I'm a sucker for gods meddling in the lives of mere mortals. Star Trek: The Next Generation asks "what if god got bored?" and posits Q as the answer, while Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin asks "what if god was really shit at their job?" and serves up protagonist Sakuna as the answer.
If you've ever felt imposter syndrome while doing your job, rest assured that Sakuna will make you feel like the most capable person on the planet. The small god lazes around day in and day out, arguing with her servant-creature Tama and generally getting up to no good in the realm of gods. But then a group of mortals somehow make their way to heaven and burn up all the food, so the big overlord god decides that Sakuna's a bit of a pain in the ass, and banishes her down to Earth along with the humans.
So what's a god to do in the mortal realm? Turns out the answer is farming, and a lot of it at that. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is part farming sim, part 2D action adventure game. As Sakuna, you'll spend your days reluctantly tending to the cozy farmstead, tilling the land, planting seeds, and picking weeds, before venturing out into the surrounding land of demons to slay monsters and put their remains to use on the farm as a creative source of fertilizer.
Sakuna really loves delving into the minuche of farming, though. No task is too small nor too laborious for the player to undertake, so you're accompanying the rice you grow on its entire journey, from planting to plating up. First you'll need to till the land, then plant your crops, and make sure they're given the correct amounts of water and fertilizer before they're ready for picking. Much to Sakuna's chagrin, the work doesn't end there, because it's also your job to dry the rice, before finally plucking it and presenting it for meals with your companions.
All these actions are done through slightly monotonous button presses and analog stick movements, and it's Sakuna's very deliberate way of showing you how much love and effort needs to be put into farming for it to flourish. Sakuna wants to challenge the way we think about rice, and perhaps food at large: I think we're prone to taking food, especially organic food, for granted, forgetting about all the human labor put into getting crops from seedlings to our plates. Sakuna's journey is one of rediscovering how hard it is to make a living off the land, and how much care and attention growing food demands.
I've absolutely adored my time with Sakuna so far. The group of humans our reluctant god is shackled to are a bit useless, so it's up to Sakuna to pick up the pace and slave over the farmstead. I really like that Sakuna is so unashamed in showing the rice's full journey from grain to gourmet food and making you laboriously guide it through each step. I love a story or game that can make me think about something from a different perspective, and Sakuna has absolutely achieved that with a simple grain of rice.