Wot I Think: Sacred 3

By John Walker on August 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am.

Sacred has always been Diablo’s cheeky little cousin. Made with none of the precision or flair of Blizzard’s series, they’ve been bumbling action-RPGs that have attempted humour, mostly missed, and been generic but inoffensive click-a-thons. Hey folks, that’s all about to change with Sacred 3! This game is properly, unambiguously rubbish. Here’s wot I think:

From the opening moments, Sacred 3 feels like a bad time. Making Sacred 2’s bug-ridden launch look like a carnival of fun, part three – from a different developer and publisher – is a stripped-down shell of the franchise, seemingly constructed as dreadfully as possible. I’ve not encountered anything I’d call a bug while playing; instead I’ve encountered consistently terrible design ideas deliberately implemented. Once again we enter the fantasy world of Ancaria, to click on a squillion enemies, and hear a story of its perennial theft of mcguffins. Except, without any redeeming features.

Extraordinarily, in a move that strikes me as about the most foolish choice imaginable, this latest entry to the series has ditched any sense of gathering loot, and even the inventory. Instead, downed enemies will now only reward you with showers of health or energy orbs, and tiny scraps of gold (used to unlock skills). That core of Action RPGs, the compulsive, adorable chase for improved swords, hats and potions, is entirely gone. And replaced by nothing. Sacred 3 perhaps isn’t an ARPG. It’s a sort of nothingy-space.

I’ve been trying to imagine the scenario where that decision came about. Giving it some thought, perhaps at some point there was a meeting to decide how they’d do loot in Sacred 3, when a fire alarm went off and everyone had to go outside. In their hurry they left a window open, and in flew a confused gull, which began madly flapping around the room, knocking over bottles and coffee cups, its idiot wings smearing the writing on the whiteboard. Eventually, by dumb luck, the gull manages to crash back out through the window. When the team comes back in no one notices the results, and they accidentally implement the smudged remains of their design ideas. Thanks, gull.

The controls are the next most strange aspect. Rather than sticking to traditional ARPG mouse-led movement (which was present in Sacred 2), here you steer your character with WASD, attack with the mouse buttons, and yet still need to fire off special attacks with the early number keys and your cursor defines the direction in which some movements will occur… A needless muddle. Or one that expects you to awkwardly play the game with a controller, despite the genre. There’s absolutely no discernible reason why the game couldn’t have let clicking also act as movement, but as we’ll come to see, this is Sacred 3, so nope.

This leads to an awkwardness during fights, which are already frenzied indecipherable madness, not helped at all by an extremely clumsy on-screen interface. Rather than the tried, tested and ideal bottom bar, instead you’ve got what looks like an ITV sport score box, massively oversized in the top left of the screen as if the resolution were left at 800×600 (it isn’t), poorly communicating what attacks you have available. And that’s just a fraction of the irrelevant clutter that obscures what you’re doing.

The closest the game gets to anything like the thing that makes people enjoy clickfest RPGs comes betwixt the levels, in completely unexplained screens where you can barely change elements of your character once you’ve reached the right levels. Maybe improve a special attack in a poorly specified way? But not actually mould or adapt them in a way that interests you or suits your style of play. And this is all just there, never introduced, or encouraged – in fact, it’s presented so bizarrely that you could miss it entirely, confusing the gibberish sliver at the bottom of the post-mission screen for what looks like an online leaderboard.

Open it up and it’s abysmally laid out. There’s no logic, no trees of options, and instead the unexplained XP-spending windows cover each other up. Trying to improve a skill requires clicking an unspecific number of times before it will react, and then there’s no meaningful sense of what difference it will make. There’s no sense of why you’d want to improve one skill over another. It’s just about arbitrarily assigning things and wondering if it makes a blind bit of difference to the distracted clicking that makes up the bulk of the game.

In a strange game of strangely terrible ideas, the strangest thing of all is the incessant jabbering from the game’s characters. Delivered sarcastically, but never with any humour, a collection of unwanted heads endlessly blather away at you. It’s, I think, an attempt at self-deprecating commentary, which – as is almost inevitable in games that try this – means the characters are tiresomely pointing out how the game is trite, clichéd and predictable. So let’s say this once again:

Saying that your game is shit, while your game is being shit, does not make your game any less shit. In fact, it makes your game fourteen times more shit. We have graphs to prove it.

This spoken nonsense never stops. Snarky, witless gibberish comes from about five different unseen voices at any time, making me feel like I’m losing my mind as I play. There are, apparently, “spirits” who join you, giving you extremely tenuous bonus abilities, and they add to this cacophonic chorus. And one of them’s a wackily sexist dude! He says things that are knowingly sexist! Or there’s the timid dragon! He’s scwared. None of them worse, however, than the ‘does-this-sound-sassy?’ voice of your constantly faux-mordant companion, who barks utter rubbish at you throughout. (See the video just below.)

The cherry on top of this plop is that when your own character speaks, his or her words appear in a vast, black speech bubble above their head, entirely obscuring the fighting! Because someone somewhere decided that was fine. Perhaps another gull. Teams of people making a game said, “Yup, let’s have a huge black speech bubble that is guaranteed to obscure whatever the player is currently fighting.” No one objected. It was part of the finished game.

