Nothing is sacred.
When beloved franchises hop developers, there is always a level of skepticism among the fan base. We’ve seen it time and again with characters leaving the nest and falling into obscurity. Crash Bandicoot meandered around to a few different homes, got a tattoo and eventually fell so out of favour that he hasn’t been seen since. Spyro the Dragon had several great Playstation collectathons, then he did a few way too serious origin stories with Frodo before being relegated to just another Skylander.
Guitar Hero. Metroid. Halo. Sonic. There are many examples of a torch being picked up or given to another to run with, only to have the torch abused and for the new handlers to be burned to various degrees. Deep Silver found this long abandoned torch and decided to use it to burn bridges, turning what was once a relatively diablo-esque action RPG into a shallow beat-em-up that really has no place in modern gaming.
"many will simply roll their eyes at the stand in navigator mother voice, terrible attempts at villain dialog that only serve to strip them of any sense of dread, or the generic “action hero” quips that come from the players that never illicit a chuckle the first time, let alone the thirtieth. "
Admittedly, I have no backing in these older games. Unfortunately, that doesn’t ease anything over. Upon starting the game, you are presented with four classes to select from that couldn’t be more generic if they had tried. You can choose between the Tank, Archer, and two female classes, though outside of the blatant sex appeal, those two don’t stand out at all. Trying to select one is a futile exercise, really, and They all play more or less the same, with the exception of the Archer who thanks to his dependence on range is entirely unsuited to solo play.
The plot of Sacred 3 is…there? There is an overarching narrative that I’m sure has some ties to the older games, but it’s so poorly written that it all becomes white noise. There’s a guy who was killed, but his son is mad because the son wanted to kill the guy first or something. Now the son is after an almighty plot McGuffin for an unclear reason and warriors from all over gather to fight against his armies, though it’s never clear what the overall goal is. You’re taken through the fantasy mission tropes so reliably that one so inclined could create a rap remix, though again, why you’re in these places and doing these things is never specific.
The writing flits between incomprehensible fantasy rhetoric that takes itself completely seriously, cringe worthy, unfittingly more modern jokes, and completely straight faced, banal game dialog that wouldn’t be out of place in a Gears of War clone.
The lazy writing comes across throughout the game, and many will simply roll their eyes at the stand in navigator mother voice, or the terrible attempts at villain dialog that only serve to strip them of any sense of dread, or the generic “action hero” quips that come from the players that never illicit a chuckle the first time, let alone the thirtieth. The support “characters” (and I use that term loosely, they are more or less item equips that can unfortunately chime in) are probably the worst of it, always falling squarely into the realm of annoying caricature.
"While Diablo is an easy game to compare to, in reality it shares at most, a camera angle. It bills itself as a Hack and Slash title, but that isn’t really apt either. "
The voice actors, who themselves were probably pulled off the street and offered a sandwich for their work, must have not had much faith in the writing either because they range from sounding bored to being ear bleed inducing. Music is just like the plot; simply present. Completely forgettable once you turn the game off, but never nearly as obtrusive as the chatter that you will beg to be able to turn off.
The title is visually nothing special either. Empty, linear areas with very little to interact with still manage to only elicit textures that would have been good early in the Xbox 360 life cycle. Character models are flatly textured and rather jagged, not to mention that nothing ever moves without it being part of an animation, as if hair was gelled down with concrete. Enemies received even less attention, probably because you never see them nearly as close anyways. They stand as brown sticks or blobs of various sizes and little else.
The mindlessness of the writing even worms its way into the gameplay. While Diablo is an easy game to compare to, in reality it shares at most, a camera angle. It bills itself as a Hack and Slash title, but that isn’t really apt either. I said “Beat Em Up” at the beginning of the review, and a clear distinction should be made between what a Hack and Slash game is and what a Beat ‘Em Up game is. Neither is particularly sacred (see what I did there) to this title.
"Though the setting may change, you can reliably count on bombarding ships, falling rocks, blocked paths, or any other manner of excuse for a “dodge the red circle” or “turn the wheel 6 times to open the path” gimmick in each stage. "
It lacks the spectacle one would come to a Hack and Slash such as Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta or Devil May Cry to see, not to mention depth of combat. Neither does it manage the frantic co-op and silly fun of a Beat ‘Em Up, like Double Dragon, Castle Crashers or Scott Pilgrim. Rather it manages to sit somewhere in the middle, delivering neither a thrill ride or a goofy romp with friends. There is little interaction beyond pointing yourself towards something to die and clicking on it.
