I'm sure that I've said it before on occasion, but sometimes, bad games can be good. Not awful games, mind you (I'm not going to tell anyone to pick up Vampire rain or Leisure Suite Larry: Box Office Bust). So maybe it's better so say that mediocre games can be a blast, if they eschew all pretension for basic gameplay features. It's similar to what the guys are talking about in their discussion of Just Cause 2. As for me, I'm playing through Sacred 2 on Xbox 360, and I don't know that I've ever encountered a game that delights in its ridiculousness quite so much.
For those who may of missed the game when it came out last year - I'm guessing most of you - it's basically a Diablo-style hack-and-slash RPG, in which you pick your character class, explore the world, complete basic quests, get loot, and level up. There's really no story to speak of, or, if there is, I am fully unaware of what it might be. I first realized something was different about this one when I started reading gravestones that contained nothing but bad, terrible puns. Then, when my character began speaking his catchphrases: "I used to either destroy or save villages, depending on my orders," "I am your ultimate fate," etc. I figured out that this game did not take itself seriously at all. As some of the reviews Deadly Premonition have shown, a stupid game that knows it's stupid can be a blast.
I wasn't too sure about Sacred 2 - after all, every bad pun makes my inner child die a bit - until I ran into a random quest called "blind guardian" in which I found myself picking up instruments in random caves. After completing about 5 quests in the line, I was inexplicably treated to this video:
Mind you, this quest was entirely random, and incredibly easy to miss or ignore. So after hearing an epic power metal theme song for this strange fantasy game, I was hooked in. It was made even better by getting Medieval guitar axes to use against enemies that sound like the guitars from Dead Rising.
But as for the subject of this post: sometimes the most simple games can be a blast. Sacred 2 has made a Diablo-style game work well on the console by stripping almost everything complicated out of the game. Yes, there is still loot, special attacks, stat points, and the like, but it's all contained in a few small menus. Because the game is graphically very basic, the game can support a ridiculously large overworld. I've been playing it for around 15 hours or so, and I doubt I've covered 15% of the Map. In other words, there's a lot to do here. Again, there's no superimposed narrative, no story-based drive; hell, I don't know if I'm supposed to be saving the world or not.
Make no mistake, this game is not great. The graphics are relatively weak, it's buggy, and the game doesn't care to really inform you of what's going on. But after playing "deep" titles like Heavy Rain, Final Fantasy XIII, Dragon Age: Awakening, and Demon's souls, I found generic and quirky to be just what I needed. In a way, it's totally a guilty pleasure, but I'd definitely recommend it. If any of you are playing it, or want to, I'd be happy to join or have you along.
As an open question to GB, are there any other games like this that you guys have encountered?