Here’s half an hour of me playing the game:

Sacred 2 was a very strange game indeed, appearing two years after Titan Quest in 2008, the year before the likes of Torchlight re-revived the genre, and so gaining a bit of a pass for at least being an ARPG in a dry time. It was clumsy in the extreme, with its own peculiar controls (W and S move the character back and forth, but A and D rotate the screen, while movement works on the mouse too), and a ludicrously over-large game world packed with more side quests than you could possibly keep track of. Sacred 3 seems to have addressed this latter concern by killing the concept of a game world entirely.

Instead you now have a mission select screen via a map, each linear mission set in self-contained corridors, side quests now existing in their own tiny instanced zone. Rather than an RPG world to explore, here it’s about playing almost identical levels, each with their own tiresome final boss. And because of this, because the sense of a world is taken away, death (where the game offers any challenge, it should be noted) means checkpoints, and the checkpoints are a textbook guide to doing them appallingly. Long, frustrating sequences where death is far more likely than not are then followed by more potentially lethal stages, with no checkpoint between. Die in the latter and you’re forced to yet again repeat the former until you fluke past it, and so on.

And despite this, despite the fractured, bitty nature of the game’s delivery, it is still presented in enforced multiplayer, impossible to pause if the phone rings.

Oh, gawd, just everything about it seems to be going out of its way to be ghastly. Surely no one could create an interface where when closing multiple overlaid windows, the “back” button switches between the left and right slots, by accident? That has to be deliberate malice, right? Or have it so the display settings reset themselves each time you load the game, but only resetting after forcing you to sit through multiple splash screens. “Ooh, it’s still in a window… Oh.” Or have an option to switch the dreary, incessant music off, that doesn’t actually do anything! Or a game built with a fixed camera that then fills the fourth wall of the screen with actual fourth walls, so you can’t see what’s going on half the bloody time.

It’s spectacularly bad. Bad not like Sacred games have been bad before, where maps stopped working or the game just crashed. In this game crashing would be a welcome feature. Here the awfulness is hard-programmed into the code, wilful, deliberate. It’s a series of abysmal choices strung together in a vacuous, tiresome chain of near-identical linear missions. The “combat arts” should have been its defining feature, letting you craft a unique and elaborate fighting style to afford this drivel at least the genre of “hack n slash”. But instead it’s the rusting chassis of an ARPG, after it’s been stripped down for parts and left, abandoned in a disused yard, where it really ought to be forgotten.

Sacred 3 is a huge £34 on Steam, but wasn’t supposed to be out for another four days. Which is odd. We checked with PR, and they said it wasn’t out today, but, um, it is! It’s on sale on 360 and PS3 too. What a palaver!

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127 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    Wow.

    That was so damning the Three Gorges tweeted “DAYAM brah!”

  2. Premium User Badge

    quietone says:

    Sacred 1 and 2 where bizarre, with awful stories and no interest whatsoever in immersion. But they were the second best line of Diablo descendants, after Titan’s Quest. Why? Because the core of this kind of ARPGs is in the loot, the exploration and the classes/skills. Story if for Mass Effect or Dragon’s Age games. And in that sense Sacred and TQ were great. This game sounds and look like some second rate fighter game.

    I expected for years this third installment. You just broke my heart.

    Damn you, John Walker, damn you to hell!

    • frightlever says:

      Sacred got a pass from me because you could dress up like Jason. Sacred 2 went on FOREVER. Never finished it.

      • Tikanderoga says:

        Sacred 1 was OK – played it extensively too, but what really annoyed me: You had to socket the runes, not learn them, else your skills would get a penalty. And speaking of which:
        Skill at level 1 uses 5 mana, does 5 damage.
        Skill at level 2 uses 7 mana, does 6 damage
        Skill at level 3 uses 10 mana, does 8 damage

        How is that an improvement?
        Rather stay at skill 1 and use the skill 10 times rather than 5 times at level 3.

    • Premium User Badge

      Anthile says:

      Sacred was originally meant to be an adaptation of a Dark Eye module named Armalion back in about 2001. It was supposed to be published by Jowood but they didn’t get along with the original developer (Ikarion) and it was cancelled. Ikarion went bankrupt and the already 2/3 finished Armalion was bought by Ascalon, rebranded as Sacred. It was a modest success but development on Sacred 2 turned out to be so disastrous that Ascalon closed down in 2009. Deep Silver acquired the rights to Sacred and Kalypso most of the rest. Presumably nobody who worked on the original Sacred games was involved with Sacred 3.
      It has that in common with Divine Divinity which has an oddly similar backstory. It was an original game with the beautiful name Unless: The Treachery (of Death) but later Attic convinced Larian to turn it into a Dark Eye game. That was The Lady, the Mage and the Knight which was already quite a bit like the later Divine Divinity but it had three main characters and the player would only control one of them at a time while the other two are controlled by the AI. I guess it was supposed to be kind of like Secret of Mana in that way. One ’98 preview even spoke of online co-op but we had to wait until Original Sin for that to happen. However, it was cancelled and partially recycled into Divine Divinity (which was supposed to be just Divinity).
      So yeah, Games development in Germany is rough and Larian have no luck with names.