There is no loot to be found, no customization to the characters. Not even any obvious benefit to levelling up, beyond being allowed to purchase upgrades to your meagre few skills and having something to spend your vast amounts of gold on. In fact, only two “combat art” skills can be equipped despite none of them packing much punch. Other standard equipment includes a dodge roll and a shield breaking, not to mention game breaking, wave that you’ll charge to break shields and stun your numerous foes.
The only difficulty comes from how many foes are thrown at you, the metaphorical ants ruining the picnic. For the most part, they either keep the same simple attack throughout the game or simply stand around waiting for your blade. One could theoretically put a bit more flash into it by utilizing the tricky to execute enemy throwing or downed enemy executions, but there is little point when they fall just the same. Though the setting may change, you can reliably count on bombarding ships, falling rocks, blocked paths, or any other manner of excuse for a “dodge the red circle” or “turn the wheel 6 times to open the path” gimmick in each stage.
"You’ll almost constantly become stun locked by a barrage of abuse without anything you can do about it, making the boss fights an exercise in frustration to mirror the exercise in tedium that is the rest of the game. "
Boss fights are challenging, but in all the wrong ways. Pattern recognition and memorization means nothing when the big baddy can immediately pivot to where you rolled to, or just send out an arena wide wave of fire. It becomes about how much you can game the AI, or how many heath potions you’ve got left from the level. You’ll almost constantly become stun locked by a barrage of abuse with nothing you can do about it, making the boss fights an exercise in frustration to mirror the exercise in tedium that is the rest of the game.
Given how simple the gameplay is, it’s confounding that the controls themselves are janky, and it only compounds the problems with the rest of the game. You move using the usual PC method, obviously fixed to the eight cardinal directions. Mouse directs where you face though, which is just as obviously much more free and created a disconnect. Mapping combat arts to numerical keys and throws/executions to buttons surrounding the W,A,S,D setup is like asking you to take your thumb off the stick to use a shoulder button. They overall feel poorly thought out.
Rolling itself, your singular universal evasive option, is mapped to the space bar. That in and of itself is not the problem, my thumb naturally fell there. But how the directionality of the roll worked is where the issues cropped up. It follows where the mouse is pointed as opposed to what direction you might be moving. Recall how the mouse controls where you face and thus, who you attack. Rolling sends you where you’re facing instead of the direction you’re moving at the time, Sending you right back into the attack you were moving away from until you understand this weird rule.
" Not only is there nothing of value to be found in Sacred 3, it can’t even run properly. "
Honestly, the game seems almost completely set up to use a controller, And I would love to talk about how it plays with one if the game wouldn’t reliably drop itself into an unending loading screen before the menu whenever there was one connected. This is assuming that it didn’t crash to begin with, or how a game that barely looks better than Halo 2 while running on high can send Windows 8.1 into a panic attack about running low on memory. Not only is there nothing of value to be found in Sacred 3, it can’t even run properly.
There is nothing precious to be found in Sacred 3. Gameplay is as mindless as is the AI itself, visuals are sub-par, and the writing is, giving it as much credit as I am willing to muster, simply terrible. When the game does seem to want to try challenge, it only manages frustration. Judging it as its own thing does it no favours, and it’s probably a bigger betrayal to people who actually followed the series. All wit aside, use fire to burn.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Some enjoyment might be squeezed out of this by bashing it with friends in a co-op session. kind of like a bad movie night.
The writing is so all over the place and plain bad that it makes me consider cutting. Presentation is verging on mediocre and is just alright at best. There is little to distinguish the meagre four playable classes, aside from one of them being terrible for solo play. The mindless gameplay sits somewhere between “Hack and slash” and “beat ‘em up”, yet carries the positives of neither. Rather the mindless nature of the gameplay serves mainly to bore until a boss fight comes up and demands you learn what AI quirk to exploit this time. The controls on PC are obtuse and frustrating. Myriad bugs bring the game down further and among other things, keep you from using a controller to get around them despite the game being designed around one.
Nope. Just nope. Go elsewhere. Sacred 3 offers nothing worth seeing.