“Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” review: a unique “rice planting simulator”

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If you want to ask what game has sparked hot discussion among players recently, it must be “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”. This Japanese-style farming + horizontal action game developed by a little-known independent game studio has impressed a large number of players with an extraordinary hardcore gameplay, and they have devoted themselves to the great cause of “rejuvenating the country by agriculture”. From the pre-release “Rice Farming” to the post-release “Rice Planting Simulator”, in what ways can “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” stand out from many horizontal action games and become a hit?

Edelweiss, who developed and produced “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”, is a Japanese independent game studio. There are only two core members. They are “NAる” who is responsible for programming and “こいち” who is responsible for graphic content. The main types of games developed are shooting and horizontal action. Because they often sell their works on COMIKET, Japan’s largest fan art exhibition, they are also regarded by many players as “doujin clubs.”

Players who are familiar with COMIKET must be very clear. Although COMIKET mainly sells doujinshi, there are also many original animation games and even music works, such as TYPE-MOON, Touhou Project, SOUND HORIZON, etc. They all use the COMIKET platform to enter the public eye. The same goes for Edelweiss games.

Unlike most independent game creators who are self-taught or have just graduated from professional colleges, Edelweiss’ two main creators are professional developers from game companies. Their unique qualifications make their work easier to be independent from the vast Stand out in the game ocean. In 2011, the two participated in the C80 with a horizontal version of the action game (Hanasaki Fairy Fairy), and they became the dazzling stars of that COMIKET. The game has a very high degree of completion. Although it is simple to operate, it can play refreshing and gorgeous high-level combos. The setting of “enemy will hit other enemies and give additional damage after being blown away” also makes many People in the game industry shined.

After reading this, players who have played “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” may have discovered that this is a major feature of this game? That’s right, the sequel to “Hanasaki Fairy Frigia” was established. As for why it was changed to a Japanese farming action game midway, Edelweiss did not publicly mention it, but the reason behind it must be almost the same as the players guessed. “Oboro Muramasa” is related to the popularity.

“Oboro Muramasa” is a horizontal version of the Wii platform action clearance game released by the Herb Society in 2009. It uses a Japanese world view as the background and features a hand-painted Ukiyo-e scroll style game atmosphere. It depicts a game with two protagonists and each Strange stories about all kinds of monster swords and famous swords. When the game was first released, despite good media reviews, sales were very poor, with only 45,000 copies sold. Although I don’t know how many discs were pressed by the Vanilla Company at the time, from the fact that “the cheap version of “Oboro Muramasa” released next year was directly covered with a cheap version of the paper, it must have been a backlog of many entities. Edition inventory.

However, it is very common for a great game to fail to be appreciated by players for various reasons, and it is not impossible to “turn over” at the right time. In 2013, “Oboro Muramasa” returned on the PSV platform, and finally took advantage of the handheld platform to successfully imprint the style of “Japanese style + horizontal version” in the hearts of players.

Therefore, when Edelweiss released the PC experience version of “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” on C89 in 2015, the saying that “the popularity of “Oboro Muramasa” became popular, then Edelweiss added farming elements to the game. There is also the alias of “Rural Zheng” which is now more mainstream.

From its first release in 2015 to its official release in 2020, “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” has maintained the frequency of releasing intelligence once or twice a year. Although it will not fade out of the players’ field of vision, it is difficult to attract much attention. Take me as an example. Every time I see new news about “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”, my first reaction is “So this game is still under development?”. After all, independent game studios are not compatible with funds or concepts. It is very common for the project to be aborted due to reasons. It was not until last year that the game announced that it would also release the NS and Steam versions, I suddenly realized that “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” was really going to be released.

As a platinum loyal to “Oboro Muramasa”, of course I want to see what the results of “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” after 5 years of “copying” are. But when I entered the game confidently, after playing the prologue and boarding the ghost island, I was completely dumbfounded: Who am I? Where am i? What am i doing? What about “Rural Upright”? Why should I plant seedlings by myself? How much water do you put in? Don’t you even let go of the dung? !

What exactly is “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”?

Saki Inahime is the beloved daughter of the god of war and the god of fertility. She has lived a rich, well-fed, degenerate life in heaven since she was a child. One day, due to an accidental encounter with a mortal, the granary in the heavens was burnt down, and the Lord God drove to a small island full of evil spirits to farm for atonement. So to put it simply, the story of “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” is actually a game version of the “transformer”.

The game consists of two parts: simulated operation (farming) and combat. This kind of game that combines the two types of gameplay is not rare, but the special feature of “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” is that the battle can only be used to obtain materials needed for farming or making equipment (plus advancing the main storyline). It does not give Saki Inahime any experience points. The only way to improve Saki Inahime’s own abilities is to grow rice, and the better the rice quality, the higher the attribute level. On the other hand, only when Saki Inahime’s level is raised, can we further promote the development of the plot and explore more difficult mazes. The materials from high-level mazes are also more conducive to the quality of rice. This complementary and interlocking system design will ” “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” is completely separated from “Oboro Muramasa”.

