Sacred 3 review – no nonsense Hack ‘n’ Slashing

Deep Silver’s long running Sacred series enjoys a new member to its fold with the arrival of Sacred 3 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC platforms, but with a shift in focus to a more arcade like experience how well does the game shape up considering fans of the other two games will likely come away feeling a little disappointed. Take a look at our Sacred 3 review for the full picture.

 

 

Sacred 3 review:

Today we’re taking a look at Deep Silver’s latest Sacred game in the perhaps inappropriately titled Sacred 3 which from the offset we’re going to clear up any confusion and state that although the game shares the Sacred name, is in fact an entirely new experience. So for those weaned on the complexities and freedoms of the previous two games should seriously consider leaving the pre-conceived ideas well and truly at the door before even thinking about embarking on this latest offering which makes no bones about it being a streamlined arcade hack ‘n’ slash romp.

To begin, players choose one of four characters for either single or co-op play, with the latter being local or online enabled, the choices range from a burly male warrior with massive breasts, an archer, and two female combatants who use a combination of swords and spears to get the job done. There’s little differences between each class aside from the archer who naturally is better suited at striking enemies at range, the others tend to favour close quarters combat with the ladies being a little more varied than simply being a tank in fine clothing. Once players find their feet with whoever tickles their fancy, they can jump in to a story which sees our warriors hunting for a powerful stone, against a backdrop of impending evil and doom. Whilst well presented via hand drawn images, the story is largely forgettable and not really necessary to understand what’s needs to be done as the onus is on dropping into the levels and simply killing everything that gets in your way. Enemies come in a variety of forms with basic cannon fodder chewing at one’s ankles to more formidable foes such as giant zombies and magic using shamans. There’s quite a decent variety of foes and what’s neat is how players have to dodge or block incoming attacks, and perform shield breaking moves on those carrying better gear or who are more powerful. It certainly works well but is quite basic in its execution and not really requiring too much thought or tactics on default difficulty at least. Upping the challenge simply means being more careful and not wading in to groups of attackers without a care in the world.

The Levels come in a variety of forms and although the story focused areas offer a little more meat, there are a number of optional side missions which grant players extra pieces of useful equipment once completed which prove useful in the heat of the moment – such as health potions, smart bombs and magic sentries to name but a few. The extra missions  focus on surviving waves of increasingly challenging opposition or simply killing everything in an area . There’s little variation here as they serve as mini distractions to gain said equipment upgrades and last a few minutes each. The story missions are a much longer affair and have players moving through varied but linear locations – there’s some very minor deviations to find the odd hidden chest, but the reality is a direct path to one’s goal which usually concludes with a boss fight.

What’s probably most noticeable about the game’s design is the fact that the RPG elements have been severely toned down to suit a less patient audience which results in some simplistic moments of levelling up and customization between missions. Rather than provide an extensive amount of loot to pick up during missions and compare, players simply gain experience, and collect coin from the fallen or any chests. Cash is then spent on upgrading the few weapons, armour and skill moves with extra bonus attributes which effectively keep the game flowing quickly. Naturally, more upgrades become purchasable once players level up their character and gear. It’s simple, lacks depth, but ultimately works well in keeping with the arcade approach the game offers. Anyone looking for a bit more beneath the surface is going to be a little disappointed in this regard.

Aside from the weapons, skills and armour upgrades there are a number of unlockable weapon spirit characters who imbue your equipment with additional abilities. You don’t actually see these characters other than still images between missions, but you do hear them talk often during battle and their effects can benefit players in a number of ways, with some being tailored towards helping other players on your team should you be playing co-op. The spirits can be swapped at any time between missions and much like everything else follow the same levelling up system as players continue playing.

In terms of looks, Sacred 3 boasts some varied locations with good looking visuals which show off neat shadow and lighting effects using  its top down view point – which sadly cannot be zoomed in or out. There’s a good mixture of day and night missions and interior and exterior battle grounds, although as mentioned, everything is self contained and rather than offering open environments, favours a more closed approached. Everything looks well produced and serves its purpose well right down to the character design and overall interface. There’s nothing to really fault in this regard.

Audio is a mixed bag though, and an area which you’ll either love or loathe with a passion, take your pick. On one side, you’ll laugh at some of the most ridiculous comments being made by what seems like a comedy cast of characters who don’t seem to take things seriously, or you’ll grimace with complete disgust at the constant chatter and one liners which unfortunately intrude at every turn.  There’s an option to mute the voices which is fair, and perhaps for some is best, but the unusual dialogue does nothing to help players gel with the story. Aside from the intrusive voice overs, there’s an abundance of expected sound effects and a musical score which serves its purpose.

Sacred 3 isn’t short for an action game and offers plentiful missions to play over and over, although for an RPG is quite brief with the basic game being completed in a weekend’s play. There’s several difficulties to try, with the default normal perhaps being a little too easy for most seasoned gamers. The unlocked bonus difficulty once the game is bested provides a better challenge and really comes into its own if players tackle it below the recommended level.  In this regard, the game does allow progress beyond its suggested recommendations for each stage which is welcome, but prevents players shifting too far ahead with level requirements for some. The local co-op is most welcome and opts to keep players focused on a single screen which means communication is key to avoid preventing movement if players are at opposite sides of the screen. The online co-op fares much better and means players can freely move as they see fit, although enemy difficulty is tailored to suit the increased skill of having up to three additional warriors.

In a nutshell, Sacred 3 is a solid hack and slash game that offers a no nonsense approach that’s easy to pick up and play for those who want to hammer away at few attack buttons and little else for several hours. There’s no menus to wade through or complexity of character progression which means players who thirst for killing can do so without hindrance.  In this regard the game succeeds, but at the same time does become repetitive quite quickly unless you’re well in tune with levelling up your character, or willing to try the others classes to add some variety. As mentioned, if you’re a fan of the previous games that afford more depth and exploration, then you’re going to probably feel a little let down with what’s on offer here as the game is Sacred by name, but certainly not in execution.

Score 7/10 – Review By  Robert Cram

 

 

 

 

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.