The Sacred franchise started as open-world action RPGs, giving players a range of interconnected locations to explore while taking on a range of main story quests and optional side quests. Sacred 2 in particular could be compared to Diablo of Titan’s Quest, providing heated battles and a wide range of loot drops to gather up once the bloodshed was over. With my pack-rat tendencies, the constant need to gather up loot causes such games to come crawling to a halt. I am compelled to find the nearest vendor or teleport back to town to dispense with my spoils. I admit, I have never finished Titan’s Quest, as loot drops coupled with the all too small inventory overwhelmed my ability to enjoy the game. Sacred 3 has opted to remove such lulls by dispensing with loot drops altogether.
This is one of several design choices that has led to Sacred 3 being at odds with the established conventions of the previous Sacred games (excluding the spin-off, Sacred Citadel). The open-world nature of Sacred and Sacred 2 has been replaced in Sacred 3 with a series of individual linear stages. The main and side quests that players would have encountered during their journeys in the previous Sacred games now make up the main objectives of each of these self-contained areas; all of which are linked via a map that acts as a level select screen. Unplayed available areas at an appropriate level are shown in grey, while harder ones are in red.
Another design choice immediately apparent on entering a stage is the lack of mouse based movement. Trying to perform the various actions available to the player felt overly cumbersome when attempting to play with the keyboard. They were far easier to perform with a controller, leaving me to conclude that Sacred 3 has been developed with consoles as the main focus. However, even the control layout for the gamepad could be improved. In particular health potions, totems, and the other power ups are selected with the right analogue stick, but actually used with the directional pad that sits under the left analogue stick. It creates an unnecessary juggling act when needing to use the items in the thick of battle.
There are four character classes immediately available in Sacred 3, with another two unlockable through the purchase of respective DLC packs. For the purpose of this review, I played using the Seraphim Paladin. Like the Safiri Warrior, this is a melee based character. The other two classes, the Khukuri Archer and Ancarian Lancer, cater to range based play styles. Combat primarily focuses on the use of two main attacks, a standard weapon strike and a chargeable bash that can break shield defenses and interrupt enemy casting. Each of the playable character classes also has a limited number of unique special moves, however only two may be assigned at any one time.
Some objects and enemies may also be thrown at the cost of player movement. As a result, throwing is not only rather useless, but it also interrupts the flow of combat. When enough damage is done to an enemy, it is sometimes possible to perform an execute move. These can be chained together, creating one of the more enjoyable elements of battle. It is clear that Sacred 3 is intended to be a co-operative game and several moves are aimed specifically at this style of play. There are also some environmental traps that result in instant death requiring you to replay the section over when playing single player. Unfortunately, due to the low player base I have not been able to play Sacred 3 in a multiplayer environment sufficiently enough to comment.
Regardless of whether the stage is for a main or side mission, there is little variety in the basic structure of the respective levels. Most of the main quests will feature sections where you need to avoid an environmental hazard, such as falling boulders, or fireballs dropping out of the sky. During these areas, the point of impact will be indicated several seconds beforehand, allowing the player to move out of the way. Other times, the player will need to navigate poisonous plants or darkened locations. Alternatively, the operation of a wheel, the charging of a device, or the destruction of specific targets may be required to progress. During these parts, the player will also have to contend with infinitely spawning waves of enemies. It was these latter sequences that I enjoyed the most.
Each main mission ends with a boss fight, introduced in a similar fashion to those in the Borderlands games. That is, with a close-up image of the boss, accompanied by their name and a witty one liner. Most of these are generic oversized foes having similar attack patterns. But some will require you to either attack a structure or defend it. One in particular has you facing off against a ship as it uses flame throwers against you. Another tasks you with guarding a well from a wave of enemies intent on blowing it up. I found the protect X missions irritating as there is no visual indication of the time left making it difficult to determine where to concentrate my efforts.
Side missions are shorter, which is a little disappointing as these can be far more enjoyable than the story levels. In particular the side missions that face the player off against five waves of enemies are a welcome change to the normal format. I would have liked to have seen these at higher character levels requiring you to defeat more waves as I often found five to be too few. Completing the majority of these missions will either unlock a new item, increase the number you can hold, or increase the amount that will be auto replenished before the next level.
