The game plays pretty smooth and the world does feel quite vast off the bat. Gameplay starts off with joining the town alongside a friendly rival builder. When you start off you already have your builders license and you are ready to get started. Your workshop is handed down to you from Mason, the towns previous builder who is retiring. Your workshop is also stationed across the train tracks from the town and you are near the construction building which is helpful for material gathering.
There are different piles on the ground that you can scavenge for materials and parts by hand (holding “E”). As you go through the piles you will find wood, rocks, and other items. The game also has scrap piles such as metal, wood and others that you take to a resource station and break down for parts and materials.
Your inventory does fill up quickly so I immediately suggest working on and making at least two storage boxes right away. You can also buy storage boxes from the general store but they were around $50-60 Goal for me and I would prefer building them myself.
This game is pretty big on recycling and conserving water, which is implemented in a very cool and natural gameplay way. I liked how the controls were designed and I liked having to search around my area creatively for what I needed.
The new characters seem interesting and original. I like the fact that they added some mystery with the wanted outlaw. I really liked that you have a competitor who starts in the town with you but she’s actually nice, unlike the competitor you talk to in Portia. I did notice however that her house looked awesome just starting out while mine left…a lot to be desired. It would be cool to see her house grow overtime verses starting off amazing.
You can tell that Pathea Games put a lot of time into the characters they created. The romance options they give you are actually an attractive bunch to pick from, the construction workers definitely look a little rough, and the Church of Light leader looks very kind.
Building was very similar to Portia with an exception, water is needed to power your machines. Since you are in the desert, water is pretty scarce. Thankfully Sandrock gives you and option to grind for water (10 plant dew gives you 1 water at your worktable) and also gives you an option to buy water. The need for water adds another dynamic to paying attention to your building queues but it is completely manageable. There are new plans and items to find, buy and build.
Sandrock has added an extra element to combat that Portia did not have. The idea of breaking an opponents shield comes into play at Sandrock. You can see how strong this shield is by looking at yellow dots that appear bellow the opponents health bar. Once you break through an opponents shield you are able to do maximum damage. Their shield will regenerate after a few moments. I found this to be an interesting element. Stronger opponents have a stronger shield to break through. You also have multiple options for weapons in Sandrock. I chose daggers for my Sandrock character but you can also use a spear, sword and shield, and a heavy sword. It also looks like you may be able to use firearms as you progress. Dodging is also an ability that you can use to avoid an opponents attack.
Mining is fairly similar to Portia, although you now see metals on the surface that you can pick up, which is pretty cool. Along with getting these metals directly from the surface you can also dig like normal and get metals, sands and various items.
I did not see any artifacts in the ground (like in Portia) but my gameplay was limited and I am looking forward to seeing how the system works for artifacts in the games upcoming release.
As noted above, you will need water for farming, which is a scarce desert resource. Sandrock allows you to stamp straw grids (little sandy soil plots) in your yard and create a way to grow various plants and even trees! You can fertilize, water and harvest them. I really liked the look of this and appreciated that you can plant wherever you have room in your fence instead of using a plotting container. I am looking forward to expanding a section of my yard for the sole purpose of planting a garden there.
Note: When if you replant in the same plot after harvesting, the soil improves over time, yielding better farming.
Fishing is pretty interesting in Sandrock. You can farm Sandfish holes by first building and then throwing a basic Sandfish Trap barrel in the designated sand fishing holes. When a fish (or sometimes other animals) go into the barrel a bell appears and you have to yank the barrel out after following after the fish with it for a few moments. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of animals you can fish out of these fishing holes.
Sandrock has created a unique approach to leveling up your passive and active abilities. You level up your character by getting points from preforming the tasks you want to level (for instance to level gathering, you need to preform gathering activities.) When you open your “Knowledge” page, you can choose from four sections to go into: Gathering, Combat, Workshop, and Social.
Each section has a leveling tree. You can choose where you want to put in your points and work up any tree you want. I thought this was a very cool feature and I am looking forward to creating a character with strengths that are unique to what I enjoy.
I really enjoyed playing this demo and I cannot wait until the game is released. I think that the game ran fairly smooth and there was plenty to do. The demo left me wanting to play more and experience the combat that we are not able to test yet. I’m also looking forward to learning the role of the church further in this game and see what I can do with planting a garden and cooking various foods to help me during my journey.
As this is a demo review the currently released gameplay is limited and subject to change. This review is based off the gameplay I was able to enjoy in the allotted demo time. I was given approval to write this demo review by the Pathea team but my opinion is completely my own.