Sands of Salzaar Gameplay Preview – Action Adventure Sandbox RPG

In this Sands of Salzaar Gameplay Preview – Action Adventure Sandbox RPG article, we’re going to discuss the different classes, gameplay features, combat style, and siege system of the new Sandbox RPG developed by Han-Squirrel Studio and published by XD. Sands of Salzaar has recently come out of Early Access via Steam this December 16, 2021, and is now fully launched.

This is a sponsored post. Please note sponsored posts are only sponsoring coverage, our opinions on the game are our own and not affected by any business relationships with developers or publishers.

Sands of Salzaar Gameplay Preview – Action Adventure Sandbox RPG

  • Name: Sands of Salzaar
  • Platforms: PC (Steam)
  • Developer: Han-Squirrel Studio
  • Publisher: XD
  • Release Date: December 16, 2021
  • Genre: Action Adventure Sandbox RPG

What is Sands of Salzaar?

Sands of Salzaar is an Action Adventure Sandbox RPG that’s similar to Mount and Blade in terms of recruiting troops to build your army, siding with factions, and traversing multiple areas of the map to seek resources and pertinent items. You can also initiate sieges in towns to grow in power or even create your very own faction.

When it comes to combat, however, the game is more comparable to Diablo due to its action, fast-paced style where you go head-to-head against leaders and their armies as well as stray beasts and monsters. These encounters are messy at times especially if you haven’t upgraded your heroes’ skills nor equipped high level gear.

Sands of Salzaar Combat Against Monsters

Sands of Salzaar allows you to engage in Story Mode where you’ll be able to make choices to change the outcome of certain plotlines. Once you’ve finished this, you’ll gain access to the Sandbox Mode, which lets you freely explore the world without having to go through the stories anymore. Additionally, the game features 9 classes with a variety of skills, 3 difficulty levels for the campaign, recruitable heroes, troop upgrades, and factions you’ll side with or antagonize. Sands of Salzaar even has a Mod Section for players to come up with their level designs and skill sets.

Sands of Salzaar Overview and Setting

The game is set in Salzaar encompassing 6 areas, some of which have different environments. As an adventurer, your goal is to bring peace to the destruction caused by the rise of the Black Sun. This resulted in the arrival of fiery monsters known as the Ifrit, who began to attack humans. It’ll also be up to you to defend or steal from vulnerable farmers and to fight against hostile nations and tribes since the Old Empire, which used to rule over Salzaar, has collapsed. The alliances you form will make it easier to recruit stronger troops.

Sands of Salzaar Black Sun Cinematic

Furthermore, you have to understand the status of every faction, including the number of territories they govern, the heroes who represent them, and their relationships with remaining cities. These will help you decide the best groups to align yourself with since you can’t please everyone.

In addition to the main and side quests, there are time-limited quests to gain favors from heroes you intend to recruit. For instance, they can ask you to deliver a letter to another village or to retrieve the debt they are owed by someone else. You’ll also encounter character quests based on the class you select at the start.

Sands of Salzaar Nabiha Deliver Letter Quest

Sands of Salzaar’s visual design and snappy animations depict cell-shaded, hand-drawn characters with heavy Asian influence. The colors they’ve used are specifically vibrant, which distinctly pop out of the background, to show distinctive characters. The user interface has also been reworked from Early Access for simplification purposes, and is therefore coherent to the game rather than using placeholders. For example, the skill tree now clearly exhibits the path of each skill when you upgrade them.

Sands of Salzaar Spiritmancer Skill Tree

From the Spiritmancer’s Call Shade Skill, to Shade (+), you’ll notice the health and damage enhancements right away. Although it would also be nice to change the colors of both stats, similar to the other skills, for better readability.

In terms of the audio, the music cycles between peaceful and heavy instrumental beats when you’re traveling from one city to the next. This changes to exhilarating sound effects, which are high in tension, upon the start of every combat encounter as the game anticipates what’s about to happen. Even if the overall audio is good, it can become tedious to listen to after a while since the soundtrack is somewhat limited.

Sands of Salzaar Gameplay Mechanics and Combat

Classes

At the beginning of Sands of Salzaar’s Story Mode, you’ll be asked to choose from 9 unique classes, namely, the Spiritmancer, Spirit Witch, Jackal, Shaman, Knight-Errant, Berserker, Sentinel, Sultan and The Nameless.

Sands of Salzaar Spiritmancer, Spirit Witch, Jackal, Shaman, Knigh-Errant Classes

Spiritmancer

The Spiritmancer is the best beginner class since you automatically begin the game with a companion, so you won’t need to complete a lot of quests to recruit a single hero. You’ll also be able to conjure balls of energy to deal massive AoE damage and summon shadows to aid you in combat.