While there are no traditional weapon and armor loot drops in Sacred 3, gold is still dropped on a regular basis, along with health and power orbs. At seemingly random points during gameplay, weapon spirits are also unlocked. These too are primarily aimed at cooperative play, with their perks often boosting team mates at your expense. For example, the Elf allows health orbs to grant a higher percentage of health to party members while granting yourself less. Others, such as the Demoness which adds the possibility of a status effect while increasing damage taken, are of use when playing alone. While weapon spirits earn experience and level up, they do so with no visible indication provided to the player. The same is true of the limited choice of weapons players will be awarded over the course of the game in lieu of the more conventional loot drops. With the exception of weapon spirits, all forms of upgrading is done so by spending gold once a new ability or weapon power is unlocked upon leveling up.
The underlying story of Sacred 3 is the typical affair of opposing an evil tyrant intent on destroying the world. It is presented in a low budget fashion, using static cut scenes that are in direct contrast to the fully rendered sequence that plays under the opening title and main menu. The story also feels disjointed due to the story levels having little to no real connection to each other. The script is filled with attempts at humor which can only be described as cheesy. This terrible humor is also present throughout the game. But it was certain comments made by the weapons spirits, which left me shaking my head in a bemused fashion. In one instance while playing as the Seraphim Paladin, the Battlemage proclaimed, “I’m hot for you, baby”, while we were in an area surrounded by lava and being pelted by flaming boulders. Many of these comments, along with the recurring generic ones, left me wanting to turn that feature off, but there is no option to do so.
There are four levels of difficulty available in Sacred 3. Warrior, Champion and Legend are available when starting a new character. It is important though to note that these are interconnected. If you complete the game on Warrior difficulty, you will not be able to reset map progress to play through again on Legend. A fourth difficulty, Deity aimed at level 28 characters, is unlocked after completing the game. A typical play through will see a level 1 player reach level 25 by the end. As the first three difficulty settings are linked to the same progress, and mission rewards such as gold and XP are reduced for stages that have been outgrown. The player will find themselves either forced to grind the same few missions or be faced with the frustration of a quick death when playing on Deity. However, once a character reaches level 28, Deity will scale with the host providing a far more enjoyable experience.
Sacred 3 does suffer for some performance issues. With my dual monitor set up, I needed to disable the Desktop Window Manager Session Manager service, otherwise the game will start in a window at my main resolution but positioned partially off-screen. There are also several instances of noticeable drops in frame rate. Fortunately, most of these occur during transitioning points within a level where there is no combat. However, one of the boss battles was affected for its entire duration. I also experienced an enemy vanishing at a point where they all needed to be killed to progress. As a result, I had to quit to the level. While this resets the lobby to the default Public setting, any experience earned is kept. There are graphical glitches too – shadows are often not rendered correctly, resulting in large black squares being displayed in their place. This can be a little off putting, but does not impact visibility. Likewise, there is some flickering of assets, such as jars or barrels, and their surroundings when they are removed from the game world. Fighting in some corners can be hard as enemies are not visible, although I am unsure whether this is a bug.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
I cannot help but feel that Sacred 3 has been damaged by its title. Players expecting an experience in the vein of Sacred 1 or Sacred 2 will be highly disappointed. Sacred 3 would have been better off handled as a spin-off like Sacred Citadel, being priced and named accordingly. People wanting to spend some time in a hack and slash style action RPG without the need to manage loot drops, are likely to get some enjoyment from this. While I enjoyed my time with Sacred 3, it still feels like a budget game unfortunately priced higher than it should have been.
- Time Played – 13 Hours
- Widescreen Support – Yes
- Windowed Mode –
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Several
- DRM – Steamworks
- System Specs – Intel i7-3770K @3.50 GHz, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 670
- Control Scheme – M/KB, Controller (recommended)
- Saved Game Location – Steam\userdata\\247950\remote\autocloud\save
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- Availability – Steam, GamersGate, Amazon
- Demo – No