Desert-roaming action-RPG Sands Of Salzaar has made a splash among Chinese players since its launch into Steam Early Access last week. It's an interesting hybrid of Dynasty Warriors mobicide and a free-roaming light strategy RPG.
Its success has prompted the developers to declare an English translation "one of our top priorities, and we aim to add it to the game ASAP". I've stumbled through it for a while like a monoglot oaf and have some thoughts.
Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in. Blasted obscure game devs, with their talent and their ideas and their hard work. I hate them all.
The trailer is frankly not the best, but I'm happy to report that even blundering about with no idea what I'm doing, Sands Of Salzaar feels really promising. It looks nice, and movement and slashing are quite satisfying thanks to the animation. I quickly made an appealing character, gave her some of its many special abilities, and sent her out to suffer for my ignorance. I didn't realise I had a sword for several fights. Still punched one guy to death, although judging by his broken chains I fear he may have been an escaped slave? Oops. I'm a good person, just not in Chinese.
I may have spent most of my battle time fleeing from crowds of horsemen or challenging a boss and getting instantly pasted, but I expect a translation will prevent me from getting into that kind of mess. And I like that you're free to run off and do your own thing pretty much immediately. Somehow I volunteered myself to represent a village in a two-way warfare mode, where two armies fight to occupy one another's bases. This was probably not a smart thing to do without recruiting an army first. At least it didn't punish me with a tedious spell in prison like Mount & Blade.
Diablikes are common enough, but between its sandboxy, strategic feel and larger scale skirmishes, I'm really looking forward to finding out what this one can do. More educated readers than I can get stuck in right now, but I stress again, it will remain entirely in Chinese until Han-Squirrel Studio complete an English translation, which they estimate will come "in the next few months". The full release is pencilled in for some time in 2021.
As a stopgap, they've thoughtfully provided a temporary translation of the most common menu commands on its Steam forum.
Sands Of Salzaar is available now in Steam Early Access, temporarily reduced by 15% to £9.68/$12.74/€10.61 until Thursday the 16th of January.