It seems like the term “soulslike” has a bit of a stigma to it. I don’t mean the term itself (though that enjoys its own controversy) but instead the genre. Some games use soulslike mechanics, though they don’t advertise them as such. But then Sands of Aura comes along with a whole different perspective on soulslike—and doesn’t shy from the comparison.
Sands of Aura is an isometric action role-playing game that bills itself as a soulslike. And it’s not wrong: it features combat with depleting stamina, a dodge (dash, not a roll), and death that puts you back at the last checkpoint (a bell, not a bonfire)—among other pedigrees. In Sands of Aura you play as a hero set out on a quest to save the world itself. The land has been bathed in darkness, and the world became a giant desert—its inhabitants corrupted into vicious undead. Your job is to sail across the sands in your hovering sand ship to defeat the corruption in a bid to restore the world. It sounds extremely compelling.
While Sands of Aura is definitely a soulslike, it suffers from being one. I spent a few hours with Sands of Aura before its Early Access release, and I had the impression it has a little ways to go before it meets its developer’s intended vision. Player guidance is lacking, so I often found myself wandering around, wondering what I should be doing. The tutorial has information that is outright wrong, which doesn’t help. And the combat itself, probably the biggest draw, feels like it needs a lot of work before it can feel fun. Swinging a weapon in Sands of Aura feels weightless, and enemies have an almost spongey quality.
Sands of Aura is still in active development, so it definitely has a chance to improve. In fact, Sands of Aura is going to be in development until at least early 2023, according the Early Access information box on its Steam store page. Right now players can play through the “first portion” of Sands of Aura, which includes “a full map to explore, dungeons to clear, side guests to complete, and a whole sea of sand to sail.”
If you’re excited to get into the world of Talamhel and start sailing the sands, Sands of Aura is in Early Access on Steam right now. I found it to be a little rough, however, and look forward to improvements to combat and player guidance which will hopefully be coming.
Sands of Aura is available today on Steam Early Access.
A Steam key was provided to us for this preview.