Released (on Steam): 2 Jan, 2020
Genres: Adventure, Indie, RPG, Strategy, Early Access
Developer: Han-Squirrel Studio
Publisher: X.D. Network Inc.
Steam Price: £11.39
Completion: Completed once and taken over the world as Jackal.
Playtime at Review: 47.8 hours
Total Playtime: 48.8 hours
Achievements at Review: 28/35 (80%)
My rating: 8.3/10
Various characters to play as, with different quest lines.
Has some great Mount & Blade similarities, including relationships with characters, cities, and factions.
Great graphics style and soundtrack!
A world full of content and interactions!
There are some issues with the English translation.
Battles are pure chaos and not very fun.
From the moment I saw Sands of Salzaar, I knew I would love it! It’s been sitting in my Steam library since release as I (impatiently) awaited the English localisations. Fortunately, English was introduced in September, and come November I finally got around to playing. As expected, once I began playing, I found it hard to stop! For an early access game, it’s really pretty awesome! That’s not to say it’s without flaws though.
Upon starting the game, you choose to play as one of several different characters/classes, each with their own specific skill tree, unique troops, magic/arcana, starting troops and specialties. I played through as a Jackal which had me starting the game with two Bounty Hunters, the ability to recruit other Bounty Hunters, and the Jackal skill tree. I wasn’t able to learn any Arcana with this class though. The Jackal skill tree was pretty basic but the addition of the legacy skill trees made it a little better. Other classes, especially with Arcana and additional Legacy unlocks, can become much more impressive and diverse.
The next part of character creation involves the Legacy system. Legacy Points can be used to start with additional bonuses, be it skills, items, more inventory space, specific party characters and more. You initially begin with 60 Legacy Points, which I put into additional passive skills for crit and dexterity boosts. Each completion of the game will increase the total number of legacy points depending on what you’ve achieved during your playthrough. After my first playthrough, I now have 392 Legacy Points ready to use at the start of the next game.
Following the class selection and legacy points allocation, you move onto the character creation. You get to select your hairstyle, face type, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, beard, body, and trinket (masks, scars, wrinkles). It’s a pretty simple creation system, but it still took me plenty of time to choose what I wanted!
I’ve seen many people saying that Sands of Salzaar is similar to the Mount and Blade games, and they’re not wrong. There are numerous similarities, but there are just as many differences too! The obvious similarities are with the different factions, cities, and characters, and your ability to improve and reduce relations with them depending on your actions. The character and city quests are incredibly familiar with the likes of rounding up runaways, collecting debts, hunting down fugitives, making deliveries, and a few other quests. You can also besiege, take over cities, and appoint your followers as sultan of cities.
There are many differences with Sands of Salzaar, the first one I noticed being the focus on exploration. Unlike Mount and Blade, Sands of Salzaar is split into different maps, each of which are unexplored and unknown, other than the city locations. Exploring uncovers a plethora of different explorable locations, combat scenarios, plants, items, and prestige shards throughout the world, as well as other characters with side-quests and other mysterious events.
Another big difference was the focus on the main story questline, side quests, and character questlines (depending on the character you choose at the start). The main questline didn’t seem particularly long for me, but that’s likely because I took over the world prior to doing most of the quests. I imagine if I had attempted the quests first, I would have hit a wall and had to stop to level up and recruit more soldiers before being able to progress. The way I played it, the only slight challenge was a the very end.
Battles and sieges were the biggest difference between Sands of Salzaar and Mount and Blade. Unfortunately it’s not a good difference. I absolutely love the battles in Mount and Blade! It’s one of the aspects that gives it such awesome replay value! Sands of Salzaar has a rather disappointing battle system though, especially when it comes to sieges. You have basic control over your troops, with the ability to command them all or based on their category of melee, ranged, or mounted. It was of some use, but not as much as I would like. Battles were just pure chaos for the most part, particularly with larger battles. There were many times when I couldn’t even see myself. There was just a mass of bodies smashing together. While I appreciate the reality of chaotic battles, it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable experience in this case. Troops often moved so fast that I struggled to click on them to use my skills. It’s a real shame, because this is the main flaw I’ve found with the game, and I truly hope it gets a revamp during early access. While there are various reasons to replay the game, the battles are the one thing putting me off doing so.
Sands of Salzaar is an awesome game overall, albeit not well polished just yet, but then again, Mount and Blade games are far from polished years after release and I love them! I noticed a variety of mistakes with the English translation, but considering the amount of text, it was pretty minimal, and nothing that disrupted my understanding of what was being said too much. The stories, characters, soundtrack, and most of the gameplay were great, but the battles really let it down. If they can improve the battle/siege system then it would likely become one of my favourites! It’s still well worth at least one playthrough as it stands though, and I highly recommend it despite its flaws!
Posted on 18-11-2020