    • aepervius says:

      Normally I tend to say never explain with malice what can be explained with stupidity. but in this case it is *blatant*. The cheap gameplay, the horrendous simple level design, and the intentional re-usage of the name sacred 3 to a hefty price tag, this can simply be explained by deep silver intentionally trying to mislead people, maybe misleading them into pre ordering or impulse buying, then gathering a lot of money for something which looks like it has very low production value. bait and switch.

      I suspect it was indeed very malicious.

  3. Gilead says:

    So you’d say it’s about, what, 7/10?

  4. Pich says:

    So… 7/10?

    • razgon says:

      I suspect a more 5/10 is appropriate.

    • Perkelnik says:

      So it’s a… dammit!

      Well I’ll see myself out…

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      The exact same comment, twice in a row. Why does this same tiresome thing appear every time a negative Wot I Think gets posted? I mean, it’s not like we’re not long past the point of getting the so-called “joke.” Yes, other sites which shall not be named tend to stay within a certain range when giving out scores. This has been a thing for years now. It’s nothing new and original to point it out. Must the “joke” be made under every single bad Wot I Think?

      • dE says:

        It’s a sad story really, after the King outruled Puns, the Association of extraordinary Gentlepeople rebelled. In a daring dashing act of defiance, they stole the essence of wit and left for another virtual country. Ever since we feeble leftovers have cried for more class and style in comments, but all we get are passive aggressive comments, memes and oh the irony.
        Maybe one day, perhaps they will all come back in suits of shining armor, keyboard in hand and philosophy of the ages at the tip of their tongue. Maybe if we all pull together and improve the quality of comments, the wit may return.

      • MacTheGeek says:

        The exact same comment, twice in a row.

        SNARKFACE!

        Why does this same tiresome thing appear every time a negative Wot I Think gets posted?

        Horace the Endless Running Joke demands it.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Bradamantium says:

    Someone (TotalBiscuit, I think) speculated that the game was pushed out the door early to beat its launch-day embargo and fleece a few folks before game reviewers could let out a collective shout of “No, don’t!” It’s so bad and unlike its predecessors I wonder why they didn’t bother trying to label it a spinoff, SACRED: ACTION GAME or (NOTHING IS) SACRED.

    • Niko says:

      Considering a number of questionable design decisions, I guess giving it more time wouldn’t have helped.

      • elevown says:

        What has more time to do with anything? id you even read what he said? The games embargo for reviews hasnt even been reached yet- its in a few hours- but the game was released a bit early- just like a day or whatever. People think this was deliberate- they didnt tell the reviewers they were doing it – so they could sell as many copies as posible BEFORE people got chance to read any reviews.

    • Archonsod says:

      They already released a spin off action game in the form of Sacred Citadel. Which amusingly isn’t actually bad for a side scrolling brawler.

      • Baines says:

        That depends a bit on who you ask.

        From what I saw, fans of side scrolling brawlers were a bit more critical of Sacred Citadels, which makes some basic and/or annoying design mistakes.

        It isn’t necessarily “bad,” but the quality of the sheer number of “average” brawlers means the bar to be “competent” is set pretty low. On the other hand, the bar for “good” is arguably kind of high.

  6. Antsy says:

    That video obviates my need to ever look at Sacred 3 again.

    Oh wait, is it supposed to be a joke that the bad guy uses words improperly?

  7. Premium User Badge

    deadfolk says:

    Sounds like someone needs a sabbatical.

  8. trjp says:

    In fairness, you say you’d failed to complete a level on a harder difficulty and then complained that the easier difficulty was too-easy and required no skill – that could be said to be – erm – well…

    The developer’s track record isn’t exactly amazing – their website doesn’t even admit to making this but their history (from Wikipedia) is

    Anno 1701: Dawn of Discovery (2007, Nintendo DS )
    Dance Dance Revolution – Disney Channel Edition (2008, PlayStation 2 , released only in North America)
    Secret Files: Tunguska (2008, Nintendo Wii )
    What’s Cooking with Jamie Oliver (2008, Nintendo DS)
    Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis (2009, Nintendo DS & Wii)
    Anno – Create A New World (2009, Nintendo DS & Wii)
    Virtual Villagers (2009, Nintendo DS)
    G-Force – Biss (2009, Nintendo DS & PlayStation Portable )
    TNT Racers (2010, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 , PlayStation 3 , PlayStation Portable)
    Sacred 3 (in development, Windows , Xbox 360 , PlayStation 3 )

    Ask yourself how – if YOU owned the Sacred franchise – you could look at their games to-date and say “these are the people we need!!”

    Mind you, their website says they did Dave Mirra BMX on Gameboy Color too – how could you miss THAT!!

    • Koozer says:

      Hey, Anno 1701 was great fun on the DS.

      • Awesomeclaw says:

        Yeah it actually kind of introduced me to the Anno series. When I found out that they were also on PC and were amazing, significant chunks of my life, sometimes hours at a time, started unexpectedly disappearing, replaced only by warehouses, trade routes, and a faint sense of why do these high level citizens feel so god damn entitled.

