Is nothing Sacre...
Nope, can't do it. This is no laughing matter. Deep Silver have dredged up the bones and bits of the Sacred IP, chucked most of them out, and used the remaining pieces to assemble a game bereft of any particularly worthwhile. Sacred 3 bears the Sacred name, but it's something of a shell of a game rather than the open-world, loot-stuffed romp to which fans might be accustomed.
Gone are the expansive environments of previous, "proper" Sacred games. Indeed, Sacred 3 has more in common with Sacred Citadel than its numbered predecessor. Except it's not a side-scrolling beat 'em up designed for couch co-op -- it looks like a top-down, Sacred-esque RPG.
But it isn't.
What we have here is a co-op brawler masquerading as an RPG. It looks like a Sacred game, what with the top-down view, fairly pretty, detailed environments, responsive movements and combat, and actually it's pretty enjoyable for the first hour or so. Sure, it's a little confusing to find that there are only four classes to choose from (five if you pre-ordered), that the levels, though fairly large, are pretty damn linear, and that you can't loot the bodies of your foes, and that there's barely any customisation to be had here. But there's a smoothness to the action and an accessibility to smashing enemies over the head that means anyone can jump into the fray with friends of strangers and start carving people up.
But then, after defeating a fair few waves of enemies, you start to realise that this is all there is. It becomes evident that the game doesn't have a middle ground between easy as pie and hard as balls. The game will routinely pause to keep you rooted in a particular area while idiot goons pour in from all angles, but there's little depth to the combat, the grunts have the collective intelligence of a bag of frozen peas, and this all gets incredibly repetitive. The areas in which you're fighting are pretty enough, and Keen Games certainly know how to present a visually engaging environment, but there's no real incentive or indeed opportunity to explore. The door that's glowing slightly that looks like you can totally go in there and explore turns out to just be window dressing. The open-mouthed cave with the promise of loot inside is just trolling you, with an invisible wall across the entrance.
Streamlining has its perks sometimes, and not every game has to be absurdly complex and deep and utilise every single button on a keyboard or a gamepad. But Sacred 3 doesn't make any sort of effort to go beyond mindless button-mashing. It's not so much that I think Keen Games can't do that, but Sacred 3 is presented with such a cavalier attitude towards its core gameplay that I kind of feel like no-one could be arsed to aim higher.
It all looks good. Battles look fairly intense -- enemies go flying, elemental attacks get hurled around the place, and the screen conjures up scene after scene of chaotic combat -- but it all wears thin pretty quickly. Each character, and I can't really determine much difference between the four classes in terms of base stats, comes with a different set of combat arts, and this is supposedly where things should differ. These combat arts are unlocked through levelling up and dropping cash, but characters can only take two into battle at any given point, and they're dependent on players building up the stamina bars of their characters first. So wading into battle essentially means spamming the regular attacks to kill smaller foes, hoovering up the stamina that they drop, and then further spamming the combat arts until victory. The game never deviates from this pattern, even when it comes to bosses that can kill you in two hits.
The pinnacle of design in this game basically boils down to using your stamina to spin a wheel six times while waves of enemies attempt to stop you.
Sacred 3 is not for solo players. Enemies scale down appropriately, but the whole setup is designed around multiple players, and so some of the multitasking parts of the game become exercises in sheer frustration. When you do manage to jump in with friends, it all becomes more bearable -- multiplayer generally makes everything slightly better -- but I'm still not sure I was having fun, exactly. Keen attempt to inject a sense of humour into the game with some utterly deplorable voice-acting and really bad humour, but it has none of the subtlety in wit that can be seen in, say, the likes of Divinity: Original Sin. There are spirits that can be added to weapons for buffs and such, but they all have such dreadful and obnoxious personalities (the pimp wizard is just the worst) that I left them well alone.
A character in the game just uttered a sentence with the word "amazeballs" in it. I want to claw my eyes out.
Bottom line: if you're looking for an open-world RPG, go and play Divinity: Original Sin instead. If you want an action-RPG to play with friends, get the Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. If you liked Sacred: Citadel and fancy an extended experience in that vein, then there might be something for you here, but again, just play Diablo. Or Torchlight. Or anything else.
- It's pretty
- It's accessible
- It might be fun for some in co-op if mindless button-mashing appeals
- Bad writing
- Worse voice acting
- Repetitive combat
- Only two combat arts at a time
- Meagre customisation
- Pure contempt for solo players
The Short Version: Take no note of the name, it's not an RPG, it's a fairly mindless brawler, and a mediocre one at that.
Platforms: PC (reviewed) | PS3 (tested) | Xbox 360
Developers: Keen Games
Publishers: Deep Silver