Update November 22nd 2013: Taka no Sakaru has relocated. My review of the new build is available here.
Every so often you can stumble upon a region quite by chance which immediately captivates you. Whether you’re out shopping in-world or flipping through Destination Guide categories or simply happen to come across an interesting name somewhere, you can never tell when or how it’s going to happen.
Such is the case with my discovery of The Krull Empire. I came across the name entirely by chance and, while I could think of nothing other than the fantasy adventure film Krull which I saw when I was a lot younger than I am now, I felt my curiosity piqued and decided to go take a look. I’m glad I did.
Far from being a fantasy sim, The Krull Empire is home to Taka no Sakura, a Japanese Edo period village created by the Taka no Sakura team led by Misaki Yoko. And it is, in a word, exquisite.
Those who know me know I have a strong affinity with the far east, notably Hong Kong, Singapore and Sri Lanka. While I am no expert in its history or culture, ancient Japan also holds a fascination for me, so it was with a real sense of delight that I set about exploring the region.
The arrival point is to the south of the village itself, with an open market area. From here you can wander into the village – please do be aware that some of the buildings are private homes and respect people’s privacy. At the north end of the village, separated from it by a narrow channel of water spanned by a bridge, is a walled royal household (which I believe is open the to public) and which includes a small, walled flower garden. Alongside the royal house, but outside of its walls is a large pavilion, built out over the water on wooden piers.
Go west from the village, again crossing a channel of water, and you’ll come to formal Zen gardens and beyond them a smaller pavilion again standing over the water, and another formal garden similar in style to one to be found in the royal house grounds. The remainder of the region is landscaped into open spaces which perfectly complement the buildings.
I’m not sure if some of the buildings in the village are intended to be stores – several have that look about them, although they are currently empty. If so, all I can say that they are attractively designed. I’m also not clear on whether the region is intended to be used for role-play; if so, I’d say it’s not set to period, as there is a little boat with an outboard motor available for pootling around the waterways of the region, and the little vending wagon with a wood-burning stove had decidedly un-period setting bicycle wheels and tyres :). These, to me, mean that the village is one which has survived to see modern times.
Whatever the period, this is a fabulous region for anyone who appreciates builds which present an immersive feel and / or who enjoy SL photography. The attention to detail is very good, and the mix of built-up and open areas, together with the considered use of water makes it a pleasant place to simply wander around. The default windlight for the region is Bristol, and I’d venture to say it is perfect for the build. If you have it included in your viewer-side windlights, you can flip over to local windlight and adjust the sun position for a range of lighting options without losing anything of the look and feel of the place in terms of how the Taka no Sakura team intended it to be seen.
To me, this is one of the regions which would really showcase materials. There is already a rich and complementary mix of textures here – wood, plaster, stone – that it is already eye-catching. Add normal an specular maps to some of the surfaces and I can’t help but feel the “wow” factor would be sky-high.
Nevertheless, even without materials, this is a picturesque and balanced region which is well worth the time to visit.