Sands of Aura – PC (Steam) Review

Sands of Aura by developer Chashu Entertainment and publisher FreedomGamesPC (Steam) review written by Valerie with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Presses play on Steam library screen to fire up Sands of Aura. Now I’ve been told it’s a souls-like, but when I read the description on the Steam store page it said RPG action adventure. I love RPG action adventures or ARPGs as I’m told by my peers! I’m also a puzzle, sandbox, open world, and story-driven gamer.

Hmmmm, so, souls-like combat then? All I could remember about souls-like from editing here and asking around was that you die. You die a LOT! But, I felt up to this challenge because I liked the fact that I could use each return to practice my attacks and setting up my key binds. I also like the quests as they popped up, but I didn’t like going through all those monsters again after dying. Ah well, live and learn is what this game is teaching me.

The first screen I encountered was the character creation screen. I was able to access various renditions of face, body, skin, hair, beard, and weapon. After that was the cinematic of what happened to the world and what I’m to do. The story of this game, and I quote:

“A ruinous cataclysm unleashed by a tormented god descended the world of Talamhel into perpetual night. The hourglass of time was shattered and its essence poured across the land, creating an endless sea of sand. The once-flourishing world of Talamhel became a putrid lesion of its former glory and those who called it home are now husks of corruption--violent, undying, unyielding soldiers of death.”

Accessing the user interface, or UI, is brought up with the TAB key. Handy, as I am used to that in a few of the other RPG games I play. There are buttons at the top to switch to your spells, talismans, quests, map, and settings. In this same screen you will find your character stats, gear and inventory. The map is where one is supposed to be able to set a waypoint. Can’t wait to try that feature out! The attention to detail even down to graphics of items in the inventory is top notch and definitely unique to Sands of Aura. And like most RPG games on PC you have the standard movement of WSAD as well as the spacebar for jumping (my nemesis when it came to saving my ass in combat) more on that later.

The setting in the main rest area is of a temple complete with bells. Bells sound through the awesome music that plays as you complete an event and in the background in each area of the temple as you progress through Sands of Aura.

Resonance bells are part of the Rest feature and healing. You carry 3 bells with you to heal and you can pick some more up to replenish your stock. But as is the case with me and dying a lot, I go through them fast and have to go through all those monsters again to progress. We are in a temple, and temples usually have bells to signal time and events.

The tutorial of this game is different, to say the least. When I hit a sparkling circle on the floor as I ran through, I pressed the indicated key to get the information to pop up. Handy when learning the ropes! A pretty visual effect and visible from a distance as I’m one of those who likes to see far ahead. This is a third person view game where you can zoom in and out as well as adjust the horizon that you can view. Like V Rising though, I couldn’t get a direct view of the horizon up to the sky.

So, onward! First quest is to find something to open the area where I encountered the first boss. Man was he a big one! Going through the first area to find it though, I engaged two types of monsters. One melee and the other ranged in their attacks. Here’s where I discovered I hadn’t ‘tuned’ my attacks. Now, how do I do that? I needed a spell which I received from a book I found on the way through. That came about from the tutorial where it said that the spell would activate spellblade effects of my weapon. Fire. I was given fire from the list of lightning, frost, temporal or simple martial effects.

Now for the monsters and combat. I chose a double-sword glaive as swinging this weapon gave me a better reach. Here’s where the souls-like came in. Three healing bells to clear the first area and find stuff. So I managed to swing, swing, swing, was swiped by the monster, and a last swing and Yay! I downed him! Next was two of the same monster type and here’s my first dying attempt because I was already down to half health when I got to them. I didn’t think I would need to heal as yet. How wrong I was to think that! Poof! And transported back to the rest and heal spot where I met my mentor Knight Lawrence.

Did I mention I suck at dodge and parry? Whelp, ya. I do. When I practiced the dodging I had trouble managing to hit the shift key while pressing A or D to move left or right. Yes, as the title states, PC review. So, keyboard and mouse gamer. I suck worse with a controller! My only problem I have is with the dodging.

I was hoping when I checked the key binds again that there was a double-tap of the direction keys because I am well used to that in Guild Wars 2. Sad face. Nope, no double-tap. So, for laughter’s sake for all you readers, every time I go to hit the shift key I press the spacebar instead! I think my fingers aren’t following my brain too well! LOL! This is very much directional combat where you have to think about which direction you are facing. I found out later that all I needed to do was tap the key! Man did I laugh at myself for the many times I died until I had just tapped the key in the first boss fight and zipped away! This game is heaps of fun and I can only laugh at myself from the mistakes I am learning from.

Yes! I made it to the first boss and promptly got my ass kicked, even after learning the cool parry which puts a bubble shield around you. That shield also cracks and breaks from the monsters attacking it. So, one sequence I have attempted is to run up hit, immediate parry and then dodge to come in for another hit from the other side. Yep, I’m still learning this as I was hit with a fire blast as I had just turned to go at the boss from the opposite side. Man did I laugh myself silly!

This game is proving to be one of my top ten with the wonderful voice actors that lend to the game play rather than take away from. The music and sound effects are spot on and resonate with the atmosphere and story of this open world action adventure. I love how I am to find stuff and the chests in this game have not disappointed me. There is a mystery to solve in Sands of Aura and a world to explore to solve it!

I am decked out as best I can. I have runes on my armor and I have my spellblade effect of fire within my double-sworded glaive (by the way, the label on this weapon says dual sword, but in the description it says glaive) to fight my way through. Glint is the currency in this game and I’m already racking it up. My stamina bar gets replenished as I kill the monsters so I am good to go exploring. Now I just need to find my sand skiff and I’ll be ready to sail the sea of sands. Sands of Aura is an awesome experience for anyone who likes the soulslike experience in a game. So with all the factors at the ready I give Sands of Aura a nine out of ten! I highly recommend you to go out and buy this game.

Score: 9 / 10