The Sacred game series was originally designed to be something of a Diablo-style dungeon-trolling RPG. You know the sort: a game with a three-quarter bird’s-eye fixed camera that peers down on a serious-minded elf and his surrounding battle-mage compatriots who slaughter lots of magic-infused monsters while searching for strategically placed chests of loot.
With time, however, that formula got finagled with. This third major installment in the series has pretty much done away with treasure and loot and such, becoming much more of an eye-roll-inducing tongue-in-cheek hack-‘n-slasher.
Want a bit more than just that? Well, grab your battleax (or perhaps the bow-and-arrows next to her—badump-chuck) and come along for a quick look-around.
The play takes place in the land of Ancaria, a world of various kingdoms and races that are being threatened by a dark elf warlord named Zane. This black-hearted blaggard wants to get his malevolent mitts on the “Heart of Ancaria,” a powerful artifact linked to the land (from which it draws its power). As the action starts, Zane grabs that magical thingamajig, believing that if he can disrupt the forces of the land enough, he can then bend the power of the Heart to his own will and become an unstoppable demigod.
That’s when a quartet of heroes from “the four corners of the world” step up to face him. Individual gamers (along with up to three friends) choose between Vajra (a ranger type who unleashes ice spells and a constant stream of arrows), Marak (a hulking warrior with a giant hammer and fire powers), Claire (a winged seraphim with air-based spells and a mighty sword) and Alithea (a quick fighter with a spear and a set of earth-based beatdowns). Sound like a pretty familiar tale and well-worn cast? Sure it does. But here’s where the game’s self-deprecating humor attempts to take the tried-and-truly-ancient into new modern-language directions.
Instead of sticking with the sober and staidly serious “yea” and “verily” outbursts typical of this genre, the game fills conversations with nudge-nudge contemporary snark that will make players forgive their mundane surroundings as they keep waiting for the next zinger.
Or, at least that was the hope.
But bits like, “His name starts with a ‘Z’ and ends with a ‘bite me!” or quippy sayings such as, “He who rushes will forget to visit the outhouse before leaving,” all end up feeling far less pleasurable than gamemakers were going for.
Not only that, but the dicey dialogue opens the door for some out-and-out obnoxious stuff, too. As you pick up “weapons spirit shards” that give your swing-about arsenal a bashing boost, they accost you with the likes of (the spirit of) an unsuccessful ladies’ man who bombards you with blatantly sexist remarks and copulation jokes. (There are mentions of threesomes and sexual come-ons.)
The warring can get plenty putrid, too. There are a variety of attacks, spell zaps and supernatural abilities to acquire. And even though we’re watching from overhead, the magic belches and melee weapon-lopping (involving humans, trolls, puking zombies, goblins, ice monsters, elemental beings and the like) still feature screams of pain and large gouts of scenery-painting blood and gore.
When gamers aren’t drinking in all that caustically spewing stuff, they also get views of female characters wearing, well, let’s say ridiculously un-protective cloaks and suits of armor that expose large amounts of shapely—
Done with your tour already? Headed for the door while my back was turned? Well, I’ll sum up with this then: Sacred 3 ends up feeling like quite an unholy mishmash of M-rated messiness. It features a tired old storyline mixed with lots of controller-clicking carnage, lines full of Leisure Suit Larry-like lingo and, well, nothing particularly sacred at all.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.