    • Sian says:

      The list of games on their website (which also doesn’t mention Sacred 3) lists some more titles that aren’t exactly well known. I have no idea why Deep Silver decided to go with Keen Games. They have exactly zero experience in the field, instead making cheap games. Just… why?

  9. Niko says:

    Regarding no loot drops, Chinese ARPG Blade & Sword managed to do it somewhat successfully. Enemies only dropped gold, some consumable stuff and upgrade gems. There was no interchangeable equipment, only upgrades. The game balanced that by having an interesting combat mechanics which allowed you to create your own combos from basic attacs, though.

    • trjp says:

      Dungeon Siege III tried ‘streamlining’ this too – by making almost all the choices and gear you did get, utterly pointless ;0

      • MkMax says:

        and upgrades very linear (you only got to slightly bend the order you got things in)

        and that made long dungeons soooooooooooooooooooooo boring to be honest, even tho bosses were kind of fun

    • mattevansc3 says:

      I’m slowly teaching myself to create a game with the end goal to create a tactics game and one of the design decisions I’ll be making is to make it “lootless”. There will be enemy drops but they’ll fall into two categories, “Trophies” such as wolf paws and bandit heads that can be sold for cash or traded in for quest rewards and “Ingredients” such as broken swords, basilisk venom and dragon scales which can be used to craft potions and equipment. Actual weapon drops will be rare and armour drops will be rarer still as most of it will be damaged trying to kill the wearer.

      A “lootless” system can work as long as you have additional systems to back it up.

      • trjp says:

        What you describe as “lootless” appears to be what other people call ‘Vendor Trash’ ;0

        • Niko says:

          Not necessary, if you can make all items important enough.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Yes and no. Why would a boar be carrying a purse? It wouldn’t so it shouldn’t drop gold as loot. Gold and equipment is obtained through rewards, chests, selling stuff and occasionally from other humanoids that use a currency system. The main purpose of the loot is to either be sold or used in crafting. Pretty much every ARPG has a shop that is useless because the loot is generally more powerful than what can be purchased , that has the knockon effect of making consumables the only thing worth buying giving your character a health potion IV drip. It also means that 90% of your loot will become worse than vendor trash as you have better equipped and you have so much money saved you don’t need the extra cash.

          • Diatribe says:

            Realism is overrated.

            Why can your character go for the whole adventure without eating or using the facilities? How come you don’t have to sleep? Why don’t you have to see a doctor after every fight to address your injuries? How can your character survive repeated blows without being maimed?

            When we play video games, there is a suspension of disbelief. If your game is about killing loot pinatas, then most people are willing to suspend disbelief that loot pops out of non-intelligent foes. Mostly because they appreciate not having to go back and forth to a vendor selling whatever garbage you make drop. And if you make them trudge back and forth because “it’s more realistic” many players will wonder why you have no respect for their time.

            If, on the other hand, your game is more about simulating an interactive world (such as Divinity: Original Sin) it makes a little bit of sense to do things as you describe, because there is less suspension of disbelief and your game has to be internally consistent. However, that doesn’t sound like the kind of game you’re designing.

            Bottom line: Don’t make your players go to town to sell all of their “crispy basilisk urethra’s” in order to get enough money to buy a new sword. (Who wants to buy all these random animal parts anyway?) It’s not fun, it’s just a lame waste of time.

          • sassy says:

            If you are going down that route then implement an auto sell system. These systems can be implemented in two obvious ways, one would be at a vendor (sold automatically when talking to the vendor or with the press of a button) or can be done automatically on the field (A Bards Tale did this, you would collect all manner of absurd loot and it would say what it is in the corner before changing into money. I believe Deathspank had a similar system but I might be remembering wrong).

            Basic advice coming from a games design graduate (means something but not that much) is to always consider the player first and what it means to them. You can make things more realistic but if it is going to be a source of frustration then look at alternative methods to achieve your goal, even if it isn’t 100% realistic.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        You’re not designing a lootless system. You’re designing a cumbersome system with somewhat less loot, and that less interesting.

        You really might want to rethink that…

    • MkMax says:

      I dont understand how this is supposed to work, the genre thrives on loot, the skinner box needs its food pills, the player needs to be rewarded, the gameplay is not interesting and varied enough to hold them without the loot, you would need to change it so much it would start turning into a different genre

      • Niko says:

        Why? If the genre is called ARPG, it must have action and role-playing elements. Check out Blade & Sword for an example (it’s old, and not a perfect game, but it’s got some interesting ideas).

        • socrate says:

          Blade and Sword as had tons of horrible review and still as today from people who try it and the only people ive seen that are into it are people that are into martial art or asian people(guessing solidarity on this one but then again they do love their grinding) or weirdly south american

          the game become repetitive really fast and is just horrible in so much way…the game feel more like a beat em up and shouldn’t be called an arpg at all since it as very few relation with the arpg genre

          The game feel like your playing a less cool assasin from Diablo 2 in a mystical chinese setting…yes the combo are more elaborate but the enemy are beyond stupid and will just watch you while you beat on their friend or just stunlocking every enemy while making the game easy mode….its really an insanely dull game that also look dull even when it first came out.

