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Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom is a Dungeon Crawler with Heart

blacksmith of the sand kingdom

Throughout my history with games if there is one type I will always cling to, it’s the life sim. Regardless of the plot or context, I’m a sucker for games that allow me to live a simple, if not monotonous, life. As a dungeon-crawler and adventure game, Rideon and Kemco’s Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom doesn’t directly fall into that category, but it still managed to scratch the simulation itch I’ve been feeling lately.

The story behind Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom isn’t extremely deep, nor is it incredibly new or revolutionary. The protagonist, Volker, has dreams of becoming an adventurer, but also feels the obligation to honor his father by becoming a renowned blacksmith. The game simply says, “Why not both?” It’s the tried and true story of an ambitious youth with lofty goals, working hard to find success and making friends along the way. It isn’t particularly grabbing, but serves as a decent enough backdrop for the main gameplay elements.

blacksmith of the sand kingdom

Characters are given the same treatment as the plot of the game. While character art and designs are unique and frankly beautiful, I didn’t find myself forming any attachments towards them or their involvement in the story. Once again, it’s all a setpiece that simply allows for gameplay progression. Characters that are introduced serve a purpose; they feed you, heal you, assign guild quests and give small bits of lore from time to time. Despite each one having a backstory, complete with small world building moments and connections to the protagonist, there didn’t seem to be much depth to them.

The game loop is as simple as the narrative, but in that case it works. New mechanics are laid out rather plainly and, despite being introduced to nearly every aspect of the game at once, it was easy to pick up. The central town hub has all the essentials, like a tavern to fill up on food and gain quick levels and an infirmary to restore HP and MP. It has all the routine elements. Dungeons in Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom are large areas broken into smaller areas that you just move through. They contain raw materials as well as mobs that drop items needed for crafting and guild requests. There isn’t much in this area and fights become rather repetitive without much payoff. Dungeons do become more interesting and strategic as new areas are unlocked, but that general feeling from the first dungeon never fades.

blacksmith of the sand kingdom

As for my time in the game, I really took advantage of the item management system. Despite the numerous requests available, I spent a majority of my first few hours in the game exploring the same dungeon to gather materials for my store. While the game never evolves from its original state, I found a lot of joy in the basic routine it sets up. The game didn’t punish me for this either. It took awhile for me to feel pressure to progress in the game but even then my motivation was still to open up new crafting options for the store.

It was surprising to realize just how sweet and heartwarming Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom could be. Somehow ending each day by making gear and tools for the store and watching them all sell out was more immersive than the bits of character dialogue in the game. Whether a play session lasted an hour or five, I had a lot of fun in this game but that was only because I accepted the monotony of the gameplay loop and took my time enjoying the simplicity of it.

Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and mobile devices.

Dani Maddox
Dani is a writer and podcaster from the East Coast who cared about games enough to make a career out of analyzing and playing them. If she isn't waxing poetic about the latest indie release, you can always find her knee-deep in a sleuthing RPG.