I’ve liked ARPGs since before I even knew the genre existed. The first one I ever played that I remember was Diablo II, and once it immediately hooked me, I started playing other games of that type as soon as I could get my hands on them. Baldur’s Gate, Titan Quest, and eventually I’d find Sacred. Sacred managed to be just unique enough to set itself apart, yet it also never really took itself all that seriously, and was mostly known to be the “b-movie” of ARPG games. Sacred 2 introduced a lot more characters, and some really fun class specific things – such as a special mount for each class. It was fun for awhile, but in order to really finish Sacred 2, you’d need to spend hundreds of hours in Ancaria. With the announcement of Sacred 3 fans of the series were elated to hear that the series wasn’t dead, despite their former team Ascaron Entertainment going under. As development progressed, it was clear that Deep Silver planned to switch up Sacred’s flow and move from an isometric overhead dungeon crawler to an overhead hack-and-slasher, in the vein of Dungeon Siege III, Champions of Norrath, or Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. PC fans went nuts with the change, saying the game wasn’t Sacred, it’s just a game with the name slapped on it.
While I can appreciate the design change for Sacred 3, there’s so little of what made Sacred stand out, that it’s only a sequel by name alone.
Sacred 3 has pretty much nothing in common with Sacred 1 and 2. Sure, there are things that make this game Sacred by nature: The game is still set in Ancaria, and there are still Seraphims. That’s pretty much it though, save a few easter eggs (like the silly text on the tombstones in the graveyard level, which had the Developer names and silly quotes on them in Sacred 2) and the look of the world. The thing is, Sacred was always set in generic areas such as Forest or Desert, so recapturing the feel of the world could almost be done by any fantasy game ever (and in typical Sacred fashion, it’s a pretty game.) Sacred always had a ridiculously generic fantasy story: Creator makes worlds, the Seraphim’s leaders known as the Archangels created their own world, so the Creator banished the Seraphim to that world until they could unite all the races in peace. Eventually there’s a civil war and a whole bunch of other nonsense, plus Elves, Dryads, and Dragons. Sacred 3 is basically like “who cares nerds?” and throws away all of the backstory to introduce Emperor Zane and tells of his nefarious quest to capture a gem that controls the fate of Ancaria — the Heart of Ancaria. Along with his commanders, the atrociously named Karr ‘Tel, Zep’tik, and some other guy who doesn’t have an attempted funny name but looks like a really awful Wolverine knock-off.
While Sacred 1 and 2 had a grand sense of exploration, Sacred 3 is extremely linear and only has 15 actual missions. There are side tasks that will grant you new items (most of which are useless) and the rest will grant you either a larger capacity for items or allow for one to auto regenerate after each mission so you don’t have to buy as many. While there’s a Magic Sentry turret, a big ass bomb, and totems that offer healing and energy regeneration, the only thing you’ll ever really need is the protection aura and health potions in case you die in battle. There’s also absolutely zero reason to ever use a health potion unless you’re reviving yourself, because you revive with full health from a potion but if you use a potion to heal you only get like 75% of your health back. The limited items are not only mostly useless, but they’re a pain to accurately use unless you just stick with the one. Using the right analog stick, you have a dial to choose which active item you’d like to have — similar to Dragon Age Origins, but being in the menu doesn’t pause the action, so it’s more annoying to use than anything else.
Speaking of the action not being paused, this game really suffers from the inability to take a breather. The levels typically take around 15 minutes to complete, and if something comes up and you need to step away for a moment, there’s a good chance you’ll probably die since pressing pause only brings up a menu while the game keeps moving. Not only can you not pause, but there’s a move called a power move which basically allows you to restrain an enemy so your co-op partner can beat on it without retaliation, but if you’re in single player it’s completely worthless because the other enemies will wail on you while you’re struggling to smash the button and fill the power gauge (though, even worse, the enemies finish their intended attack patterns and then stand by idly while you’re engaged, provided you live through their flurry.)