          Good loot just adds tons of replayability and gameplay option if well done and Diablo 2 does it perfectly thus why it was so successful,nowaday you see really dumb loot system that don’t help the game at all become more fun and just add to the longevity of the game with randomisation and atrocious drop rate that just push player to grind for insane amount of time or cheat(like borderland 2).

          • toxic avenger says:

            Is English your first language?

            In what world is Blade and Sword not an ARPG, and how do you know what races of people enjoy said game?

            How does Borderlands 2 force, even encourage a player to cheat?

      • Baines says:

        It is a really out there idea these days, but instead of relying on the Skinner Box, you could try making the game fun to play.

        Though I wouldn’t trust the Sacred series even under normal circumstances to lead that charge. Much less so with a new developer with a relatively poor track record.

        • MkMax says:

          The skinner box CAN be fun to play, thats why it works, ARPGS are skinner boxes, they have always been, i dont find that fact to be a bad thing as long as its not intentionally exploited to get me to drop extra money

          it gets screwed up when they use it to do real money action houses and microtransactions

          • Baines says:

            Games shouldn’t need the Skinner Box to be fun. (And the use and reliance on that Skinner Box is particularly bad because it affects how people view all games, not just the games that use/abuse it.)

            It reminds me a bit of debating game design and the impact of multiplayer. I remember arguing with people who felt Phantasy Star Online was one of the greatest games of its generation. The game itself is honestly kind of poorly designed. It *becomes* fun when played with others, not because of any kind of amazing design but rather in spite of flawed design. The effects of multiplayer tend to hide design issues, simply because many things become fun when you start interacting with other people.

  10. awm says:

    Yes, yes. But tell us how you really feel.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I bet he feels it’s better than Myst. :oP

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Dental surgery is better than Myst.

        • pepperfez says:

          It’s true: Never have I walked away from Myst with a bottle of narcotics.

          • gi_ty says:

            This is true, mainly because after playing Myst any narcotics on hand would have already been consumed.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Morph says:

    I cant believe I just spent 27 minutes watching John play that crap.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      But at least John has a delightful voice.

    • Henchimus says:

      I had to watch to see just how bad the writing got.

      Damn. I’ve heard funnier Bridget Christie jokes.

      Actually, I haven’t, but the “jokes” were spectacularly godawful.

      • toxic avenger says:

        Ok, I’ll be the first one to bite (your comment is designed for someone to, after all): What game got panned by JW that you lubbed so very very much which caused this specific bug up your ass?

  12. Wulfram says:

    Getting rid of the loot churn doesn’t seem like an inherently bad idea to me.

    Nor does removing the pointless traipsing/slaughter of the “open world” that everyone seems to have decided is a good thing for reasons escape me.

    • razgon says:

      And the clicking – the damn pointless clicking is another thing they should get rid off.

      • John Walker says:

        And the monsters. And the character.

      • Wulfram says:

        Well, without pointing, how would you know what to click on?

        But seriously, why would the game be better if you walked through some bland countryside and engaged in challenge-free combat with people who only exist to fill up the bland countryside?

        • thebigJ_A says:

          So instead they’ve got bland dungeons with challenge-free combat to fill up the bland dungeons?

          Hint: the idea is to have an open world that ISN’T bland. If you don’t want to have an interesting world to explore between your dungeons, fine. You better damn well make sure the dungeons themselves are good though, seeing as that’s all you’ve got.

          Sacred 3 is what happens when you cut out one and put no effort into the other.

          • Wulfram says:

            The open world is inherently bland. It’s made up of all the bits that any other form of entertainment would skip over to get to the good stuff.

      • MkMax says:

        sooooo you want to play Dragon’s lair

    • LintMan says:

      I agree with Wulfram about the loot churn; I don’t think getting rid of it is necessarily a bad idea. It just needs to be replaced by some other fun reward/progression mechanism, which obviously they didn’t do in Sacred 3.

      But honestly, I wouldn’t miss the grind, being at the mercy of the random number generator, or the endless comparing of “Are these boots better than those boots? These have +10 speed, +1 dex, and 12 armour, but those have +12 speed, 15% magic resistance, and 8 armour”. That stuff is fun at first, but it just gets old after a while.

      I can’t point to a better mechanism to replace it, but I think it’s possible. Perhaps something that has an incredibly, extremely rich stats/abilities/skills upgrade and leveling system where killing the baddies constantly earns you points to spend in it in meaningful ways.

  13. botty says:

    I created my very first guild on Sacred 1. Oh christin’ Christ, the memories.
    I really can’t play this genre with 3D graphics though, it feels weird. I think

  14. trjp says:

    Y’know I’ve watched that and a couple of other videos and the game itself looks – well – it’s looks OK – and that’s possibly going to hurt some people in the wallet!?

    You’d love to imagine that they could tweak the combat to actually work and be interesting – but I’m guessing that’s not likely??

    I can live without the “which hat is best” stuff – indeed replacing that with some skill-based content would be a GOOD thing – but obviously it needs to work…

    • Niko says:

      I’m all for the game where you can use your starter weapon for however long you want and weapon stores aren’t some medieval Walmarts (Dark Souls does something along those lines), but Sacred 3 isn’t the case, apparently.