Let’s talk about the feelings of the two game modes of farming and fighting.

Hard-core farming, rice is power

Before playing this game, I thought that the so-called “farming” was similar to that of “Random Story”. Just press a few buttons to plant seeds, sprinkle water, weeding, and harvest golden rice in autumn. But in fact, the farming part of this work is completely a “rice planting simulator”! Before planting, you need to plow the ground and remove rocks and other debris. The softer the ground is, the less weeds will be in the coming year. Before planting, you must use muddy water to screen the quality of the seeds. The pursuit of high-quality seeds will make the rice worse. The quality is improved, but the yield will be reduced. After the seeds are selected and the seedlings are raised, they can be inserted into the fields one by one. After that, weeding, fertilizing, and water control are required according to the tillering situation; After a series of operations such as harvesting, sun-drying, shelling, and shelling, the planting task for this year has been completed. It can be said that “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” allows players to experience the difficulties of farmers without leaving their homes, and understand what is meant by “hard work”, and I believe that most players are playing until they need to dig out manure to make fertilizer. My heart collapsed during the plot…

Japan is a country that uses rice as its staple food, but few people really understand how rice is produced. The two main creators of Edelweiss thought that instead of simply doing some large-scale simulation operations in large-scale towns, it might be more interesting to concentrate on in-depth research in a narrow field, so they added the usefulness to “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”. The farming system summarized by the word “hard core”.

In fact, neither of the two creators’ hometowns were engaged in agriculture, and they knew almost nothing about rice cultivation. So I bought a “rice planting package” sold by educational institutions from the beginning, and spent 200 days growing half a bowl of rice on my balcony. Later, I went to the National Library to borrow a large number of papers related to rice planting, and added all the knowledge I learned into the game.

From the point of view of the production team, maybe just want to pass the fun of “growing rice” to players through the game, but from the point of view of players, such a professional planting system without clear guidance is very difficult to get started. Some players failed to master the basic essentials in the first year, resulting in extremely low rice output and could only drink porridge every day. More players went to the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan to learn their experience in order to master the planting skills as much as possible. For a while, “how to increase rice production capacity” has become a hot topic among players. Even many people who were not interested in “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” were eager to try and try to get started. This seemingly unexpected popularity is actually It is an inevitable product catalyzed by the craftsmanship of the production team and the players’ research enthusiasm.

A hoe is both a farm tool and a weapon

Compared with the hardcore farming system, the combat part of “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” is relatively close to the people. Saki Inahime can use both light and heavy farm tools (weapons) at the same time, combined with feather coat skills and martial skills, and simple operations can also achieve refreshing and gorgeous combat effects. The feel is indeed closer to “Oboro Muramasa”, but there are still many differences in the details. For example, the above-mentioned “enemy will hit other enemies after being blown and blown away and give additional damage”, combined with some martial arts. , Is a weapon to clean up difficult enemies; in addition, there are a lot of terrain damage in the maze of this work, such as wood thorns, falling rocks, magma, etc. These special terrains will not only cause damage to Saki Inahime, but also if the enemy encounters it. It also hurts blood. Therefore, when the level is not high and it is difficult to fight monsters, it is a tactic to use terrain damage to trap the enemy.

But perhaps because of limited development funds, or because the main creators have devoted most of their energy to “farming,” some signs of cutting corners can still be seen in the battle. There are only a handful of types of monsters, and the maze is basically a road, even without map guidance. Although in order to increase the playability, the production team added the black and white sky mechanism and the exploration degree to achieve the conditions, but due to the main story advancement and the exploration degree are related, the players still can not escape the fate of “swipe the brush”.

“Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” uses a real-time timing system, that is to say, as long as the player is not in the state of opening the menu, whether it is exploring the maze, farming, or hanging up, time will pass. This leads players to plan for the day’s activities. If they enter the maze at noon, it is very likely that the day will be dark and have to exit (the level of monsters will increase significantly after nightfall); I have been out to fight monsters a long time ago, and I also need to return to the village halfway to pull out the grass and repel the insects and water the rice fields. This design may be somewhat uncomfortable for players who like to fight. Fortunately, the time in the game only affects the maturity of the rice, and does not increase the age of the NPC. Players can use this to only plant rice in the early stage to quickly upgrade the level.

Conclusion

After checking the information, I learned that although “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” was published by Marvelous, Marvelous did not give Edelweiss much technical and financial support. All the expenses in the past 5 years came from the personal deposits of “なる” . Because of financial constraints, “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin” can’t even use Unity or Unreal Engine, and can only choose the niche engine “Rainbow” developed by another independent game developer “にゃっほい屋” . Even so hard, Edelweiss still insisted on finishing “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”, which also made people pay more respect to the two producers.

Perhaps the horizontal version of the action game of the Vanilla Club is used as a standard to measure “Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin”. There are indeed some shortcomings that are hard to ignore. But for such producers and development teams who have ideas and will take action and are not swayed by the mainstream market, we should still give more tolerance and support.

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