Review: Sacred 3
It’s hard to avoid the shadow of Diablo when approaching a similar game in the same genre. You can either refer to it as a ‘watered down’ version or an admirable alternative. Sadly this game falls under ‘watered down’. But there is something else poisoning the water too; atrocious humour.
Sacred 3 is a less tactical affair than Diablo, owing a larger debt to hack and slash titles. The combat is more visceral and less deliberate, but not as deep. Your main attack is augmented by special skills, which rely on power bars. Fairly standard stuff really. The skills vary depending on your class; warrior/archer/holy/lancer are, broadly speaking, the options you get. You also get blocking mechanics and enemies whose defenses need to be broken down, but that’s about the sum of it.
Missions are a linear affair with your path being pretty obvious at most times. You might find the odd health chest off to the side here or there but it is pretty much a hand holding exercise as the game makes clear the path of progression.
The plot is the usual; an eclectic band of heroes come together to stop a big bad. Where the game differs in tone is in the puncturing of the serious tone with self aware moments of comedy. It feels like the developers tried to write a comedy game skewed towards their idea of a 13 year old boy’s sense of humour. For example a holy character shouting “Who wants some?!” before sheepishly correcting herself “Ahem, I mean go forward with grace.”
Having a laugh at some of the ingrained absurdities in the genre can be fun, but Sacred 3 does it with a startling lack of wit and is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. After you’ve heard a horny Battlemage spirit shout “Sexy” for the sixteenth time, it starts to feel a wee bit redundant. The need for tee-hee, ha-ha usurping of seriousness also badly fudges the game’s tone. It’s hard to care about a bunch of twerpish characters this self aware, or feel threatened by a villain who switches from levelling cities to comic relief at the drop of a hat.
So the story is stock, the humour falls flat and while the gameplay is solid and workmanlike it’s nothing special. Maybe I’m just not getting it, but what reason is this game giving you to play it? There is an unnecessarily fussy levelling up process for your character, with several different areas to spend points in. Everything on the bog standard genre tick-list is present and mostly correct, but the only surprises Sacred 3 springs on you are unpleasant ones.
Admittedly the cut scenes have a nice comic book style to them and exude a lot more charm than the actual in-game graphics which, while functional, don’t really have any ’ooh’ moments. The music is a straight ahead ‘epic’ game soundtrack, no real surprises on that front either. Again, any tension or drama the score could have cooked up is rendered mute by the tired, trope referencing ‘comedy’.
To sum up
Sacred 3 isn’t a monstrosity, it’s just incredibly bland. The gaming equivalent of grey. On the merits of its gameplay alone the game reaches mediocrity. Throw in the frankly tedious characters and tone and you get a real chore of a game, something to be endured rather than played. You have to really, really be a fan of the genre to appreciate Sacred 3.
Version reviewed: PS3
Sacred 3 is out now on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.