Reviews - Updated on March 27, 2022

Sands of Salzaar attracts primarily with its concept: it mixes oriental flavor (the game is made in China, and the action takes place in the desert), a classic RPG with dialogues between partners and moral dilemmas, as well as strategic elements on the global map in the spirit of Mount & Blade – there are battles of entire armies, and the storming of cities. In words, it sounds, you see, seductive, but how is it implemented in practice?

To the desert with your cockroaches

First of all, we select the mode (story campaign or sandbox), as well as the main character or heroine. Five beauties and beauties are available (the art here is very nice, with a touch of anime, but quite elegant), and each with its own past and its own specialization.

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The picture is not that very beautiful, but stylish and expressive.

There is a bounty hunter, a shaman, a knight, a witch and a spiritual mage (Spiritmancer). The latter is the easiest to play for – he starts the campaign with a skilled assassin partner and is able to learn almost all skills and talents. But, for example, a bounty hunter is not capable of magic, but he starts the game in the company of two brothers at once. The most difficult passage for the witch, relying on control over the enemies, and for the knight, who is generally on the run – every faction in the world of Sands of Salzaar has a warrant for his arrest, he is pursued from the very beginning, and he cannot calmly, like the rest heroes visiting cities.

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All as a choice.

Each character, as I said, has his own past behind him – a line of a personal quest is connected with this. For example, a shaman (or shaman), who travels with animals and is able to turn himself into a wolf, then into a spider, then into an eagle, is trying to remember his past, where he was the leader of the Black Legion and fought the curse that killed many of his associates. (or rather turned them into monsters). And the witch, who ran away from her teacher and was declared a traitor, wants to become the strongest of her kind and is looking for a worthy opponent.

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You choose the name of the character yourself, so my eastern shaman from the desert turned into Katya.

In addition to personal stories, there is a storyline common to all, revolving around a catastrophic war for the world that happened in the past, and another threat in the present – it is about the invasion of fiery demons, ifrits, into this desert. There are important artifacts, dangerous rituals, ancient curses, runaway princesses, gates to another dimension, and everything that you yourself know very well from a bunch of similar stories. Nevertheless, many story quests turned out to be quite interesting – for example, you need to travel through flashbacks, see other characters as small, in childhood, experience shocks with them and even fight in memories. In addition, from time to time you have to make important decisions, and it depends on your actions what kind of ending you get.

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There is a lot of text here, but the Russian language is not yet supported. Although thanks for the intelligible English – not all Chinese games can boast of this.

Life is in full swing. In real time

However, in any case, the gameplay itself comes first in Sands of Salzaar. Its basis is the movement of the squad of the main character or heroine on the map, on which there are a lot of interesting things: cities, towns, mines, dungeons, bandit camps, monster lairs, merchants, and so on. Plus robbers, monsters, animals, cultists, rebels who invariably ask you for money, quest characters, monoliths, ruins, statues where you can be blessed or tested by a boss battle. And, of course, all sorts of herbs, ore, wood and other resources are scattered everywhere.

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It’s going to take a lot of travel around the world. Well, at least you can buy a horse, which increases the speed of movement.

And most importantly, life is in full swing on the map – at the same time as you travel on it on business, many other characters with their troops, including even local governors and sultans, caravans rush along the routes, representatives of various factions fight each other, armies besiege cities where you are on a quest. At the bottom of the screen, you constantly see news about what is happening, who made up with whom or, on the contrary, became enemies, where new goods appeared, and so on.

And you can always join this life – try to rob a caravan, attack a squad of a local merchant or join the battle, taking one of the sides.

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Here we accidentally met the Sultan with his retinue. Attack?

Although you can just chat, find out news and rumors, ask for help or offer your own. In cities, you are allowed to hire warriors to your squad, trade, craft consumables, take part in fist fights, take a quest from a local leader. Finally, just visit the tavern, flirt with the waitress and have a drink, putting down for your entire army. You can also meet other heroes there and try to make friends with them by inviting them to your squad. To do this, you need to either give them a gift (and everyone likes something different), or fulfill their request.

By completing quests for this city, increasing your reputation in it, and having good relations with the faction to which it belongs, you will gain access to the warehouse to store your things there. Moreover, there is an option to become the mayor of the city in order to build mines and garrisons here – this will allow you to expand and train your army and collect resources for free.

Or you can try to attack the settlement by setting up a siege. True, in this case, even if there are few defenders, someone will definitely come to their rescue. To win and capture – that the city, that the bandit camp – you need not just mutuzit enemies, but consistently capture control points.