  15. Dodj33 says:

    “Sacred 3 is £30 on Steam”

    no it seems to be £39.99

    Whilst Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II released a few months ago is £11.99, good game and great price

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    Simbosan says:

    Wonder if it’s dumbed down ready for mobile

  17. rei says:

    Quickly removed from my Steam wishlist before anyone notices it was there.

  18. Tatty says:

    It reminds me of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light with none of the polish, fun or jumping.

    Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a tenner. And great.

  19. djbriandamage says:

    I definitely would not call Sacred 1 a “generic but inoffensive click-a-thon”. It had an enormous open world with primary and secondary quests like you would find in an MMO or grander RPG, whereas most action RPGs are series of generally linear maps. It was also very gory with satisfying enemies to splatter. With the exception of some player character blather it all took itself rather seriously.

    I deem Ascaron’s first Sacred game to be the third best action RPG of its time after Diablo and Titan Quest. It would remain more relevant today if only it could be played at resolutions above 1024×768, but an exceptional game remains within and it’s a wonder to explore.

    • dE says:

      Oh yes, the quest design was grand.
      “Hello generic half-naked Action Hero. I’ve got this letter you need to deliver to Baron Schnarbelkarkel asap”
      “Oh, hey, we’re kinda in the middle of something, but a letter you say? My, my, bring my response to Count Tuskentuken”
      “Yep, that’s me. A letter? Aye, aye. Response here, bring it to Ranger Fieveldingen”
      “Gosh this letter looks like it got around, you know what, let me write a new one. Send it to Baron Schnarbelkarkel but he’s in City Generitonia now”
      “New place, old quests, still got that letter? Aye you kinda need to… why are you throwing spells at me?”

      Grand Questdesign.

      • djbriandamage says:

        I meant to comment more on the quest chain structure than the quest design. Most ARPGs have you get a quest at the beginning of a level and redeem it further along the line, but Sacred would have you go to a point on the open world. It’s a fine distinction but there’s a degree of randomness added to an open world versus a crafted straight line.

    • Archonsod says:

      I actually preferred Sacred to Diablo. Loved Sacred II too. Absolutely no interest in this.It’s the open world that’s key, at least for me. Sacred had this huge open world to explore, and there were often a lot of interesting things to find off the beaten path. It lent it a great sense of place, and it was often fun just to dip into to see what you could find. Yeah, the sidequests tended to stick with fairly dull fetch and carry or kill X quests, the levelling and loot system were the usual tedium for ARPGs, but it still had a remarkable sense of joy in exploration missing from your usual dungeon crawlers.

  20. botonjim says:

    John Walker is BACK bitches.

  21. Koozer says:

    At least it looks quite nice. The art department need to stage a coup de’tat and defenestrate the designers and writers.

  22. Metalhead9806 says:

    It looks like its completely designed for console and a gamepad… disappointing considering Sacred is a PC arpg series.

    I will say its a shame this ended up badly. The graphics, combat animations and enemies look really nice. If this had a point to click system, used this engine to make a open world and put in basic loot, inventory and a skill system it would have probably rivaled other arpg on the market.

    I guess that would have been to much for them. Oh well.

    • derbefrier says:

      FYI Sacred 2 came out on consoles so it really shouldn’t be a surprise here. The surprise is that even though sacred 2 was made with consoles in mind(I presume) it was still a decent arpg that was fun. I don’t know what happened here but consoles had nothing to do with it

      • Metalhead9806 says:

        A lot of PC focused games go to console. Doesnt make them any less of a PC game.

        • Archonsod says:

          Sacred II was designed from the beginning for the Xbox. Hence the ‘weird’ control scheme.The port was to the PC rather than the other way around.

          • malkav11 says:

            As far as I can tell, Sacred II’s PC control scheme was pretty much the same as Sacred 1 (which was definitely designed for PC first, seeing as it never came out on console), it’s a European game released first in that territory (which is very PC-centric), it came out in 2008 on PC and 2009 on console, and there was an expansion that only came out on PC. So the idea that it was designed for console and then ported to PC seems rather unlikely. The console control scheme was definitely more sensible, though.

  23. randomkeyhits says:

    Looks like they examined everything I liked from the Sacred games and then removed it all, surgically.

    Had a peek in the Dark Matter forums to see how the real Sacred die-hards were taking it , not so good unsurprisingly but it did have an interesting lead.

    The original team or at least part of it think they can do a better Sacred 3 than what we now have and have started to go through the crowd funding route. Not sure about the game name but their site is over at http://www.unbended.zone/en/

    I may just pledge on this one, not only as they seem to understand what I want from an ARPG but because it would be a first to buy my own tombstone in game :)

  24. Premium User Badge

    Foosnark says:

    I kind of liked Sacred 2 for its wackiness. The machine-gun blowdart lady and the robot jackal with a monowheel. Blind Guardian. The goblins that said “shneeple.” The… well honestly that’s pretty much all I remember.

    Diablo 2 > Titan Quest > Torchlight 2 > Diablo 1 > Sacred 2 > Diablo 3 (*) > Fate

    (*) at release. I haven’t tried the expansion or post-auction house stuff yet, and I’m waiting a bit before I do, but I understand it was an improvement.