This only further complicates things because while there are five playable characters, all of them (well, my build only had four available) seem to play almost exactly the same. The characters are divided by region, but let’s be more honest — there’s big black guy with a hammer, white chick with angel wings, Asian dude with a bow, and Hispanic half naked chick with a pointy stick. I also don’t understand why if these are renowned heroes from across the realms, why do they all show up looking like they’re homeless adventurers offering to slay baddies for a gold coin or two? The reasoning here is obviously because as you level up, so does your armor and your armor and weapons become far more intricate and ornate. I guess this is to show that you’re a decorated warrior, but it seems pointless as there’s no actual loot (which is a terrible design choice given the game type) so there wouldn’t have been any difference in having them fully decked out and cool looking right off the bat.
It’s not a terrible game, it’s just painfully boring. All of the side missions consist of two possible scenarios: You’ll either be in an arena based area where you clear five waves of enemies, or you’ll be on a mini mission that’s about three segments long and takes about 3-6 minutes to complete. On top of that, you’ll repeat the same few key points over and over: Here’s a wheel, turn it six times and move on. Here’s a shielded guy, use your bash move and then kill him. Here’s a guy doing a move, use your bash to stop it/stop the spell cast/destroy the already cast spell. Here’s an un-harmable enemy, kill the goblins carrying bombs and throw the bombs at him to do damage. There’s no real thought into anything you do, nor are the classes all that different. The melee fighters all feel pretty much the same, and even the archer isn’t all that different since you’ll often be overwhelmed and right in the middle of the action anyway.
The voice acting is also really annoying in Sacred 3. Aria, the main guide is absolutely grating as she’ll constantly yell at you as soon as something is available to do, whether or not you’ve just finished fighting or how far away you are from the objective. For example: You turn a wheel, a wave of enemies come that you must kill, the moment the last one dies, she’s spouting off “HEY WHEELS, REMEMBER THOSE? THEY NEED TURNING OR YOU’RE NEVER GETTING OUT OF HERE!” or something equally inane. I’m fine with announcers being snarky, but shouldn’t you at least give the player a few seconds before you remind them that they’re not doing that thing they were there to do in the first place? I also really, really, really hate the weapon spirit voices. While all but one or two of their abilities are completely worthless, the first one you acquire is probably the biggest offender. The battle mage spirit imbues your attacks with lightning, but he’s constantly spouting off stuff that sounds like Johnny Bravo with brain damage. I actually thought that was my character talking until I switched spirits and no longer heard “SEXY!” or “I’M STILL TURNED ON!”. They tried to be funny, but it’s like listening to a twelve-year-old attempting to do stand up. It’s a fart, pee, or poop joke away from being a middle school playground.
The fact of the matter is, while I love these games, there’s absolutely nothing that stands out to make Sacred 3 unique, special, or really even all that appealing. It’s essentially a downloadable game presented in a retail package. It’s not a $50 game. It’s a $20 game on shelves just to have a physical product out. That’s business, but thankfully it’s priced cheaper to reflect that. In truth, there’s nothing Sacred about this. Sacred 3 is little more than a going-through-the-motions, hack and slash console styled, mission based romp through a fantasy world. Take away Ancaria’s name and the Seraphim’s wings and you could call this game anything you want and it’d be just as effective. If you like these types of games, it’s an adequate experience but there’s very little reason to keep playing once you finish the campaign (which I completed along with all of the side missions on the hardest available difficulty in around 7 hours.) Once you unlock the Deity difficulty, the game is actually somewhat challenging until you hit the recommended level 28, and by level 30 it’s right back to being almost trivial.
Sacred 3 was reviewed on PC via Steam, but is also available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for a recommended MSRP of $49.99. Sacred 3 was provided for review by Deep Silver.
Sacred 3 Review: Ancaria on and on and on
Executions are a neat idea. Characters don't get loot, but do get more visually appealing as you play. It's easy to pick up and play.
It's extremely linear, short, and painfully repetitively boring. No loot, no horses, or anything that made Sacred popular returns. Voice acting is obnoxious and filled with awful humor.