Sacred Plus Review

We look at this reworked version of Sacred.

Review by Rob Edmondson
Published 14th December 2004

Sacred Plus

  • Developer: Ascaron
  • Publisher: Ascaron
  • Release Date: 22nd October 2004

Despite the claims on the front of the box that this is not ‘just another Diablo clone’ there is little evidence to suggest otherwise in this RPG offering from Ascaron. However as seasoned gamers will know, Diablo was no bad game in itself and has been the inspiration to many subsequent RPG’s. Sacred is one of those that has not strayed far from the Diablo mould and is likely to appeal to fans of its action heavy seminal.

Sacred Plus is a rework of Sacred, which was released earlier this year to a mixed but generally positive reaction from the gaming public. With Sacred Plus, Ascaron have attempted to iron out the bugs that plagued the original and have thrown in a few new gameplay areas for good measure. While this may seem by some as just an excuse to cash in again on the game by releasing the product that should have originally been released, it should be noted that all the new content can be downloaded from the game’s website and that this is merely a release for those not fortunate enough to have broadband. Indeed owners of the original game – unless completest – have no need to part with their hard earned cash for this new release.

The story behind Sacred is probably the most complicated part of what is mostly a very simple game. It involves a wicked magician by the name of Prince Shaddar who was banished from the land of Ancaria by his fellow conjurers centuries ago. Recently however, Shaddar has attempted to summon a demon for reasons unknown to the rest of the world. Unfortunately for him though, this demon has turned against him and is now ravaging the lands of Sacred. This is where you come in. As an apprentice of your chosen class you must rise up to be a hero for the land and ultimately defeat Shaddar himself.

Unlike most RPG’s Sacred offers a very rigid selection policy for your game character. You can only choose one of six pre-set avatars with their ability points being fixed initially. Only through levelling up can you customise them to your liking. Firstly there is the gladiator, your typical melee fighter. Next in the line is the Seraphim, a user of light weapons and heavenly magic for players who prefer to weaken their foes from the distance before rushing in for the kill. Thirdly there is the Wood Elf, a proficient archer. Not to be outdone is the Dark Elf who likes to use cruel weapons such as traps and poison. Representing the main magic option is the Battle Mage who largely speaks for himself. Finally, and a first for RPG’s as far as I am aware, is the Vampiress. In a unique twist, this character actually changes during the day and night cycle. In the day she is an average warrior who is constantly weakened due to her dislike of the Sun, but at night she transforms into the strongest character in the game able to destroy most foes in seconds.

With the stage now set we move to the gameplay. The combat has been modified slightly from the original release but not so much that you’d be able to notice without a set of dice and a calculator. A lot of work has been done in eliminating the bugs from the quest system, which occasionally caused problems. For the uninitiated the gameplay in Sacred mainly involves running around the extremely large game map picking up quests and then completing them by eliminating all obstacles in your way in a bloodthirsty fashion and then either rescuing a NPC or capturing an item. The combat is simplicity itself, with a left click instructing your character to perform an ordinary attack and the right click set to do a special attack. The two attacks can be set in the main game screen and this eliminates the need for too many daunting menus. Thankfully one can hold down the attack button on an enemy for a continuous attack in what can only be described as a thoughtful contribution by the developers to lower the risk of acquiring repetitive strain injury. There is little skill in the combat and this is not helped by abysmal path finding, often leading to enemies getting stuck behind scenery and becoming easy picking. A further annoyance is when using a bow you often seem unable to shoot over the lowest of scenery removing a further tactical element from the game-play.

The game is set in a beautifully rendered 2D isometric world absolutely crammed with nice touches at every opportunity. You can see that Ascaron have taken a pride in their work and even more little details have been added in the Plus version. We already had an active wildlife system and other nice touches such as children pestering you in the towns and a fully working weather system, which changed to match the scenery. Now residents of towns carry torches at night to light the way adding a friendlier atmosphere to the game and the background lighting has been improved. Another detail to be noted is the cute combat graphics where your enemy can lose a limb or their head and if you zoom in close you can see a little spray of blood gushing out of the wound. The interiors of buildings are also impressive although unfortunately interaction is not usually possible. Even with all this it was still a disappointment for me to experience slow down on occasions on a high-end machine. This is after all a 2D game; performance should not be an issue.

The size of Ancaria is very impressive. It’s absolutely huge! So much so that the developers have chosen to add the ability to be able to travel on horseback to cover the distances. This is a great idea and further improved by allowing your horse to take part in combat. This works very well when you are a ranged character and gives you a quick means of escape.

Of course, with the release of Sacred Plus Ancaria has been further expanded with the two new regions being areas previously inaccessible on the map. The quests in these areas though are not significantly different from the missions in the original meaning new players are unlikely to realise they are new.

Finally, moving on to the audio, I have to say that I was largely unimpressed. The character sounds often feel inappropriate for the given situation and seem to be repeated all too regularly. Also the background music is average and you are often left with long periods of silence between tracks.

Readers of this review could feel that I was largely unimpressed with the game. However this is not the case. I was addicted again for days to the Plus version despite playing the original over half a year ago. The thing with Sacred is despite all its flaws it keeps you coming back for more and that for me is the sign of a quality RPG.

Review Score: 7/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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