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Preview: Sakuna Really Gets You Thinking About Growing Rice

sakuna of rice and ruin farming

When I took my first steps into Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin’s world, I figured that it would be heavy on fighting and less-so on farming. After all, it kicks off by introducing you to a battle system that encourages fast combos and quickly zipping around the field and behind opponents with her divine raiment. But what I didn’t expect was, well, how much effort it would also put into growing and preparing rice and staying alive.

After being responsible for a destruction of property and humans ending up in a realm where they don’t belong, Sakuna is sent to the demon-infested island where her parents once lived to fight the monsters there, farm, and essentially think about what she’s done. And some of the initial steps involve learning to fight in the gods’ home, fighting through initial demon mobs to reach the new house where she’ll be staying with the aforementioned humans, and visiting a few nearby areas to collect materials and fight some more.

But then, it comes time to plant the first crop in Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin. Suddenly, I was in a position where I was actually searching online to make sure I was getting things right.

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While Tauemon, one of the humans has dreams of being a farmer, he doesn’t have too much knowledge or skill when it comes down to it. Which means Sakuna (and I) were left to our own devices when sowing the first round of seeds. (Turns out I planted them too far apart, according to the summary at the end of the first successful harvest.) From there, you have to water and tend to them, but… Tauemon offered vague hints of how to do this. The weather report constant tells the temperature and season in the menu.

At first the water has to be up to Sakuna’s ankles, but is it really? Then, the recommendation was to allow it to dry after letting it soak. How long do I let it dry? But since it only mentioned a brief drying phase, I better add water again. Oh, and I can’t forget to weed. Since that early maintenance isn’t too intensive, Sakuna would head out into different areas I’d unlocked to fight monsters and collect more conventional food.

But suddenly, the rice was amazingly tall overnight. When I would check it, the stats hadn’t varied much. (Likely because it was the first harvest.) Tauemon said it was time to completely flood the fields, which was easy enough. Except what seemed like a day later, it was time to harvest. Do I drain the fields before I do? Or after? But then probably letting the water out would have been smart, because all my years of playing games like Harvest Moon didn’t prepare me for the intensity of the tasks that would come next.

It turns out the next steps felt a bit like the most harrowing and influential. First, I had to lay the rice out on drying racks. But while I was doing so, Tauemon was warning not to keep it out if it got too cold. It was then that I realized hey, it actually was autumn in-game already and down to 42 degrees out. I was afraid to rush it and bring it in, since Sakuna’s assessments suggested it was still too dry even when it was raining and in the 30s out.

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Once I did get that dryness alert, I quickly headed into the barn to take care of the crop. Which, surprisingly, involve repetitive tasks either Sakuna (you) can perform or assign to another person. Sakuna doing it meant greater control, and the summary at the end even noted what time of day each task was undertaken. Things start with threshing, which gets the panicles at the top of the rice stalk with the actual rice pulled away from the stem and leaves. After that is the hulling, which takes the rice in husks, places them in mortar, and has Sakuna hull the grains to get either brown or white rice. Brown rice is easiest, since it involves going from unhulled rice to brown rice. If continue polishing to remove husks, then you go from 10%, 20%, 30%, and so on hulled until you finally get white rice.

Basically, the first rice planting and harvest in Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin resulted in my being way more invested than I would have expected. Going on, I had some idea that it wouldn’t be the best harvest. Both she and I were learning, after all. But it was interesting how it did get me looking online for actual farming insights to help help me make a good first impression.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin will come to the North American Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 and PC worldwide on November 10, 2020. The Japanese console version will launch on November 12, 2020, with the European ones following on November 20, 2020. 

Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.