Sand Land review – Are you thirsty for an adventure?

It’s hard not to get excited about what’s to come in Sand Land. Come on, the game’s main character, Beelzebub, is sporting the iconic Super Saiyan hairstyle that everyone loves! While the world of Sand Land may be set in a dry and vacant desert, there is no shortage of juicy content and colorful character development that is sure to spike engagement! With such a saturated story, fans should be eagerly anticipating what new twists and turns that Sand Land will introduce.

Sand Land is a popular Japanese Manga series that was written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama in the year 2000. Although the series gained moderate success over the years, it finally acquired more recognition with the release of an anime show adaptation in 2023. The series is currently being reimagined as an action role-playing game and will be released on April 26th, 2024. I, like the rest of the world, know that it is no secret that Akira Toriyama is one of the most acclaimed manga artists of all time, with his impressive body of work spanning several decades. His most notable series, Dragon Ball, is what introduced me to the world of anime in the first place. Games including the Dragon Quest series, gave me an early view of turn-based combat, action RPGs. So, my first glimpse of Sand Land at The Summer Game Fest, 2023, left the biggest impression and lived rent-free in my head.

Having the opportunity to play this game not only stirred up my inner child, but it was also a great privilege to delve into some of Toriyama’s final works. As with all of his previous masterpieces, Sand Land certainly did not disappoint.

The moment I set foot in the game, I was hit with a thrilling storyline. I instantly flipped off my lights, got my favorite juice, and gave Sand Land my full attention. You play as the demon Fiend Prince, Beelzebub, whose primary objective is to steal water from unsuspecting humans who pass by the demon’s base. Yes, you read correctly, that stealing water is a daily pleasure for Beelzebub and his unique crew of demons. You are put into a dry and vacant world where humans and demons suffer from an extreme water shortage due to the wars that the humans kept waging between each other. The human species itself is on the brink of extinction and while Beelzebub cannot stand humans, he understands they are necessary for his village to get water. Therefore, there is a sort of symbiotic relationship going on. Everything is really, just sand and various rock forms. It’s not too soon in the game that you start to see the creative motifs of Toriyama like oddly shaped lifeforms, full of life and character.

The adventure expands when you are then tasked to travel with an old human man named Sheriff Rao to find a water spring that has been deemed legendary. Embarking on an entirely new adventure, Beezlebub, Sheriff Rao, and Thief, another demon friend, are a company of heroic misfits that will come to explore the Sand Land and hopefully save both human and demonkind. During your journeys, you’ll be moving around primarily by using a range of vehicles that are completely adaptable to your needs! Your imagination will have to be a bit creative here as the game allows you to develop vehicles for various uses including battle tanks, hover cars, and hoppers. I believe this was the coolest part of the game, finding parts for each vehicle, upgrading them in the shop and even being able to add my own flair by giving it a paint job. These vehicles help traverse the vast terrain of the desert and to my surprise, are very well optimized to do so. While driving the tank around the sandy dunes, I was amazed at how responsive each control was. I was not hindered by clunky controls, from boosting to stopping to turning and shooting.

Each vehicle has a customizable control layout that is useful for adapting to the wheel since every vehicle system is different. I, personally, did not utilize this feature as I enjoyed the default experience on my Xbox controller with ease. However, this feature allows you to take control of unique vehicle features and determine which controller layout works for you. The storyline of the game eventually takes you to a broken town that is in a bit of need of a fixer-upper. This town becomes your home and with each mission, side quests, and level upgrade, the town flourishes with new aspects. It is a very neat responsibility that I loved since it gave me a place of belonging and that I worked hard to turn into a thriving city. You see your base grow as you invite people you’ve met on your journeys to the town.

One main vehicle feature that I just absolutely adored was Autopilot. Once activated, you are just able to cruise forward automatically. This was special since getting from one place to the other took some time. The vast world of Sand Land really puts distance between the various locations. The Autopilot feature will turn off when spotted by enemies. Yes! Enemies range from bandits to scorpions and of course, Toriyama’s favorites, dinosaurs. These enemies roam in packs and some are alphas that require a certain level of skill to defeat. Sand Land does not allow you to easily defeat higher-level enemies. I thought it was a game where leveling up would be easy then I messed around with a level six raptor and found out. You do not want to underestimate your enemies whether they travel by themselves or are a full-on mob, they will put you in your place.

Speaking of leveling, Sand Land fosters a unique leveling system for each character of your party! Character skill trees are some of my favorite aspects of any game and I believe Sand Land does it really well. Beelzebub will conform to the way you play including different attack powers, power enhancements, and more. It is pretty straightforward with the main character, however, with your other group of party members, character upgrades become more flexible. One cool character upgrade, for example, is gaining more materials from fights. You get one point for every time you level up and that one point goes to a single non-Beelzebub party member. This allows you to use that point wisely and to invest in a character early on in-game. Sheriff Rao’s skills call for a more aggressive type of play style as he is a war veteran and has strong skills for the offense. Thief’s playstyle is a bit more centered around loot and material gathering. So if you want to fill your bags after fighting a group of enemies, Thief’s skillset is one you are going to want to invest in. Ann’s playstyle is more support-focused. Her skills will provide major support to your active vehicle as she is the mechanic as well as healing your entire team, so she is very crucial when it comes to her skills. 