    • Premium User Badge

      quietone says:

      You forgot Sacred the first, b ut other than that I’d marry you.

  25. Jason Moyer says:

    So they took out the boring looting (don’t get me wrong, I love finding new stuff in Torchlight or Borderlands, but in other Diablo-likes you might as well be watching numbers get bigger), the boring open world, and designed it to be played with a controller. That actually kind of makes me interested in checking it out when it’s cheap. Are there good boss fights, at least? That would at least tip it in the direction of Ys/Bastion/DS3, all of which I enjoy far more than Diablo.

  26. bill says:

    So, worse than Myst?

  27. Laurentius says:

    I watched a video and I can’t see what’s so bad about it, of course it’s arpg and for me it means that at its core it’s utterly boring clickfest but for the life of me I don’t see why is it so much worse then Van Helsing or Dungeon Siege 3.
    I don’t even know what constitutes rubbish game anymore.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      If only someone had written some sort of words describing what’s wrong with it. An…article, if you will.

  28. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    I… guess the writers were trying to do a Borderlands 2 thing? Where there are characters saying funny things at you while you fight dudes?

    I wonder at what point they realized that more or less serious lines delivered in a superficially sarcastic/wacky way are not actual jokes. They had to have been cognizant of that before the game was finished, surely?

    What’s sad is that the core gameplay loop looks like it maybe could have been serviceable, in a Dynasty-Warriors-meets-Gauntlet sort of way. The art and animations are nice enough, and based on other videos I’ve seen, the game doesn’t appear to play nearly so awfully on a gamepad. It was never going to be great, obviously, but it could have been a harmless little beat-‘em-up with a light progression system, maybe for ten bucks on a handheld.

    It’s just that almost everything surrounding that core loop – up to and including the implication that this is a proper sequel to Sacred 2 and the absurd premium pricing – is both horribly done and a bad fit for the type of game this thing so clearly wants to be.

    • Ryuuga says:

      Yeah, this is the part of Borderlands 2 that should be shot, gored, skewered as a kebab and dropped in the Mariana trench. Ever trying to outdo the unfun jokes with worse melodrama, randomly killing off NPC characters to try and squeeze some annoyance out of the player, it’s a bonanza of outrageously dull drivel. And it never wants to shut up even for 30 seconds. It’s like that drunk retard that never wants to stop shouting at the top of his lungs on the subway.

      Really, the story / voiceover for that game.. It’s Olympic-level annoying. With voice-over turned off, it’s a passable shooter. Shame nobody else tried for the shoot-n-loot genre except Gearbox. Have yet to find a co-op that suits me and my friend better, despite the above complaints, and the way the managed to endullen the guns in the second installment.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        You come off as a very boring/bored person. And over-dramatic.

      • Niko says:

        Butt Stallion says hello.

      • Philomelle says:

        Your rant lacks a brazen claim that Handsome Jack was supposed to be a likeable character. As such, I give it the same score that John has given Sacred 3.

      • Premium User Badge

        ffordesoon says:

        BL2 had jokes, though. Maybe they weren’t jokes you liked, but they were jokes.

        This is a thousand times worse because it’s trying to do the BL2 thing without writing any jokes. It’s mostly just bog-standard game dialogue spoken in a superficially wacky way, with the occasional addition of a “lol random” comedy premise that is never expanded upon.

        • Ryuuga says:

          Right, yeah, I can’t say that tempts me to play it. Much as they were hit and miss, the constant babble of Borderlands 2 would not have been helped by removing the jokes.. and honestly, some of it worked. I still kinda liked the bits with Scooter.

          Really, tho – I seem to recall that there was a different creative lead for the sequel, but I also feel it worked better in the first game just because there was less of it. Not necessarily much better, just not as much of it, not a constant barrage.

          Anyway. Enough off topic. I guess I am wont to unleash a torrent of abuse on the Borderlands 2 voiceover first chance I get.

  29. derbefrier says:

    Well this is dissapointing. I was planningon buying this as I enjoyed sacred 2

  30. rpsKman says:

    No Blind Guardian? :/

    • dE says:

      They fell far but even they didn’t want to be associated with this…

  31. MkMax says:

    it is still presented in enforced multiplayer

    … oh boy… how the hell did we get here ?… what the hell is happening with gaming ?, sigh

    • Wulfram says:

      Sacred 2 was the same IIRC

      • Archonsod says:

        Nope, Sacred II had single player. In fact they actually removed one of the multiplayer components compared to Sacred I (Online / Online Hardcore / Single went to Online / Single).

  32. Erastoinen says:

    Click-to-move is horrible, horrible design that is holding back the entire genre, so I was kinda looking forward to Sacred 3 for getting rid of it. A pity to hear that the game itself is such rubbish.

    • Lionmaruu says:

      I Agree, I really hate clicky games…

      I would play these kinds of games more if I could use my xbox controller I actually played a lot of torchlight and torchlight2 but I was hopping the latter had controller support, it is a kind of game that’s easy to play with a controller without losing nothing on gameplay.

      but this game looks awful anyway…

    • Baines says:

      Was going to say the same myself in reply to John’s comment.

