Sacred 3 has come along at a pretty good time. The hype around the Diablo 3 expansion Reaper of Souls has been dying down for a couple of months, giving the hack&slash genre a bit of breathing room. The Sacred series has never revolutionised, and has never been as big as the likes of Diablo, but what it’s trying to do, it does pretty well. Here is Sacred 3 to continue the franchise, and is something worth looking into if you’re feeling that familiar itch.
You choose from one of four heroes, and your goal is to save the world, of course. In terms of story, there’s nothing you haven’t heard before. You’ve got a big baddie, Zane, looking to perform evil deeds and you will meet his henchmen throughout the course of the game. Each level begins with a short cutscene, told in a comic book style with voiceover. It sets up your objectives, but really all it does is give a bit of direction to all the reckless killing you’ll be doing.
On a mission
The controls are pretty basic, to the point where you can play with a gamepad should you prefer that over a mouse. One button to hammer for attacks, another to either dodge or block, and the next to perform a shield break manoeuvre. You’ve also got several spells to choose from, but you can only select two of them at a time for use on a mission. Using combinations of all these, you’ll be hacking and slashing your way through dozens of levels.
Technically, the missions can be completed in any order you like, but you’d be foolish to try a later level without having reached a high enough level for your character. In fact, if you don’t do levels in the order that the world map provides for you, you probably won’t have a great time. Side missions litter the spaces in between the main story ones, and although they seem basic and throwaway, you’ll need to complete them in order to unlock new consumable items. These missions are only ever “Kill all enemies” or “Survive five waves”, but you’ll need them in order to pick up more health potions slots.
There’s a bit of variation to the combat, but for the most part it’s fairly repetitive. Some enemies have shields you have to break, others will channel abilities that you have to stop, but most will be brought down by hammering on the attack button. Holding down the attack button doesn’t keep swinging your weapon, so my thumb got tired after a few levels.
Most levels end with a boss encounter, but they’re very similar to each other. A little rolling behind them as they’re about to attack, and hiding behind some terrain gets you through most battles unscathed. Gold does pour out of defeated bosses in a very satisfying manner though.
The game tries to liven things up a bit with a lot of dialogue. So much so that it comes at you almost incessantly throughout each level. At each checkpoint you’ll have someone back at base telling you what’s going on and area bosses shout insults at you regularly. The game has an irreverent style and is going for humour much of the time, but mostly falls flat. You’ll find the kind of jokes you’d expect in a teen comedy. A lot of conversations only just fall short of something like: “Oh no, the world is ending, what a bummer!”
While the writing isn’t great, the voice acting is pretty good all round. I’m not a fan of the strange disconnect between the tone of the overarching story and the tone of the dialogue, but it’s done well. The exception is in the “weapon spirits” that provide bonuses to your weapons and unlock as you play. The only ones that seemed useful had lines that got repeated over and over, and made me cringe on multiple occasions. The first one you get is some sort of misogynistic mage who shouts such gems as “sexxaaayyyy” and “babycakes!” for no reason when you complete combos. Overall the game feels like it’s trying too hard to be funny, and it’s often painfully obvious.
Aesthetically, Sacred 3 looks pretty great. Environments are sometimes repeated, but there’s good variety, and the way the terrain falls away into interesting backgrounds is quite impressive. The camera helps too. Similar games are often plagued by camera angles that do nothing to help you, but Sacred's camera work is the best I’ve encountered. It pans around and zooms out seamlessly to give you the best view of the action, and I never found myself wondering where my character was or where I was supposed to be going.
Get it while the slashing is good
It took me around eight hours to complete the main story, but it wants you to jump back in after you’ve finished. A new difficulty level is unlocked at the end, plus you’ll still have lots of upgrades left to purchase.
Sacred 3 doesn’t do a whole lot wrong other than having lackluster writing. However, as has always been the case with the series, the action is very standard. There’s not a great deal of depth, but if you want to spend a few hours hacking and slashing your way through hordes of enemies, you could do a lot worse.
Nice visuals, good voice acting, hack and slash fun
Limited combat variety, lackluster writing