Hack-and-slashers tread carefully through the lands of Sacred, where the world itself is threatened by a veritable host of demons, set loose by a powerful but misguided sorcerer. A combat-driven adventure in the basic style of the popular Diablo games, Sacred offers a number of enhancements and unusual features that are new to the realm of action-RPGs. Players choose from six distinct character types, all with significantly different abilities as well as their own storylines and starting locations. These heroes can learn to ride horses and string together power combination attacks, and some may behave very differently as the game world cycles from day to night.
Playable characters include the burly gladiator, the agile wood elf, and the sneaky dark elf, as well as the angelic seraphim, the versatile battlemage, and the vampire, who appears as a noble knight during the day but commands the powers of her undead legacy at night. The world of Sacred is designed to encourage open exploration and freestyle progression, as the majority of the game's areas are accessible to player characters from the start. Each town in the game world is designed to have its own personality and player missions; characters who manage to accomplish all of a town's missions become true heroes there. Graphics feature 3D-rendered characters against hand-painted backgrounds, with three zoom levels.
It's that time of year again, a time when the forces of evil are converging to destroy the world, and it's your job to stop it. This time the world is Ancaria and the game is Sacred, from Germany-based Ascaron Entertainment. Sometimes being a hero feels like a full-time job.
You can select one of six character types in Sacred, including the gladiator, seraphim, and dark elf. You can't choose the gender of your character, so if you wish to play the dark elf, for example, your character is always male. The game starts in a different place depending on the character type you selected. The gladiator starts in the arena, while the dark elf begins play near a cave. After that, the quests seem to be the same regardless of which race you choose.
Sacred's game-world is huge, and most of it is available to the player from the beginning. As you wander around, you'll come across dozens of randomly generated quests. Most are small and within a short distance from the quest giver. The quests vary and include delivery scenarios, rescuing a person or group of people and eliminating an enemy or group of enemies. Some of the quests have time limits, usually of a day. Bugs can make it impossible to finish certain quests, even after you've completed the actual goal. Fortunately, these bugs seem to only come about in the randomly generated quests, not the main goals, so you shouldn't come across any game-stopping bugs this way.
Most of the game-world takes place above ground, so if you were hoping for huge, complex, multi-level dungeons, you're going to be in for a real disappointment. The monsters also regenerate constantly, which can be a huge issue when you can't stock up on enough potions to reach an area far away. You'll go a little ways, find you're running out of healing potions before you ever reach the goal, return to the town to grab the small available stock of those potions, and then try yet again to reach your goal, only to find almost as many monsters in your way as before. It would have been nice if the merchants had infinite potions or eased off of the regenerating monsters. By doing neither, Sacred just becomes unnecessarily difficult, and not in a fun way. You'll probably find yourself running or riding past hordes of monsters in the hopes of saving your potions for the later, quest-related battles.
Sacred game manages to implement a few unique ideas that give it a few more RPG elements than your standard action/RPG. You can buy horses to make your travels across the great realm of Ancaria and saddles to improve your mount's chance of staying alive. You can also fight on horseback, and you'll even gain some special mounted abilities such as the charge attack. One of the skills you can improve is riding, which allows you to ride better horses.
Another interesting idea is that of the combat arts. One of the important elements of the character type you select in Sacred is to determine which of the various combat arts you're allowed access to. Combat arts are found in the game, either randomly or as treasure for completing certain quests, and allow you to do things such as attack several opponents at once, deal a serious blow to one opponent, or suck the soul from a creature for health. For the spellcasting heroes, these combat arts can include spells and spell-like abilities. Certain NPCs are also capable of combining your combat art moves into combo chains for a small fee of gold. These combos allow you to easily perform several moves one at once, though the time the combos need to recover is long. When you find combat arts you can't use, you can exchange them for those you can.
Other than quest bugs, one of Sacred's most annoying problems is that the controls don't respond all the time. Sometimes you'll try to attack, but your character will just stand there, for reasons you can't determine. Other times, your combat arts just won't work, even when you've gotten them to work in the past. The game also seems to occasionally lose the last move of a combo chain after you've exited the game and restarted.
Sacred includes a robust multiplayer element, including LAN, closed Internet, and open Internet (closed Internet limits game options, but offers better protection against cheaters). You can select cooperative play of the main storyline, or hack-and-slash and player-vs.-player modes. Cooperative play is limited to four players, while the other two modes have a sixteen-player limit. The different game types are very enjoyable, and if you have a decent Internet connection or a LAN you'll find the game to be a much better experience than in single-player mode. As it stands, a patch has been released for the game, which you'll need to install in order to join current Internet servers (although LAN play works fine if you all have the same version).
If you're a fan of the action/RPG genre, you might find something to enjoy in Sacred.
People who downloaded Sacred have also downloaded:
Seal of Evil, SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars, SpellForce: Shadow of the Phoenix, Diablo 2, Shadow Vault, Nox, SpellForce: The Order of Dawn, Neverwinter Nights 2
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