      Particularly as these types of games move more towards action, click-to-move when combined with click-to-attack/mouse-aim increasingly does more harm than good.

    • socrate says:

      I really never got why people complain about that and then mention that controller support would help….controller are just soooo limited and people that claim Diablo 2 had no tactic and were just a click fest never actually went endgame and just played normal then quit or quit before even finishing it.

      The reality is that Diablo 2 as tons of movement involved in dodging attack and fighting and positioning…and if you break your mouse by playing diablo 2 you are doing it wrong…whats the difference in click and holding compared to a controller which you will have to also hold the damn joystick till your thumbs bleed out with the pressure…i swear most gamer these days have the brain power of a snail.

      In TONS of freaking game you use movement input constantly,i really don’t get why hack and slash get bashed like that constantly when other game have constant tedious and repetitive movement and they don’t get any hate whatsoever.

      • Premium User Badge

        wengart says:

        Largely because ARPGS tend to have an absurd amount of fluff before you get to the point you need to pay attention to where/how you move. To get to the point where things are hard in Diablo you need to beat it at least once if not 2-3 times.

  33. namad says:

    sacred 3 might be rubbish but I’m quite sure sacred 1/2 weren’t.

    yes the writing in sacred1/2 is downright awful but the mechanical depth and even art work of the games is quite good. Yes they were less polished than d1/d2 but they offered some interesting gameplay for arpg grinding for players who weren’t bothered about cutscenes or writing and just wanted to an endless and deep arpg grind.

  34. Jenks says:

    I loved Sacred 2 for the open world / freedom it gave you. Sadly I didn’t play the first.

    I don’t really care for the ARPG genre overall, but I’d say it was my favorite after Diablo 1 and 2.

    I assume they made Sacred 3 WASD rather than click movement to simplify porting to or from the consoles. I welcome that change, click to move is awful.

  35. Premium User Badge

    neofit says:

    Street-fighter / manga-ish type of combat, no loot, no open world. I was willing to ask about how bad the save system was, but after the video I won’t even bother. Not even on a Steam sale.

  36. mr.black says:

    Interesting video, John! So british. I always thought you’d sound different.

  37. frogulox says:

    It seems like they’ve made a (poor?) FPS, wasd controls, mouse aim etc, with rpg lite elements bolted on the side. But then they ripped the camera out of your head and threw it through the ceiling.

  38. datafiend says:

    Sounds like a get once the price drops. Hell it isn’t like the previous Sacred games were anything to write home about.

  39. tsff22 says:

    God, just LOOKING at this disgraceful excuse for a Sacred game makes me ill.

    Thank god I have Sacred 1 Gold and Sacred 2 Gold to help me blot out this abomination from my memory.

    What the hell happened to you, Deep Silver? You used to be cool with Dead Island and Risen. Now you’re churning our rehashes like Risen 2, publishing blatantly unfinished drek like Ride to Hell, and now you’ve completely bastardized my favorite arpg. What the hell happened to you, man?

  40. waltC says:

    We *all* know what this mutation from the Seven Hells of the Visigoth barbarians actually is, right? Surely, there can be no further doubt. It’s *shudder* a South-Korean take on a Japanese rendition of “Diablo III in Mainland China, as It Happened,” according to a colony of North Vietnamese old men living in North Korea, who wrote it all down for the sake of posterity and the frothing-mad Dictator of North Korea, Kim eel Kok, who, incidentally, recently ripped out his own tongue and nailed it to his palace door after declaring it guilty of the charge of “lying without state permits and sanctions.” The game itself might have fared better had he not just the week before have taken a pair of sheep sheers to his own ears and removed them because he thought they had obstructed his “enjoyment of the game’s soundtrack and cool sound effects.”

  41. Muenzmacher says:

    Dear John,

    I’m sorry that you had to play this stuff, so we don’t have to.
    Award yourself with some quality game time.

  42. Premium User Badge

    dahauns says:

    Hm. Hmm. Did you try the game from the Gauntlet angle? I.e. playing with 2-4 Players and Joypads?

    It seems that using the Sacred name and trying to shoehorn a click-to-move/attack mechanic in a game that quite obviously wasn’t meant for it was a horrible choice…

    (With the Gauntlet remake around the corner at 20€ on steam it’s still way overpriced though)

  43. Sinfullyvannila says:

    That core of Action RPGs, the compulsive, adorable chase for improved swords, hats and potions, is entirely gone. And replaced by nothing. Sacred 3 perhaps isn’t an ARPG. It’s a sort of nothingy-space.

    I take issue with that generalization. “ARPGs” don’t need a loot chase. There are plenty of them that get along fine without it. That’s a Diablo-clone specific thing, not a generalized ARPG thing.

    That said, Sacred is a Diablo-clone, so it’s a legitimate gripe.

  44. HisDivineOrder says:

    A game so bad you want it to experience the bad so you can tell your children that you were there when Sacred 3 came out and redefined the meaning of bad design.

    For there are many bad games that come along because they have lots of bugs or missed something obvious.

    But to willfully design a bad game and do it well? Never before or since will it ever be done so well as Sacred 3.

  45. Superabound says:

    Titan Quest is still the best of the genre. By far.