Sacred 3 Review (PC)
It’s a strange thing that sometimes happens. Companies tweak gameplay mechanics and a game goes from being linear to non-linear. Various developers have played around with popular game franchises in the past to see how things would turn out; Namco gave Tekken 3 a beat em up game called Tekken Force and Square Enix turned Kingdom Hearts into a card game for the DS. These experiments are usually tagged onto the “vanilla” versions as an extra, so it is rather refreshing when someone has the confidence to boldly take their franchise in a new direction without a safety net. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, on the trapeze without any harness, I give you Sacred 3!
Sacred 3 is the latest game in the fan favourite Sacred series. Rescued by Deep Silver when Ascaron Entertainment closed down and now developed by Keen games; the series has underwent somewhat of a transformation. Where Sacred 2 was a RPG / dungeon crawler Sacred 3 is a hack and slash game with more similarities to Marvel Ultimate Alliance than Diablo. Players take on the role of one of four heroes who are off to free Ancaria from the evil clutches of Lord Zane. Instead of choosing a race of class and building the character players can choose from four characters complete with their own back stories. The Seraphim are represented by Claire the paladin; Marak is the hammer wielding Safiri warrior; Alithea is the token scantily clad Ancarian lancer and Vajra is the bow wielding Khkuri archer. After selecting your character it’s off to a map detailing all the levels that make up the story of Sacred 3. The levels vary in length from five to forty minutes and provide bite sized chunks of mindless fun and violence. Again, this is a departure from the hundreds of hours of the RPG gameplay Sacred 2 produced but the ten to twelve odd hours of the hacking and slashing of Sacred 3 is rather sufficient.
As alluded to earlier, the gameplay of Sacred 3 is now firmly in the hack and slash category. Players start the game with one normal attack, a dash attack which must be used to disable enemy’s shields, a dodge, and two power attacks which consume energy. You then make your way from the beginning of the level, hacking and slashing your way through countless enemies until you get to the end of level boss. Killing enemies will earn you gold and experience points which are later used to level up existing attacks and unlock new abilities. As the game is combat-heavy there are also plenty of opportunities to replenish health and energy along the way. The similarities here to Marvel Ultimate Alliance (one of my all-time favourite hack and slash games) are fast and furious and make playing Sacred 3 a fun experience.
Keen Games seem to be determined to make Sacred 3 their own in every respect. The game has definitely taken a leaf from the Saints Row series and taken a wander into the silly sector and is not taking itself too seriously. Cheesy dialogue and bad jokes pepper every conversation. Examples of this are the exchanges between the early baddie Kar Tel and your character. These often reference pop culture (“You sank my landing boat” delivered in the Battleship advert style when you destroy said boat) or sometimes are just bad puns. You could argue that this is down to bad writing and voice acting but the tone of the teaser trailers that were released tend to suggest that this is exactly what Keen Games had in mind. The silliness of the characters does tend to fit in with the gameplay style and, to someone who is new to the Sacred series, it delivered a bit of old school fashioned fun.
One of the features being heavily touted for Sacred 3 is the up to four player co-op play. Players can drop in and out of co-op games both online and locally with relative ease. You can also set your privacy setting so that other players can see your game and jump in to help you or you can choose to have an invite only game. The levels that I did sample in online co-op were a lot of fun. When a player joins or leaves your game, Sacred 3 will adjust the difficulty and frequency of enemies according to number of players and skill level. There was no lag or disruption to the game when players were joining and leaving missions halfway through which made meeting new players something to look forward to. Whilst Sacred 3 is a decent enough solo experience, I imagine a four player co-op game with the right group of friends will while away the hours.
On the down side the PC version we reviewed did seem to have minor stability issues. Our favourite of these affected the audio files so that all the dialogue played back at a speed that made everyone sound like a smurf. It was rather funny and was remedied by a restart of our PC. Sadly it was only experienced once. There were a few frame rate and resolution issues that cropped up twice but seem to be resolved by restarting the game. Again these were intermittent and seem to be resolved due to a few patches that have been implemented before the game has released
Right, to get down to the nitty gritty of it, Sacred 3 is not what fans of the series were expecting. Yes, it’s not an RPG with hundreds of hours of gameplay and endless customisation. Yes, shops have been replaced with a simple menu and yes, the game is now a simple hack and slash. But, do you know what? It is a damn good hack and slash game. It delivers everything a good example of the genre should and the silliness just adds to its charm. So where fans of the Sacred series will probably not be blown away by it and should have a think before diving in, newcomers to the series like myself will be pleasantly surprised to find a thoroughly enjoyable hack and slash with a decent multiplayer element. The fact that Sacred 3 is not taking itself too seriously should be a clue we should do the same. Yes, the game isn’t perfect but it’s a lot of fun.
4 hacks and slashes out of 5Sacred 3 Review (PC),