Sands of Salzaar Spiritmancer Exploring the Map

Spirit Witch

The Spirit Witch has 3 Wisdom Crystals at their disposal to gain extra skill points right from the get go. If you want to manipulate the battlefield by disorienting and controlling enemies to your advantage, then this class is for you.

Jackal

Unlike the previous two classes, the Jackal is not magically-inclined. Instead, he’s a rogue-like character, skilled in the shadows. Jackals can stealthily set up traps and knock down targets while earning Utar or the game’s currency. If you select this class, you’ll start with two Bounty Hunter troops who possess similar qualities.

Shaman

The Shaman are akin to Druids in that they have the ability to shapeshift into multiple beasts and even conjure certain draconic powers. As such, you have a close bond towards creatures of the forest, enabling you to properly communicate with them. You begin the game with wolves who are eager to assist you in your travels.

Knight-Errant

Knight-Errants are excellent swordmasters who steal from the rich to avenge the poor, making you a wanted criminal. This means that you’re vulnerable to frequently getting ambushed so you have to stealthily navigate every village with caution. Moreover, you start with 3 Wisdom Crystals like the Spirit Witch.

Sands of Salzaar Knight-Errant Class Description

Berserker

Berserkers are more versatile in the frontline compared to Knight-Errants because of their melee weapon proficiency and heightened defenses. Even if you don’t gain any advantage at the start, you perform well in brawls, often tipping the scales in your favor.

Sentinel

Sentinels have a balanced understanding of inflicting physical and magic damage using their divine sword. With this class, you’re able to boost your squad’s resilience and reduce the damage you receive. Crossbowmen will accompany you right from the very beginning.

Sultan

Sultans harness their knowledge of ancient machinery to enhance the squad’s gear. They’re adept at building structures to recruit and train more troops, defending their stronghold, and establishing good relationships with neighboring cities. Despite being a Sultan, you may still end up ruffling some feathers so you must prepare for the arrival of invaders, who are hoping to take what’s rightfully yours.

The Nameless

Unlike the rest of the 8 classes, The Nameless only becomes available after your first playthrough. This is the most challenging class to play since they’re vilified by all communities for being an outcast. As such, you can be easily arrested. The advantage of becoming The Nameless is you’re able to mix and match skills from different classes, making you a hybrid character.

Sands of Salzaar The Nameless Class Description

Legacy Points, Skills, and Talents

After selecting a class and customizing your character’s appearance, you’ll be able to pick bonus skills on top of the ones that already come with your class, special items like extra resources, heroes, and in-game modifiers. Each of these cost Legacy Points, which you’ll reap by completing specific achievements. For instance, you receive 1 Legacy Point every time your main character’s level increases by two and you acquire more points when you clear dungeons. This is a good system that rewards you for your accomplishments while letting you alter modifiers (such as being favored by the Thur Nation) in succeeding playthroughs.

Sands of Salzaar Legacy Points User Interface

Upon leveling up, you gain 1 skill point to improve your skills. You have the class-specific, brawl-focused, and legacy trees, which you’ve chosen in character creation. I highly recommend selecting AoE skills since most encounters involve group fights. These will allow you to destabilize and weaken chunks of enemies, thereby efficiently defeating them. In total, you’ll be able to allocate 20 skill points since the max level in the game is 20.

For companions, their skills are divided differently depending on who the hero is. So if you were to become a Spiritmancer, you’ll be accompanied by Zeynep. She has the Skirmish and Traveler’s Swordplay skill sets to reduce the effectiveness of enemy attacks and to poison them as well. In my playthrough, I recruited Nabiha who also has the Skirmish Skill Tree together with Fire Arcana to deal massive fire damage against multiple targets.

Sands of Salzaar Zeynep Traveler's Swordplay Skill Tree

Last but not the least are talents, consisting of perks to enhance the maximum number of squads you’re able to recruit, improve charisma, and reduce the injury rate of your army after combat. You’ll be able to gain these points when you level up and obtain talent shards from red rocks in Salzaar.

Sands of Salzaar Talents for the Spiritmancer

Resource Management

In Sands of Salzaar, you’ll need to carefully manage 5 resources, particularly the Utar, wood, ironstone, jade and food. By exploring each section of the map, you can acquire the majority of them laying on the ground except for Jade, which is quite rare. So you’ll have to take as many quests as possible to continually accumulate resources at earlier levels. These include dungeon exploration and clearing, defeating bandits like the Desert Brotherhood, and successfully engaging in tavern brawls, tournaments, and heroic statue events. You’ll also need to purchase Trade Permits in order to perform business transactions with merchants in towns you don’t have ownership of.

