Sands of Destruction is collaboration between SEGA and now defunct gaming company Imagepooch. It is a JRPG game for the DS released 2 years in the west after it was originally released in Japan. The game was worked on by many developers from Xenogears, Drakengard, Grandia, and Etrian Odesyy.
The story is about a young man named Kyrie who has the power to destroy the world. He works as a chef with his uncle living a relatively peaceful life until he is captured by the ferals, beastly creatures, to be their slave. Soon after Kyrie’ capture, a mysterious power was unleashed destroying a manor and its owner, a feral noble. Kyrie was blamed and imprisoned and he escapes during a break out. Shortly after, Kyrie joins a resistance group, people who want to destroy the world as it exists with humans enslaved by beasts.
The Feral Salvation Committee is in charge of the world. The world lacks any human moral component and its physical state is deemed to be beyond repair. This leads to a rebellion where humans are planning to destroy the world in retaliation for slavery. Kyrie encounters a mysterious woman working with the human resistance in order to stop the beast. They team up together with other people intent on overthrowing their masters. The resistance later learn that there is an even greater evil than the beasts.
The pixelated graphics were good and the background and art style was fairly detailed. The user interface and controls were straightforward and a lot like the jrpgs Square Enix has made on the DS systems.
You have 3 party members at a time like in Chrono Trigger and you are able to choose them at any time. You can select which enemy you want to target and choose multiple different commands. Each class has its own special abilities and equipment that they can use. You can upgrade certain equipment by visiting blacksmiths once you find the right materials. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
You and your party members have a certain number of battle points which refers to the amount of turns you have with commands. You are graded based on how well you did in combat and the higher the grade the more experience points and money you will earn. The more fights you win the quicker you can level up.
Holding down the r button allows you to escape combat in most situations.
The combat is turn based like Final Fantasy but with additional fighting game elements in it such as combos and special attacks. It utilizes both screens just like many JRPGS for the DS. You can select which enemy you would like to target and you can also have attacks for both air and ground based depending on the type of enemy you are fighting. As you launch a string of attacks, you are able to use special abilities to inflict massive damage to enemies. Special Abilities are summoned through quick time events where you have to press a certain combination and depending on how quick and perfect you are, the greater the damage to enemies. You can exploit enemy weakness and also perform status ailments to them but they can also do the same to you as well.
Puzzle solving is another aspect of the game where you have to press buttons or hold buttons in certain combinations to solve puzzles. You can heal before bossfights at any given time similar to Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 4 Remake.
The map system is similar to Chrono Trigger where as you explore, the map becomes more complete. Each dungeon had its own unique design.
The original story was a lot more mature and a lot more interesting than what was presented here. This was due to executive meddling just to appeal to more mainstream audiences instead of just doing something that’s original and different from what other JRPGS are creating. It was a lot darker and it was not afraid to explore the darker aspects of the beasts such as cannibalism and brutal mass murder.
Voice acting was a bit hit or miss and the dialogue was cheesy at times. The characters, both heroes and villains are stock type and not that complex in terms of personality and they were all very uninteresting and very cliched. Character development as well is not much and only happens during the later middle parts of the game where things are starting to become clearer.
The pacing of the game was a bit slow and filler just distracts from the main plot of the game. It is a fairly long game and there are multiple side quests you can partake as well. Loading times were pretty quick.
The musical score and audio were decent enough. The CGI cutscenes are fairly good and reminiscent of the CGI cutscenes of Square Enix DS games. The animation was pixelated and serviceable but the cutscenes felt stiff.
Quips are fully voiced phrases characters can say in combat and they provide various benefits ranging from bonus health to magic points. You can choose up to 4 quips at a time for each party member. You can visit multiple different towns and go to shops to purchase items and visit inns to rest as you progress through the game.
The game has some downsides. There isn’t a new game plus mode in case you want to play through the game again with the progress you have carried over. The random difficulty spike is a problem shared with games like Resonance Of Fate and Infinite Space. Some enemies can be overpowered or damage sponges taking up multiple hits. Other enemies can be defeated quickly with little effort. Button mashing is pretty common in this game and this makes combat to be very tedious. Sometimes you can press just one button all the time and the enemies can be defeated easily. The plot and quest systems were formulaic and predictable.
The dungeon design was not that great and it can be tedious to explore and backtrack frequently.
Sands of Destruction was not a memorable experience and the story seems wasted. A lot more could have been down with the humans being enslaved by other creatures for a change.
It gets 3 stars out of 5.
The original concept was wasted and there as a feel of sameness to other Square Enix JRPG games. If you do enjoy JRPG games you could find some value of Entertaiment in it. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are part of the furry subculture. There is even an anime adaptation of this game so if you are interested you can watch it.