While we’re on the topic of combat, I will say, it is pretty. Whether you are in a vehicle or out on foot, combat in Sand Land does not disappoint. With two types of combat, Melee and Vehicle, you can master both. Melee combat will have you on the ground as Beezlebub, swinging, kicking, and evading to best his enemies. You are able to call in support from your party and that is where their unique skills come in handy. I personally would always use Rao since he is the strongest of the three companions and I also invested in his skill tree a bit more than the others. Vehicle combat depends on which vehicle you are using. A battle tank will have you boosting into your enemies, twisting, shooting missiles, and evading to gain a distance advantage. Cars are more nimble and do well in short-range battles to best smaller, and quicker enemies thanks to their maneuverability. Although I enjoyed a lot of the on-foot combat, it took a while to get used to the default button layout on my controller. Once my brain finally remembered the buttons, I wasn’t a button masher anymore. Vehicle combat felt smoother to me in my opinion, but sometimes, choosing the wrong vehicle for specified combat can mess up your entire plan. Therefore, you really have to be strategic when fighting.

Vehicles are also subjected to upgrades and with the Storage Capsule (paying homage to Capsule Corp from Dragon Ball), you are able to shrink vehicles to capsule-carrying size. You can carry up to five vehicles in this capsule to use on your adventure! When I acquired this feature, I was super excited because I was just waiting to carry the most useful vehicles to seamlessly traverse the desert. Upgrades allow you to interchange parts on your vehicles, customizing them for your exact situation. A beefy tank is needed for harsh boss fights, a speedy motorcycle is needed to escape robbery scenes, and a bouncy jump bot is needed to reach hidden treasures in high places. The variety of changes you are able to make is up to you but you will need to make sure to find parts around the world or purchase them from vendors (Thief’s skills become super useful when it comes to purchasing and finding materials). Certain enemy levels will force you to craft and upgrade your weapons. I found myself completely giving up on higher-level enemies due to my builds being completely outdated.

The town is also upgradeable. Yes, this game is super in-depth allowing you to level up everything! Town upgrades are definitely worth investing in early on to get a solid base where everything becomes accessible. With this sturdy foundation, you are able to recruit NPCs who bring unique uses to your town. Some are vendors who sell invaluable resources like weapons, vehicle upgrades, and more. All invited NPCs will stay and also, come with a whole slew of their own side quests to continue to upgrade the town.

When it comes to games like this, a crafting feature is just a cherry on top! I was surprised to even find out about the crafting feature and let me tell you, it is the primary way of getting the vehicle parts and upgrades that you want. This is why exploration is so important because getting these unique material pieces from your adventures on the sandy plains or purchasing them from a vendor could turn the tide in sticky situations. I always made sure to check out the stock when I arrived in a new town because doing so only played to my advantage in my continuous goals to upgrade my play style. Thief, again, will come in handy when you are winging to farm materials so invest in his skill tree if you are looking for a unique arsenal of materials to draw on when you craft. Chests are found all around the world, so there is a rewarding experience when exploring (which is just another amazing feature of any game for me). I will literally stay in one area, checking every nook and cranny for anything since I hate missing out on items. These chests have many crafting items like bolts and some even have minor item upgrades! It is a rewarding experience to explore around, seriously! Poke your nose into every cave, corner, and cavern.

My experience with Sand Land was more than just another RPG game with unique characters and an amazing storyline. It was more than just me spending countless hours defeating bosses way above my level (looking at you Alpha Raptor)! It was me, enjoying some of Toriyama-sans last works and being able to review it. It was experiencing the love of a certain art style that is unique and iconic. It was being able to listen to the amazing music that tickled my inner child and being able to point out occurrences in the game that would show up in many other instances of Toriyama’s works. It truly was an honor to play this great game and my goodness was it fun. Sand Land is worth it for sure. It has the art style, the music, the storyline, and aspects of a well-rounded video RPG game. If you are thirsty for an adventure filled to the brim with all sorts of amazing NPCs, side quests, a welcoming, but strong party, skill trees, unique vehicles, and more, Sand Land will quench your thirst.

Dominique' McClain is an enthusiastic content writer and enjoys all things video games. She's highly obsessed with Lord of the Rings and loves dragons. You can chat with her on Twitter @Dommy_Bomb.



Sand Land

Review Guidelines

Sand Land is not just another adventure, it's a thrilling journey through the creative landscapes of Toriyama's imagination. It's an oasis of content ready to be explored form one grain of sand to the next. With Beelzebub leading the charge, this game promises a haven of juicy content and vibrant character development amidst the dry, vacant desert setting. All I want to say is that fans should eagerly anticipate the release, it's clear that Toriyama's legacy continues to captivate audiences that will draw you into worlds where even deserts are brimming with life. So, grab your favorite juice and prepare for an RPG experience that'll leave you parched for more!

Dominique' McClain

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

See below for our list of partners and affiliates:

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now


To Top