Sacred 3 is a shallow, repetitive, uninspired and poorly designed hack and slash brawler that you can totally do without.
The first Sacred stood out as one of the best Diablo clones you could find and the hack and slash brawler came out at a time where most role-playing games were slower in pace and single-player experiences. At its core, Sacred 3 shares many similarities with Blizzard’s action-RPG series, but as soon as you start playing you’ll notice it that this game quickly deviates from the Diablo formula. So much in fact that even comparing both games makes Diablo a disservice.
In Sacred 3, you need to select one of four character classes which include warrior, archer, paladin or lancer. As you’d expect, each of them comes with its unique set of abilities and combat styles, but regardless of which class you choose, your moves are pretty much the same: you can perform heavy and light attacks, a shield-breaking attack, you can roll, grab or throw opponents and use special abilities called Combat Arts (read: powerful spells.) Also, when you face certain bosses, there are quick time events or simplistic mini-games of mashing buttons to restrain them which adds nothing to the experience and quickly feels repetitive and dull. Finally, there are companions known as weapon spirits which grant you an added percentage to some attributes (such as 30% added to your critical hit) and you find more of them as you progress trough the game.
To be clear, the combat is just a colorful mess of sparks and bright slashes. When there’s a lot happening on the battlefield, it’s almost impossible to know what’s exactly going on, since you’ll barely be able to distinguish enemies from your character. But you don’t need to know what’s going on around you since defeating enemies is an exercise of alternating between heavy and light attacks until nothing moves. When you face a boss at the end of a level, you’ll probably add a special attack to the mix because these powerful attacks speed the process, but that’s about as deep as Sacred 3’s combat becomes.
As you defeat the enemies that populate the linear environments, you level up and collect health orbs, but you don’t get loot which is a serious problem for a game of this kind. To be clear, you can upgrade your weaponry and equipment, but this happens automatically when you defeat certain bosses. In a way, Sacred 3 doesn’t give you reasons to keep playing: there’s no loot, the story’s minimal, defeating enemies is a matter of mashing the same buttons again and again, the path is linear and the characters insist on repeating the same lines of dialogues.
Level design is lacking and there’s never a true sense of exploration, since you’re always follow a linear path. Sacred 3 is a series of overly linear missions that are tied together by a generic story (it involves defeating the dictator of the Ashen Empire, Zane Ashen and keeping him from obtaining a relic known as the Heart of Ancaria or something like that.) In between missions, you’re sent to a lobby where you can join other player’s games or create your own, change the difficulty or move on to the next mission. Apart from the main story missions, you’ll come across some sidequests that involve defeating waves of enemies, but everything seems is disconnected from everything else.
There are some light role-playing game elements: you can spend the gold you obtain in the missions to improve your equipment and skills, but that’s about it. Each item you own has a series of upgradable paths and the be part is that their properties stack up which means that you can combine them in some creative ways. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t encourage you to be creative, since the changes you make don’t make a difference. Also, the game doesn’t explain the upgrade process and I found it by chance while checking the menus on the lobby.
Unless you level up for hours, some of the latter levels are really difficult to play on your own and to a certain extent, that’s understandable. The developers want you to play online with other people, but my experience online wasn’t satisfactory most of the time. If you don’t manage to find somebody physically close to your location, the lag will sour your experience, so your best option is to play with a few friends and coordinate attacks against enemies, otherwise you won’t be able to finish the game playing solo.
To conclude, Sacred 3 is an underwhelming and disappointing action role-playing game. Playing on your own is a dull and repetitive experience, playing with others isn’t any better due to lag, the story is minimal, the NPCs utter the same lines of dialogue over and over, there’s barely any loot to pick up and mashing the attack buttons for hours isn’t any fun. If you enjoy action hack and slash games, you could do better than Sacred 3. This is a shallow, repetitive, uninspired and poorly designed hack and slash brawler that you can totally do without.