Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama's resume speaks for itself. He's one of the most artistic minds in all of anime. While he's been known in animation for Dragon Ball and in gaming for Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger, he's also seen fondly for a slightly lesser known manga series called Sand Land. After trying it out at Summer Game Fest, however, we at Shacknews are thinking it should make the transition to video games nicely.
Sand Land is set in a post-apocalyptic world where water is a scarce resource, and survivors live in a desert as far as the eye can see, a narrative setting that draws comparisons to the cinematic classic Mad Max. Players take on the role of Beelzebub, the diminutive Prince of Demons. Just as in the manga, Beelzebub's main purpose is to help Sheriff Rao in his quest to free the survivors of this world from the despotic and greedy rule of the world's evil king. Along with Rao, Beelzebub travels with his thieving sidekick... Thief. In reading the description of this manga, I can see that I've been missing out, but I digress.
The Sand Land demo kicks off with Beelzebub in a golf cart trying to outrun a dangerous Geji Dragon. This set the tone for the story early, throwing players into a frantic chase against a hellacious monster. It was almost impossible to avoid the dragon's strikes, and I was lucky to survive with a sliver of HP left before the next cutscene kicked in and started the overworld portion of the demo.
Enemies were out and about throughout the desert, which led to some standard action-RPG fare. It didn't take long, though, for Sand Land to set itself apart from its contemporaries. After dispatching a crew of bandits, a different kind of reward was left behind. I was able to steal their tank and take it for a joyride. At this point, Sand Land became an enjoyable shooting gallery, where I was able to shoot at wild raptors and enemy bandits with heavy artillery. Of course, this being a Mad Max-style world, enemies would sometimes roll up with their own tanks, and it didn't take long before my hunk of junk was on the ropes.
Sand Land's demo felt all too short, but it offered a good taste of what to expect. Bandai Namco has quietly been on a hot streak of solid anime adaptations, coming fresh off the sorely overlooked One Piece Odyssey. There's good reason to believe that Sand Land will keep this trend going whenever it's ready. Sand Land is coming soon to PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 4.
This preview is based on a PC demo played on-site from the Summer Game Fest: Play Days event and may not be representative of the final product. Meals were provided by Summer Game Fest.