REVIEW / Sacred 3 (PC)

 

Emperor Zane has finally fallen off his rocker and now commands the Ashen Empire to invade Ancaria in the search to obtain the Heart of Ancaria. With this artifact, Emperor Zane will have the ability to conquer the lands of Ancaria and bring its citizens to its knees. If he thought that this was going to be an easy task, he’s got another thing coming. From the developers at Deep Silver comes Sacred 3, a fast paced, hack ’n’ slash, classic arcade style game that you and three other friends can play together. In order to push back Emperor Zane’s advances, the strongest warriors from the many different nations of Ancaria have banded together to form an elite task force. Together, using the powerful combat arts that have been developed in their specific cultures for centuries, these warriors are Ancaria’s last line of defense to save the realm.

 

The usual suspects.

 

Taking place 3,000 years after the events in Sacred 2, Sacred 3 offers the franchise’s usual tongue-in-cheek humor melded into a seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op gameplay system that allows the player to enlist the services of their friends locally or online. Gameplay in Sacred 3 consists of choosing your champion from the four available at the start and battling your way through the levels, being sure to take advantage of that champions’ abilities to beat back the agents of Emperor Zane. Sacred 3 is hack’n’slash to the core and Deep Silver has made sure to make this aspect of the game the central theme. Battle the undead, orcs, trolls and a myriad others – the “who’s who” of dungeon-type creatures – in order to collect gold and to earn experience points that can be used to level up your champion so that she/he is at the top of their game to topple Emperor Zane’s forces. Depending on your style of play, choosing the champion that compliments that style will allow you to have the best chance of saving Ancaria and sending Emperor Zane scurrying to get back under the rock that he and his legions crawled out from under.

The graphics in Sacred 3 are one of the best aspects of this game and are on par with or better than many games in this genre right now. Fire from torches in dungeons casts eerie shadows while magic spells scream towards their targets and explode to fill the screen with brilliant lighting effects. The character models are very nicely done as well and are highly detailed. The champions all have a different and unique design that highlights their differing fighting styles and cultures. Monsters are equally impressive in design and are presented in enough of a variety that you never get tired of reducing them to a puddle of goo or sending them to the afterlife in a shower of sparks, smoke and ashes. The visuals are very impressive and definitely helps to set the tone of the entire adventure.

 

The lighting effects are really amazing.

 

Sacred 3 has some of the best music and sound effects that I have had the pleasure of experiencing this year. The soundtrack is spot on and brings the world of Ancaria to life. Sound effects are also on point and helps to engross the player on the adventure to thwart Emperor Zane and his minions. Explosions roar from the speakers as magic spells scream across the screen towards their intended targets. The voice acting is also a highlight to this game and make the crazy characters come to life. While a lot of the dialogue is basically modern day slapstick, the voice actors do a great job of selling the story line which in turn makes the time you will spend in Ancaria enjoyable and often times very funny.

Although Sacred 3 can be played solo, the multiplayer is really where the action and fun begins. The game can be played with one or two players locally and up to four players online. From the in-game menu, you can adjust the settings to allow anyone to jump into your game, only your friends or only players that are at a certain level. The seamless integration is very subdued as you will simply get a pop-up notification that another player is joining your game and that the number of enemies and their levels will be increased accordingly so that the experience is enough of a challenge for all players involved. At the same time, you can jump into the menu and request to jump into someone else’s game and help them conquer their levels. Sacred 3 offers one of the smoothest, most unobtrusive methods for playing with others that I have seen in a long time. Passing on at least giving the multiplayer a try would be unwise as this is where the game really shines.

 

Two are oftentimes better than one when is comes to defeating large, horned beasts.

 

Launching on the heels of other isomorphic dungeon crawlers, the simplicity of Sacred 3 may not immediately appeal to some players. During the levels, the only items that you collect will be gold and orbs to replenish your health and/or magic. That’s it. Occasionally you will gain a new weapon or some armor once you defeat a particular opponent but loot drops just aren’t a focus of this game. I do have to say that it would have been nice to have more weapons to choose from and more of an ability to upgrade them and this aspect may keep away those players that enjoy a more hands-on approach to weapons customization. The gold that you collect on the battle field can be used to buy upgrades to your weapons, abilities and magic attacks but that is about the extent of it. In addition, you can only make changes to your character between levels so it is imperative that you stock up on supplies and make changes to your champion then because you are stuck with those settings while you are clearing a level. Other than that, this is a pure hack ‘n’ slash game that leaves out all of the focus of managing item inventories for a good, old-fashioned video game slash-fest.

 

Teamwork: Player One opens up a mega-sized can of whoop-ass on angry foes while Player Two works crowd control.

 

Sacred 3 really surprised me in two very important ways. First of all, not getting loot drops in a hack ‘n’ slash type of game seems to be antithetical to the genre, however, I found myself concentrating more on my attack strategies in the absence of trying to figure out what was the best weapon to use, should I sell the items that are low level or what is the best pieces of armor to wear out of the twenty different pieces that I have collected so far. Second, I don’t usually like to play multiplayer modes because it’s often a chore to find friends to play and playing with strangers sometimes isn’t too appealing to me. In the case of this game, I didn’t have to hardly do any work. The game defaults to allowing people online to join your game so all you have to do is start a game and if there is someone looking for a game to play, they are just placed into your game and off your go. Overall, it has been an awesome experience even if the corny dialogue can get a bit clichéd at times.

 

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