A successful game series is defined by several things, one of which is a steady improvement on a particular formula that was started with the first game and refined in the succeeding ones. It stands to reason that sequels show the evolution from their predecessors in both gameplay and aesthetics while carrying a story along that may or may not be connected to the previous one. If a sequel does not adhere to this in more than one way, then that calls for some stern judgment.
Sacred 3 is supposedly the sequel to Sacred and Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, but it’s not really so. This game is a hack-and-slash brawler developed by Keen Games and published by Deep Silver. Take note that the first two games were action role-playing games, which do have hack-and-slash elements but still played more like a traditional computer RPG anyway. This one has none of that at all as it plays more like a top-down version of Darksiders. It’s a completely different feel altogether, and that’s a big hurdle to jump over if it wanted to be liked by fans of Sacred.
You play as one of the four heroes, namely the hammer-wielding fire warrior Marak, the winged paladin with air magic Claire, the quick earth-based spear fighter Alithea, and the ice ranger Vajra. There’s also a pre-order DLC character, the assassin Kython the Malakhim, who is actually quite cool and should have been available for everyone who bought the game in the first place. They’re up against the tyrant Zane Ashen and his Ashen Empire, who is looking to obtain the powerful Heart of Ancaria for his own purposes, which you should not allow to happen.
Picking a character is all it is, and not much else in the way of aesthetic customization as there is none. You get to change your combat arts and such, which are divided between light and heavy that have four of each to pick from. They can be changed only outside a quest, so you are stuck with whatever you have until you’re done. Since succeeding combat arts have to be unlocked by leveling up higher, you have to finish before you can change to a stronger one, so you can’t test a recently unlocked combat art immediately. There’s also so few of them, so
Each combat art have their own level up system as well, wherein you can equip it with modifiers that you can acquire with gold. They can make the combat art more powerful and have different properties that may be useful to you, depending on the enemies and your particular playing style. But then as you get into the game itself, the controls may not make as much sense as it should, especially with being a hack-and-slash brawler. There are some key bindings that can’t be changed, and that’s always a problem. The rest are easy enough to understand though, and they’re responsive enough as well.
The game also features four-player co-op multiplayer, which is not bad at all for what it does to extend replay value. But if you can only play the singleplayer, then it may feel a bit tedious due to its repetitive nature and uneven difficulty, even though the action itself is fun at first. There’s also something about the graphics and how they make the in-game world look. While it does look nice and all, the level designs are a bit too simple and the world just looks different from the previous games.
Games like these, especially ones with more than two games under its belt, is all about creating its own world that fans can recognize and pick out from the rest of the worlds in other games. There’s a distinctness that can be seen in a world like Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls series or Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda. If you make a game’s environment, especially wtih an established world, look different from that of its predecessors to where it’s no longer recognizable, then you’ve done something quite wrong there. But then again, this game takes that to the next level by being a different genre altogether, which is even worse.
Apologists may defend this game’s quality by saying, “So it’s a different game, but it’s still good so no one should care”. However, there are other points of contention to go with that. For instance, it also has a pre-order DLC, which is very disrespectful to consumers. There are five main characters in the story, but only four of them are playable unless you get the DLC that adds in the fifth one. That’s also a couple of steps down from the number of characters in Sacred 2, which was seven. They may also like the voice acting and storyline, while others would feel that they’re asinine and all cheesed out.
If it was necessary to make a Sacred game that is different from its predecessors, then perhaps it could have been named as “Sacred: Insert Subtitle Here” instead of being a direct sequel like what they did with Sacred Citadel. This game is still playable, but only if you haven’t played and/or liked the previous Sacred games and don’t mind repetitive button-mashing action.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 4/10