Sand Land Review

Do you know what I love about reviewing games based on anime and manga? I don’t watch or read any of them and can base the game on its merits. The latest of them to release is Sand Land, brought to us by ILCA and Bandi Namco, the latter being responsible for work on the Nier series and, most recently, One Piece Odyssey. With the DNA from these previous games, let’s see if it holds up on its own two feet.

You start the game as a merry band of misfit demons who track down a water supply and raid the van. You play as The Fiend Prince Beelzebub. After doing a quick mission to give water to your village, you are told the story of how the world ended up the way it did, with humans raging wars against each other, resulting in the Sand Land. When you return from the successful mission, it does a fantastic job of painting a picture, so to say, of how dire it is living outside of the Royal Army control.

In Sand Land, demons and humans coexist in a tense harmony. As players delve deeper into the game, they discover that while life is generally satisfactory, humans harbour deep-seated fears of the demons they encounter. The plot thickens when a human sheriff from a neighbouring town approaches your settlement. He seeks assistance in locating the Legendary Spring, which he believes lies hidden somewhere in the nearby desert. The demons are initially sceptical, having never heard of such a spring. However, their interest is piqued when the sheriff shares a tale of a bird that feeds exclusively on fish. Spotting this bird in the desert, he surmised that there must be a water source nearby. This intriguing hint sets the stage for an uneasy collaboration.

So it is settled, a Prince, a Sheriff and a Thief (an elder of the village) hit the road searching for the Legendary Spring. Then, about an hour into Sand Land, you meet the sassy mechanic Ann, who is captured by the Royal Army, and you help her escape to help you with your cause.

It was after the whole team was together that I was so impressed with the voice-over work that I had to check to see if the voiceovers were done by the original cast of the TV series. To my surprise, they were not the cast from the latest series, “Sand Land,” currently streaming on Netflix. However, upon closer examination, I discovered that they were indeed the same actors, but from the 2023 season of the series made the year prior. That probably made sense, considering the time it takes to make a game. But my point here is that the acting in this game is well done, and I’m happy to report that there were no really annoying characters located across the map of Sand Land.

The party settle in a town called Spino, which has seen better days as not many people live there. The mayor helps you out with a garage to use, but in return, you must help Spino return to its glory days. This will make up most of the side missions as you find people littered across Sand Land who will eventually be able to help the town and you with upgrades to the tanks and offer side quests of their own.

Beelzebub relishes his role as a feared demon across the Sand Land but also shows signs of having a heart of gold. Sherrif Rao is that dependable voice of reason looking out for the people, and Thief is there to look after the Prince with whitty lines. Ann is a strong, go-get-them character who is the heart of the team, keeping the vehicles up to scratch and always ready to improve them.

This leads me to the gameplay part of the review. While it’s nothing like Nier, where you must time your blocks for perfect parries, its combat is fairly basic: weak, strong, special and dodge. Pretty straightforward, right? As the game progresses and you level up, you will learn more technical skills. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t get too worried early on in the game with its simple combat. It gets better with its RPG style of levelling up. But at the heart of the Sand Land gameplay is its vehicles. You start off with a tank which not only gets you from point A to B but is also the main amount of combat you will use during your time in Sand Land. While you can always get out of the tank and attract hand-to-hand, it’s not how the game was designed to be played. It’s a vehicle combat game with hand-to-hand fighting options, which is weird considering the amount of combat levelling up required. The vehicle combat is very simple and repetitive when fighting with ‘Alpha’ beasts and bosses. I found myself relying on just driving around in a circle to dodge attacks while firing away. So it’s safe to say that combat in Sand Land is not Street Fighter.

In addition to combat, there are stealth moments throughout the game when you play as Thief and other teammates. These are kind of simple, but the gossip queen Thief is always listening to what’s going on in the areas. I found this helped to flesh out the members of the Royal Army.

The world is huge, and there are a few caves to visit early on. It opens up to where people need saving from the beasts that roam the lands and will reward you for their good deeds. I was concerned at the lack of content with all the caves being the same. I thought that they would lead to a dungeon or something that would add a bit more depth to the world, but as you progress further into the game, there are ancient ruins that serve as dungeon areas, and you are rewarded with better loot in these. Materials found in caves and chests through the Sand Land can be used to upgrade your tank and give it temporary stat boosts. In addition to this, there are radio towers which can be repaired to reveal activities and caves around the area. Likewise, there are small hub towns that offer garages to upgrade and repair your tank, bounties to take and collect and workshops to make tank parts, along with normal merchants selling health and buffs.

A minor annoyance is when you exit the tank to enter a cave, and when you return, the tank is always gone, so you must recall it by pressing right on the D-pad and selecting a vehicle. But then on the plus side, that means you can recall the tank at any time, even in caves and inside areas. The game has many options to venture off the beaten path to locate valuable resources and tank parts, so it’s encouraged not to make a beeline straight to the mission markers and take the time to explore what the world has to offer.

Sand Land is an action/RPG with the RPG elements being very light but play a part in the game to serve as combat improvements. At its heart, it is more of a vehicle shooter game with splashes of other combat to keep it fresh. I enjoyed the side quests; the conversations were entertaining, and the story of Sand Land inhabitants vs the Royal Army screamed Star Wars at me as the evil empire looked to dominate the world with control over the water supply.



Sand Land falls victim to some pretty dull combat and level design but is uplifted by the entertaining cast, charming Borderlands-like graphics, and a decent vehicle upgrading system.


  • All the characters are entertaining

  • The Borderlands-like graphics make the game look amazing

  • Creating and upgrading vehicles gives you a sense of ownership

  • Gameplay is varied


  • Combat is rather simple

  • Low experience points for killing means grinding to upgrade

  • Caves in the game are rinse and repeat

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