Sacred 3 Preview: So Much of the Same

Oooh boy. It’s hard to cast judgement on a game that I didn’t get any hands-on time with, but during the 15-minute presentation of Sacred 3, it was pretty apparent that Deep Silver showed their entire hand. Their entire, simplistic, copycat hand. Only out of professional respect did I not let the PAX Prime exhaustion pull me into dream land and collapse onto the plush carpeting of the presentation room.

Sacred 3
Developer: Keen Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release date: TBA 2013

Sacred 3 is an isometrically-viewd, loot-oriented, hack-n-slash action RPG. It looks beautiful, doesn’t appear broken, and has the token barbarian and scantily-clad amazon warrior. It may turn out to be one of Keen Games’ best projects, but that doesn’t change the fact that it offers little originality. Even our presenter had a certain mocking tone to his voice (indicating that he was aware of how cliche some of the game’s aspects were), describing the main male character as “steroid-filled” and how he and his companion will be “using their sharp weapons to slice and dice through the competition.”

I had to watch carefully, but there were some differentiating factors that separate Sacred 3 from its competitors. Co-operation and an emphasis on action seem to be main cruxes of Sacred 3. The two characters would use their different move sets in unison to perform combos on larger enemies. The female character would use a dash attack to knock down larger enemies, and the male character would perform an execution attack on the reeling foe.

At the end of the stage, we were shown the stats of both characters and the number of level objectives completed. This click measuring contest will undoubtedly lead to some friendly competition during levels, and the optional objectives will promote replay value. We were even told that there will be multiple routes through some of the levels. These aspects represent some of the few differentiating factors that I hope will help Sacred 3 stand out.

Aesthetically, the game was very appealing. Imagine a combination of the colors of Torchlight with the realistic design of Diablo. Every so often the isometric view would shift, showing us the beautiful background. In one area of the environment, enemies were even attacking from this background. Since the devs playing may have been in a rush, the distant foes were left alone, so we can’t say how much of a role the non-isometric view will play.

With Diablo, Torchlight, and even Lara Croft: Guardian of Light (the latter two of which are playable on consoles), I can’t help but think Deep Silver would be better served by jettisoning the Sacred franchise and putting their resources behind better, more original projects. With all due respect to the developer, Keen Games, the world doesn’t need another isometric hack & slash RPG – especially one that offers very little innovation.

Even so, a decent Diablo clone can succeed in its own right – take Torchlight, for example. Perhaps Keen Games and Deep Silver can replicate that kind of similar-but-different-enough success, and I’m rooting for them. Sacred 3 seems to be be a cleaner, more focused game than its predecessors, so it’s entirely possible that the console market will be quick to embrace it. From what I saw, though, I won’t let myself get excited until I see (and play) more.

Sacred 3 releases some time next year.

Game Front is on-site at PAX Prime all weekend (Aug 31-Sep 2), bringing you daily news, hands-on previews, interviews and pictures. Stay tuned for more PC gaming-focused coverage!

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