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[Mobile Games] Sands of Salzaar review - "An insanely deep open-ended experience


Douma

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As mystical as its title suggests, Sands of Salzaar thrusts you into an enchanted land of monsters and men where you can either stick to your own lane or flow with the endless sands and let the vast landscape direct your path. The open-world single-player RPG is an open-ended adventure where you can be whoever you want to be, whether that's a tyrannical fearmonger or a noble saviour coming to save a ravaged land.

While all that sounds fascinating on paper, does the mobile version live up to the hype on Steam, or are the fabled sands best kept away from your touchscreen? As is usually the case, the very first thing that drew me into the game is the art style. Sands of Salzaar boasts a lovely comic-book-esque feel plus text-based narratives that reveal the story through accompanying illustrations. While the game foregoes elaborate cutscenes for simple text, I didn't feel like there was really anything I missed. The story as presented in scrolls does its job effectively, in my opinion - but then again, the narrative here isn't really anything to write home about.

The 2D artwork, thankfully, sets the game apart enough along with the character designs that will make you want to collect each hero you meet along the way - and there are a LOT of them. The main character itself is already drawn beautifully as it is. You'll have a variety of choices depending on your playstyle, and while you can customise the look of your character with everything from face shape to headgear and outfits, I didn't feel the need to switch up the way I looked - the character design is just that good. Of course, after the novelty of the visuals wears off, the gameplay is what really dictates whether or not a game is worth sticking to. Fortunately, the open-world nature of the RPG got me hooked from the get-go - in fact, I enjoyed going around from town to town so much doing favours for people and levelling up my character that I almost didn't want to progress with the main campaign.

 Sadly, that just means the main story isn't compelling enough. The narrative definitely falls by the wayside here, in my opinion, because while the game definitely scratches that itch of wanting to explore every single corner of the huge map, it doesn't have a captivating enough story that's akin to other single-player open-world RPGs like The Witcher or anything like that. Basically, you'll start off with a blank slate. You can befriend factions to gain favour with them, or antagonise them and be a wanted enemy of the state. You can also take down wandering bandits if you feel like it, and you really will need to just for the sake of all the loot. There are tons of things to discover while simply roaming around the world itself, from shiny junk on the ground to mines and camps that may or may not be guarded by hostile forces. There are monsters to fight or recruit as well, just like you can with the humans you encounter along the way.

https://www.pocketgamer.com/sands-of-salzaar/review/

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