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Sand Land Review – Desert Dilemma

Sand Land is one of the final projects by the legendary creator Akira Toriyama. Although he wrote the manga in the early 2000s, it is only now being adapted into both a video game and an anime. The game is primarily an open-world action RPG, featuring a lovable cast and the trademark Toriyama art and humor that fans have come to appreciate.

The game’s protagonist is Beelzebub, a demon with a heart of gold, who is joined by his sidekicks: Rao, Ann, and Thief. Set in a desert, the game allows players to freely explore the map, scavenging for items and battling monsters. It is played primarily as an action RPG, offering multiple ways to attack enemies. Players can combine light and heavy attacks to perform combos, while Beelzebub can also execute special moves. Beelzebub receives assistance from his sidekicks, and both the main and side characters can be upgraded to enhance their abilities.

Initially, I was unfamiliar with Sand Land or its manga, so this game introduced me to a new intellectual property that mainly appealed to me because the same person behind Dragon Ball created it. After playing the game, I became a fan of its world and characters. My first impressions were very positive. The game utilizes the latest iteration of Unreal Engine to its full potential, offering a stylized world that faithfully recreates manga and anime. It makes players feel immersed in this world. The controls are simple, and the game includes numerous cinematic scenes and set pieces well-integrated into the gameplay, elevating it into a special experience.

Sand Land serves both as a sequel to the original manga and a retelling. The world and its lore are already established, but the game gradually reveals its depth. Water is the most precious resource in Sand Land, so it is no surprise that the main quest revolves around finding it. Exploration in the open world is managed through various vehicles, which can be upgraded with scavenged parts found throughout the game. Some of the vehicles include a motorcycle, a mech, a tank, and a traditional car.

While Sand Land excels in its presentation, its gameplay falls short. The game focuses on vehicle combat, particularly piloting a tank and engaging in frequent skirmishes. There are also sections requiring stealth and general combat. Playing as Beelzebub is enjoyable, but the combat encounters become repetitive due to a lack of variety and challenge. Although Beelzebub learns new moves, the combat difficulty never necessitates using most of them. This design might work for a shorter, more linear game, but it is less effective for an open-world action RPG.

One positive aspect of the open world is the side quests, which are quite enjoyable and offer valuable rewards that aid in the main quests. The game feels like an anime version of Mad Max, but there are still sections where players control Beelzebub to navigate obstacles, combining platforming, stealth, and combat. While these sections are not overly difficult, they remain one of the weaker parts of the game.

I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic setting of Sand Land’s world, which has a unique sci-fi appeal. If you are already a fan of Dragon Ball, you will appreciate what Toriyama has achieved here. Each character in the game, whether a main or side character, has a unique trait and personality. I also liked how Beelzebub is obsessed with video games, creating a sort of fourth-wall-breaking moment as we play Beelzebub in a video game.

While the story may not have many twists, the world itself provides an interesting perspective on how people manage their lives without an abundance of water. This delivers a clear message to conserve resources and stop wasting them. Water is one of the most precious resources, so its importance is magnified in the game. This aspect made me reflect on and view the real world differently.

Sand Land features clear and witty dialogue that keeps the story moving, though there are moments where the writing falls short. Despite this, I appreciated the character development throughout the game. By the time I reached the credits, I wanted to spend more time with these characters. As mentioned earlier, the game retells the manga’s story, but once you reach the midpoint, it shifts focus to what happens to Beelzebub and his friends after the manga ends. Overall, it is a game that can take upwards of 20 hours if you take your time with it.

Sand Land Game Information

  • Price: $59.99
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco
  • Developer: ILCA
  • Platform: PC/PS5 (Reviewed)
  • Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher


Sand Land is a visually stunning game with a heartfelt narrative that unfortunately stumbles in gameplay variety. Fans of Toriyama’s work will find much to love, while newcomers might find the combat repetitive. Nevertheless, it is a journey worth experiencing, especially for those who appreciate a well-crafted world and engaging story.

Total Rating

Ali Haider

Ali Haider loves to dabble in multimedia projects. He has a passion for editing and managing YouTube videos and loves writing in his spare time.

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