Enter the vast, post-apocalyptic desert world of SAND LAND, the latest action-adventure game from Bandai Namco, based on the works of the legendary Akira Toriyama. Released on 25th April 2024, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, and PC, this title takes players on an extraordinary journey through barren landscapes, mysterious ruins and combines a captivating storyline of the original manga and recreates the stunning visuals of Toriyama’s  work with engaging gameplay mechanics.

What is SAND LAND?

“SAND LAND” is originally a manga series created by Akira Toriyama, the renowned Japanese manga artist known for iconic works such as Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump. The manga was first serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 2000. Unlike Toriyama’s longer series, SAND LAND is a short series, spanning only one volume, but it has left a lasting impact due to its unique storyline and distinctive art style.

The story is set in a desolate, drought-ridden world where water is scarce and controlled by a greedy king. It follows the adventures of Beelzebub, the son of the Demon King, and Rao, a retired sheriff, as they embark on a quest to find a legendary water source. The manga explores themes of survival, cooperation, and the fight against oppression, all wrapped in Toriyama’s signature humour and vibrant art.

Building on the cult status of the manga, an anime adaptation has been produced, allowing fans to experience the story through a new medium. The anime adaptation of SAND LAND is now available to stream on Disney+, but on a personal note; if you want to explore the narrative it’s best to go in blind.

Dodge, Attack, Where did my tank go?!

The variety of options available to players is fantastic. You can utilise Beelzebub’s formidable skills to engage in melee combat, bashing enemies’ skulls with powerful attacks. Alternatively, the game allows players to summon an expanding arsenal of vehicles, which can be used to shoot and run down adversaries, adding a strategic layer to combat.

While the choice between hand-to-hand combat and vehicle-based warfare adds an element of flexibility, the game tends to emphasise vehicle use. This is because vehicles offer a greater depth of customization and strategic potential. Players can modify the appearance and functionality of their vehicles, upgrading components to increase damage output and enhance performance. This customization makes vehicle combat more engaging and allows for a personalised approach to battles.

In melee combat, unless players are forced into scenarios that require one-on-one fighting, they might find themselves defaulting to summoning their tank. The melee combat, while functional, can sometimes feel a bit lacklustre compared to the dynamic vehicle battles. This could be due to the comparison with other works by Akira Toriyama, such as “Dragon Ball,” where hand-to-hand combat is more central and elaborately depicted.

On a personal note, this comparison might contribute to the perception of melee combat in SAND LAND feeling somewhat bland. Beelzebub, as a character, is strong and hot-headed, capable of holding his own in a fight. However, the game’s mechanics and pacing often make vehicle combat the more appealing option, overshadowing the potential of melee encounters.

There are some forced stealth sections in the game, they’re not overly difficult but they do feel like they’re tacked on. While infiltrating a handful of locations, you’ll find that you need to sneak around, and take enemies out who are on a fixed patrol route. They’re not engaging, and it feels like it changes the pace of the overall game – thankfully, they’re far and few between. 

Visually impressive, Toryiama’s style lives on

Though the setting may unfold amidst the vast expanse of the desert, one cannot help but be captivated by the sheer beauty with which both characters and environments are portrayed. Remaining steadfast to Toriyama’s iconic style, the visuals exude a charm that is as enchanting as it is familiar. Yet, this delightful aesthetic comes as little surprise, given the numerous adaptations of Toriyama’s work into games over the past decade.

Among the cast, Beelzebub emerges as a particularly compelling character. His portrayal is striking, offering depth and complexity that make him a standout presence. Whether in gameplay or in interactions with others, Beelzebub’s character adds a significant dimension to the experience, making every encounter with him engaging and memorable.

The characters are brought to life with superb voice acting, with the actors reprising their roles from the anime. While the main cast delivers their performances brilliantly, effectively conveying the essence of the story, some of the incidental dialogue during travel can feel repetitive and tiresome. However, amidst these moments, one line stood out and lingered in my memory even after completing the game: “We could get up there if we had a bot who could jump,” or a variation of this line…


SAND LAND offers a unique experience that draws from Akira Toriyama’s iconic manga series. Set in a desolate world plagued by drought and oppression, the game follows the adventures of Beelzebub and Rao as they seek a legendary water source. While the game excels in its visually impressive portrayal of Toriyama’s signature style and the compelling characterisation of Beelzebub, it does have its drawbacks.

The gameplay offers a fantastic variety of options, with players able to engage in both melee combat and vehicle-based warfare. However, the emphasis on vehicle combat may leave melee encounters feeling somewhat lacklustre in comparison. Forced stealth sections feel tacked on and disrupt the overall pace of the game, though they are infrequent.

Despite these flaws, the game shines in its portrayal of Toriyama’s vibrant characters and world. With superb voice acting and engaging storytelling, SAND LAND offers an immersive experience that will resonate with fans of the manga and newcomers alike.