Suppose I’ve learned anything at all about my favorite genre over the years. In that case, it’s that smaller developers love to experiment with it. Pairing the platformer with other genres is nothing new and has led to some interesting Frankenstein cases over the years. From RPGs and rogue-lites (and god only knows how many Metroidvanias) to light pet simulations, there’s an abundance of hit-or-miss mashups to dive into for genre enthusiasts. XSEED’s adorable Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin appears to have hit it out of the park with the most unusual seasoning- rice simulation. (Yes, you read that right.)
Sakuna was released last month on Switch/PC/PS4; the game sees you in the titular character’s role as she learns the age-old lesson of humility. As a Goddess turned exile living on the Isle of Demons, Sakuna is tasked with ridding the environment of evil while etching out a living among those she once lived above. Through (you guessed it) harvesting rice and other sources of sustenance. Sakuna is part of a 2.5D platformer, part simulator, and a complete success. After having just been on the market for a little over two weeks, XSEED has proudly announced that the game has surpassed 500,000 units sold.
“We’ve known that Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin was a special game and would have broad appeal…” said Kenji Hosoi, Executive Vice President of XSEED Games on the current success Sakuna is enjoying.
Gamespot scored the game an 8 out of 10, praising the depth of the simulation half.
Reviewer Heidi Kemps mentions that “If you don’t know the first thing about cultivating and harvesting rice, you will learn a lot about just how intricate and labor-intensive the process is simply from playing Sakuna.”
My biggest concern as a player has always been the balance between playstyles when it comes to hybrids. Even in some of my all-time favorite genre-busters (case in point, Gargoyle’s Quest), there’s a bit of lopsidedness in the complete package. Sometimes the platforming is underdeveloped, and other times, it’s whatever the devs wanted it to marry. Fortunately, it would appear that the combat and platforming have not taken a backseat.
According to Kemps, “Sakuna’s combat has a very fun physics system that lets you launch, juggle, and fling enemies around with combinations of normal, special, and Raiment attacks.”
Admittedly, I’ve not yet played Sakuna for myself. But, between the gorgeous cel-shaded environments and my undying thirst for new spins on this age-old genre- it’s something I want to get around to soon. It’s currently selling for $39.99 on PS4/Switch/PC digitally and physically. Of course, there’s also a special “Divine” edition for the collectors out there for an additional $20. (And of course, it contains a bevy of goodies, including a “Japanese omamori charm”)