Sands of Salzaar Trading with a Merchant

Resources are highly valuable because they let you repair equipment, recruit more troops, promote and upgrade their abilities, and prevent them from dying due to hunger. If you decide to own a faction, you’ll need resources to construct buildings such as towers and medical stations.

Recruiting Heroes and Troops

When it comes to recruiting heroes, you initially have to complete a series of time-limited quests for them to consider joining your squad. You can’t outright enlist them since you’re not yet highly regarded in Salzaar. When you complete quests, your reputation improves, thereby making recruitment easier and faster to do since heroes will most likely join you without needing to fulfill additional quests. Afterward, you should give gifts to further improve your relationships with them. This allows you to prevent them from initiating fights, for example.

Sands of Salzaar Troop Promotion Upgrades

Meanwhile, finishing village quests enhances your reputation with nations and tribes. As a result, you can earn noble titles and recruit stronger squad members.

Combat and Difficulty

In Sands of Salzaar, combat follows the same style when it comes to overthrowing regimes and attacking hostile NPCs with your entire squad of heroes and troops. You’ll be able to command them in groups so they can attack, defend your position, or follow you to recover momentarily. Winning rewards you with resources and better gear such as magic jewels to enhance the abilities of your troops. Furthermore, you can choose to manually or automatically engage in some of them to save time, especially if your army is big enough to be victorious.

Sands of Salzaar Tournament Combat

Combat is chaotic yet exciting since there’s a lot of fast-paced action going on. Bandits attack from all directions so your main character has to often switch positions to avoid death. If enemies have bigger and more powerful squads relative to yours, then you’ll most likely lose. These are the two essential factors to consider since you won’t win with just one or the other.

The difficulty spikes in the game are arbitrary so it’s tough to gauge whether or not you’ll fall at the hands of your enemies in the next encounter even if you’ve easily beaten them a couple of times in the past. Like you, some of them are also growing in number. Additionally, combat can feels repetitive at times, because the skills you have don’t feel as important as they should be. You’ll resort to spamming them until their cooldown starts, only to spam them once again. There’s no other mechanic like optimal positioning to gain advantage in order to sustain the excitement of every encounter, which is something I hope they’ll consider adding in the future.

Sands of Salzaar Combat Against the Alpine Guerilla

Sands of Salzaar has 3 difficulty levels in Story Mode, namely Normal, Hard and Epic. Normal is definitely recommended for beginners to fully understand the gameplay before trying other runs in higher difficulty. Meanwhile, Epic is suggested for those who wish to immensely challenge themselves versus smarter enemy AIs and tougher factions.

Creating Your Own Faction

If you’ve been rapidly growing your squad, you can declare sieges against towns to ultimately become the city ruler. Sieges are larger fights consisting of more than 50 squad members, making it much more chaotic than regular encounters. Your goal is to occupy every identified location while pushing and eliminating waves of opponents defending their forts. What makes it more challenging is the almost instant respawn rate of enemy heroes, which can quickly change the battle’s outcome.

Sands of Salzaar Successful Siege Against a Town

As an official town leader, you’ll be able to recruit more troops on the fly, construct buildings such as Logging Cabins to gain a steady supply of wood, and create and govern your faction as you please.

Sands of Salzaar Final Thoughts

Sands of Salzaar has interesting gameplay mechanics in terms of recruiting heroes and troops, accumulating Legacy Points to modify next runs, and governing factions. It has a lot of nuances, which you’ll need to discover for yourself since not everything is mentioned in the tutorials. However, I hope the skills will be emphasized further in combat which would improve the overall experience of the encounters themselves. In terms of performance issues, I did encounter a few framedrops, but nothing major.

Sands of Salzaar Thur Favor In-Game Modifier Under Legacy Selection

If you’ve been looking for an action adventure sandbox RPG, which features a great selection of classes, visually pleasant 2D art style, and intricate diplomacy and favor systems, then consider purchasing Sands of Salzaar on Steam for only 14.99 USD. You can use the link below to support the channel!


If you’ve played Sands of Salzaar in Early Access, what changes are you looking forward to in the full release? If you haven’t, will you be playing the game soon? Let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our recent previews Mortal Online 2 – A Hardcore Sandbox MMORPG (January 2022) and Thymesia – A Bloodborne-Like Action RPG Coming Next Year (2022).

Avatar

Writer at Fextralife. I enjoy playing RPGs, narrative-driven games, and platformers. Outside of gaming, I like watching meaningful movies and reading sci-fi and dystopian books.

View my other posts

Log in to leave a Comment