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And, of course, defeat the next boss.

As a rule, in such cases, AI cannot be trusted to fight, automatically calculating the results of the confrontation – you need to do everything yourself, fighting in real time, making rolls, calling out and using the character’s class skills. At the same time, the rest of the units and heroes of your army fight shoulder to shoulder with you, but are under the control of AI.

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The battles are massive.

We not only fight, but we also move around the map in real time. And in real time, your fighters consume food – you regularly have to buy provisions or collect them on the map.

There are five resources in total – gold, wood, iron, jade and provisions. And a lot of this goes to hiring and pumping units. Each unit has several development options. At first, we pay for it only in coins, and then we have to allocate much rarer wood and iron – resource sources that produce them constantly and at optimal times come across very rarely, and even those are captured and transferred under their jurisdiction, as, for example, in Heroes, you can’t. The already mentioned option is provided to build something in the cities, but it will take a long time before the happy moment when you earn this right.

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The usual militia smoothly turns into an advanced cavalry of the seventh level.

Given that your army can have more than a dozen different units, a constant grind of resources to feed and upgrade them is inevitable. But the heroes traveling with your main character, and he himself are upgraded for free – at new levels we learn/improve skills divided into branches and related to class specialization. Plus, the talent system works, reminiscent of the web from Path of Exile – you can see in advance what bonuses you will receive if you follow one path or another.

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To develop talents, you need to collect special fragments and accumulate points.

No grind anywhere

As you can see, Sands of Salzaar is a big and multifaceted game. I didn’t say yet that there is diplomacy here that allows you to make alliances and start wars, as well as a system for building relationships with partners. Another thing is that not everything is implemented equally well at the moment. The same diplomacy and system of relationships so far seems to be needed for show – for example, situations where we need to resolve a conflict between partners, I personally met very rarely.

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Some dungeons only let heroes in – the rest of the squads are waiting outside.

In general, the game is more like an action / RPG in the living world and with the ability to capture cities (that is, with elements, as they say) than some kind of strategy. At least when it comes to story mode. Yes, diplomacy and strategy are a little more important in the sandbox, but this does not fundamentally change the essence. And there is also a multiplayer map, although the network gameplay, according to the developers, is still more experimental. In addition, the activity of the players is weak, and mostly only Chinese servers are available, not international servers.

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What kind of diplomacy? Getting ready for the siege.

The problem is also that sooner or later, for someone more, for someone less dull grind begins, the inevitability of which I have already written. You will definitely come across a situation where it is difficult to go through fights with bosses on the main story and personal tasks – you need to swing. And for this, you have to complete the same random quests issued in cities – escort caravans, deliver goods, collect runaway farmers, destroy bandits hanging around, rescue important people from captivity. Moreover, caravans, as a rule, reach their destination even without us – this is more of a profanity for the grind than a real assignment.

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In rare oases it is very beautiful. And capturing them is very useful.

In fairness, I’ll say that normal, handmade “side effects” also occur. So, you need to determine the fate of the relationship between the blacksmith and his son, who ran away from his home, or listen and experience the tales of a veteran warrior himself.

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Although the action takes place in the desert, the color palette here is diverse.

But still, there are not so many typical quests – they are easier and more profitable to complete. Caravans, as I said, get there without us. Farmers that need to be found and returned, and bandits that must be defeated, will spawn next to the city where the quest was issued for them. Meanwhile, “manual” tasks often involve long movements across the map between regions – unfortunately, there are no teleports and fast travel. Although many quests are limited in time. Well at least, there is a function of automatic movement to the desired city.

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Sometimes the tracker in the log does not give a clear answer where the quest location is and what to do. And sometimes you just have to wait.

Sands of Salzaar has problems, and in some ways it has not yet coped with its own ambitions. But the main thing that continues to develop even after the release is that the authors expand and add mechanics (the same diplomacy and social relations), experiment with multiplayer and constantly announce new additions and improvements scheduled for months ahead. Plus there is mod support. So, if you get bored of grinding in the official campaign, try refreshing your senses with other users’ campaigns. In any case, this is a big, multifaceted and addictive game that combines strategy and RPG. And even if the game is not yet up to the level of Mount & Blade, everything can change.

Pros: interesting characters with their own stories; many different tasks; addictive, multifaceted gameplay with tons of features; living world; the game looks good; music is nice to listen to.

Cons: some mechanics are still unfinished; grind sooner or later begins to tire.

Đánh giá Star
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