Coming to us from indie developer Han-Squirrel Studio, an open world strategy ARPG Sands of Salzaar create some buzz when it received an English localization update last year. Now, more than a year later, Sands of Salzaar launched the Early Access feature. Choose from one of eight classes (or build your own), you can build an army capable of dominating Sands of Salzaar?
20 years after the fall of the Old Empire, the Salzaar desert is rife with conflict and strife. Monsters brought into the world by the rise of the Black Sun destroy the world around them, but rival tribes continue to battle each other for control of the desert. It sounds epic, but the main story is less inspiring. As you continue the story in SoS, the story of a battle between humans and Ifrit told at the irregular pace of an amateur dungeon master. While some passages are interesting and well-written, those parts are hidden in the dialogue, such as, “You’re not normal,” followed by elegant replies like, “I guess so.”
Class quests and other side quests are treated equally and dialogue in SoS quickly become secondary to your primary goal – gain the experience and resources to build a large army of followers. Depending on the character class you’ve chosen, you can start your adventure alone, while other classes can start with a second hero or other regular troops. Additional teams can be purchased at each town you pass through. These troops are general types of militia, but different, more exotic creatures and troop types can be recruited through other means.
All teams you recruit will gain experience and level up through combat. Additional skills can be learned for specific periods of time depending on the unit type. Some armies even have branching promotion options, allowing you to specialize them in different areas like melee or ranged combat, or even focus them on magical arts .
Your original character and the other heroes you acquire have more customization options than your general army. Along with armor and weapons that can be equipped, each hero has one or more skill trees to practice with. Your choices all dictate your hero’s approach to combat, be it from a distance with spells or rocket weapons, or jumping right into the fray with swords or swinging hammers.
Gathering the perfect heroes and supporters, and then leveling them up into a powerful military force, takes time and resources. Lots and lots of resources. Fortunately, the open world map is full of resources for picking. The world is littered with typical ARPG loot, including piles of stones, wood, and gold to collect. Each area also has unique creature packs and human opponents to farm for experience and loot.
There are also various points of interest to explore in each area. These encounters serve as repeatable dummy dungeons (on a timer). While each of these encounters may have many levels, no actual exploration has been made. Each floor is presented as a page of text, each layer representing a random event. Some floors are empty, while others have a small cache or encounter combat. The only real interaction in these dungeons occurs on the skirmish floors, which kick off a real battle sequence. Ultimately, this lack of interaction makes these encounters nothing more than a loot chest that requires extra clicks to complete.
Not the most fun dungeon crawl ever done.
All of these are fine at the start of your adventure, but as your army grows, you’ll need to find more efficient ways to gather large amounts of resources. This is where the dynamic world and partisan politics begin to kick in. You see, along with bandits and other targets that move around the world, each town also has groups of citizens, caravans, and military patrols that will travel from one point to another. You can act as a protector and support these groups if they happen to be attacked by other groups of NPCs to gain benefits with a group. Or, if you’re willing to risk the fury of one or two factions, maybe you’ll become the aggressor and attack these resource-rich targets? No matter what role you choose to play, you’re bound to offend someone as your need for resources continues to grow.
You will quickly progress from the low yield of easy targets to better loot from looting a bandit camp. From there, you begin besieging towns. Then, when the NPCs start their own attacks, another layer of strategy comes into play as you start your fight to survive. In theory, the steady escalation of power and the need for resources is what drives players to continue building an empire in the future. Sands of Salzaar long after the story missions are completed. And that would be the case if the sands of time didn’t reveal how shallow the gameplay really is.
The fastest component of Sands of Salzaar to fall is the war. At first glance, SoS looks like any regular ARPG, Diablo 3, Eg. You’re running around in the genre-defining standard isometric view, with a map full of collectable resources and roaming enemies. Unlike zerg-fest’s battle Diablo 3, even so, fighting in SoS takes place on an unstable map. This is a positive move that will complement the core aspect of building a team of heroes and troops that will be strategically directed to overwhelm your enemies. Unfortunately, combat is anything but strategy, and once you have more than a few squads to command, things quickly spiral out of control. As the battle begins, both armies rush towards each other until all the melee units create a large blob of light, making it impossible to hit a specific target effectively.
There’s even more chaos on larger maps, where your enemies start at multiple points. With each team moving at different speeds, your troops spread across the battlefield as the AI that directs your troops begins to attack different target areas. At the same time, other pieces are left behind when their pacing gets them stuck on environmental obstacles or each other for that matter. All of this takes strategy out of the equation, assigning victory to the side with the dominant force more often than not.
Diplomacy and factions of SoS fall into a similar lack of strategy. Although each map area has a different environmental appearance, they do not have any fundamental strategic differences. The Alpine Guerillas of the snowy Zagros Mountains offer no challenge or reward other than the Desert Brotherhood of the sandy wastelands of the Docana Desert. Each town offers the same amenities and common quests, so faction allies and enemies are ultimately decided by which party you support or attack first.
The most impactful decisions are all made during character creation, and all of them will be made without understanding what each decision entails. Even if you guess right and choose a class that suits your playstyle, your character will never be everything thanks to the Legacy Point system. Legacy points are earned through completing achievements and they carry over to subsequent plays, all but encouraging you to sprint through the story mode to start fresh with a stronger character in the story. sandbox mode.
Character selection. The most important (or only) decision you will ever make.
On the surface, Sands of Salzaar there is so much to offer. The idea of a living, breathing sandbox world to explore is fascinating. Every decision, from the character class you choose to the way you build your army to the diplomatic choices you make as you grow your empire, all have the potential to dramatically change the course of your life. events in a single play. However, in its current state, none of the core elements were deep enough to create Sands of Salzaar anything other than a numerical processing simulator.
Sands of Salzaar, for all intents and purposes, feels more like a work in progress than a final release. If this were an early access preview, I would say each core component has potential and just needs to be added. As a final product review, I must say that though Sands of Salzaar promises an engaging mix of RPG and strategy elements, but it doesn’t provide the depth and complexity needed for long-term replayability.
Full disclosure: A copy of this game is provided by PR for the purposes of this review.
https://www.mmorpg.com/reviews/not-so-mmo-sands-of-salzaar-review-2000123998 Not So MMO: Sands of Salzaar Review