Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sacred 3

Back in 2004 I played Sacred and loved it. I have always been into those kinds of games, games that fall in line with the likes of Baldur's Gate, big open isometric worlds, topped off with in-depth combat. Sacred perfectly suited me in that regard, and the series has since gained quite the following. Though Sacred did gain an expansion pack and also a prequel entitled Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, with the demise of its developer in 2009, Ascaron, the future of the series was up in the air. However, publisher Deep Silver saved the franchise from certain doom, and last year released Sacred Citadel. Sadly though, for fans like me who wanted an in-depth RPG set inside a massive, detailed open world... we were a little disappointed to say the least. Sacred Citadel was a side scrolling hack n' slash game, and though it was enjoyable for what it was, it catered to a different type of gamer. On its surface it looks like Sacred 3 is bringing the series back to its old school RPG roots. But looks can be deceiving, as Sacred 3, though enjoyable like Sacred Citadel, is one step forward and two steps back.

Developed by Keen Games and out now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC comes Sacred 3, a fun yet flawed title that shouldn't exactly belong to the Sacred franchise. The story is set roughly 1000 years after the events of the original Sacred, and once again lets the player take control of a band of warriors in a bid to defeat evil. Since the events of Sacred, the peoples of the world ‘Ancaria’ have all but forgotten the Seraphim; guardians of the powerful 'Heart of Ancaria'. But that changes when Lord Zane, ruler of Ancaria, forges an alliance with demons, and is hell bent on opening the gates of the Underworld by using the Heart of Ancaria. With a new group of powerful warriors taking upon themselves the quest to save humanity once more, the fate of the world literally hangs in the balance.

Right from the start Sacred 3 eagerly presents itself as being much more of a simplified and linear experience compared to Sacred 1 & 2. The cast of characters is much smaller here, as Sacred 3 only allows the player to play as 4 warriors, compared to the 8 offered in Sacred. There's Marak the powerful Safiri warrior; Claire the Paladin; Vajra the Khkuri bow and arrow member of the team and finally Alithea, the Arcarian lancer. Each member already has their own personality and back-story, yet despite the very little choice of characters here, they do actually make for quite an interesting and diverse team. Sacred 3 is a hack n' slash game. No longer is the series focused on being a slow, narrative focused RPG that demands time and patience. Instead it's all about fast paced action and high-speed dexterity in place of thoughtfully upgrading your character. 

But that's OK, I guess. I mean, I would have preferred if they dropped the series name Sacred, as this really isn't what Sacred should be, but fine, I can deal with it, mainly because it's actually pretty fun. The player starts off with a few basic attacks at first, which are a normal attack, dodge, a dashing attack and two powerful attacks that will consume energy. However, over the course of the game the player can upgrade their character using gold and experience points, thereby gaining new and more powerful moves. But like I mentioned before, compared to previous Sacred games the player doesn't really need to slave over their character's stats, as in Sacred 3 brute force always wins over a more thoughtful approach. That said, the combat on offer here is fast paced, fun and pretty addictive, especially if you make use of the fantastic 4 player co-op. Playable both online and locally, your friends can jump in and out of gameplay instantly, while the difficulty and enemy numbers alter accordingly as to how many players are present. It's a great addition to gameplay and easily drags Sacred 3 from the realm of disappointment to sheer fun.

Overall Sacred 3 is a mixed bag. On one hand I admire that Keen Games' attempt at replicating the original Sacred titles, from its isometric visuals to very quirky sense of humour. However, what we have here is not the Sacred I loved, but rather somewhat of a dumbed down bastardisation of it. I can live with that though, as the game isn't terrible, even if it is a little linear both narratively and in its gameplay. If you're looking for a fun multi-player title with a few mates, give Sacred 3 a try. If you're looking for an in-depth one-player experience, well, don't expect classic Sacred, but that's OK.

Sacred 3 gets some praise and is bestowed a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Sacred 3 at CeX

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