’ll still get your regular experience as a reward. As you progress, you can start customizing your vehicles by swapping weapons and other parts. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to create a different set of vehicles that will suit every type of occasion. You’ll gradually unlock new ways of transportation, ranging from bipod mech-like contraptions to ships. This does make traveling around the world a lot more pleasant, and being able to upgrade your vehicles also adds another interesting mechanic to the mix. Of course, Beelzebub can also unlock new combos and active skills, and his party members can also give him passive buffs or use a few active skills here and there. There is enough micromanagement here to keep you entertained for a bit. We did find that the overall leveling was a bit slower compared to other similar titles, especially at the beginning of the game.

Regular combat works as expected, even though SAND LAND does suffer from wonky controls. You’ll notice that everything feels a bit dated when it comes to the general mechanics, and even with the desert setting, the world feels a bit empty. We would have loved a bit more polish, and perhaps better pacing, as things tend to feel a bit slow. This is mainly because you have to cross quite a few empty areas to reach some objectives. It’s actually strange that we found things to be rather slow, as beating the game can be done in roughly 20 to 25 hours, if you don’t stray too much from the beaten path.


Even though SAND LAND suffers from a few dated gameplay design choices and the world could have used a bit more things to do, we absolutely enjoyed our time with this quirky title. We were immediately sold thanks to the colorful and witty characters, and the overall story proved to be the cherry on top. Even though the main story will only take you roughly 25 hours to beat, explorers and completionists will still be able to uncover a few cool things when they venture out into the desert wastelands. If you’re a fan of old-school RPG adventure titles, then this one will probably be for you.

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