Wheel of Dubious RPGs Episode 003: Sacred

Welcome back to the most horrifying, terrifying, mystifying, thing on the internet to feature a wheel of chaos since that ill-fated Giant Bomb feature where they pretended to play Donkey Kong 64! It's a bit of a short one for today, because it turns out I don't have much to say about

Sacred

Sacred is the living embodiment of a mid-2000s video game critic's 7/10
Sacred is the living embodiment of a mid-2000s video game critic's 7/10

Release Date: March 19, 2004. Underworld Expansion: Aug 2, 2005 (PC)

Developer: Ascaron Entertainment GmbH

Time Played: About 90 minutes (Hey, did a game make me immediately break my "two stream minimum" rule? Sure did!)

Dubiosity: 2 out of 5 (mostly for how much of a pain in the ass it was to get the game running at a reasonable frame-rate and that time I got stuck in level geometry)

Diablo-esque games on the wheel I would've rather played instead: Dungeon Siege III, Nox, Lionheart, and now Dungeon Lords.

Would I play more? NOOOOPE. It's too competent and not weird enough to be on the wheel, but it's too mediocre to be exciting to play in another context.

Given the era in which it was developed and the continent it was developed on, I had higher expectations for Sacred than a drably competent loot-em-up. I think it might be the first game too boring to deserve a spot on the wheel. Indeed if not for the intervention of a friendly, helpful fan of the game in my chat I probably wouldn’t have gotten past the rather… disastrous frame-rate I was encountering before I downloaded a fix, and it probably wouldn’t have been played at all. And honestly? I think I might’ve preferred that.

Tip to toe, that's a Diablo.
Tip to toe, that's a Diablo.

It’s probably a little weird to react so strongly to a game like Sacred, which seems like an entirely inoffensive, low-friction, open world-ish refinement of Blizzard North’s staggeringly influential Diablo II, but I think my general level of tolerance for these sorts of games is critically low. I’ve been on the record as finding Diablo III’s ultra-streamlined, mildly banal firehose of loot where “the numbers go up” to be a few steps too close to clickers for my liking, while Path of Exile’s nightmare sphere grid skill tree and endless endgame build variety are both too intimidating and demanding of my time to warrant serious investment. It’s difficult to hook me on this stuff in the best of circumstances, unless you base your endless loot treadmill around a more compelling gameplay loop (see: Monster Hunter, Destiny) or hit the exact right balance for me in terms of skill progression, loot progression, and overall difficulty to catch my interest.

Sacred leans a little closer to the “streamlined” camp of post-Diablo 2 loot-n-scoots, with abilities based around cooldowns instead of mana, and quality-of-life additions like mounts and an auto-loot key, but it doesn’t do anything weird or interesting enough to be truly dubious. Some unorthodox character classes, like a vampire knight, demoness, and two flavors of elf, but those aside there doesn’t really seem to be much of a hook for an enterprising dubiomancer to conjure any entertaining blog or stream fodder from it. For my case, I spent the better part of 90 minutes using the Battle Mage’s basic fireball spell on hordes of goblins, roughly two seconds at a time, occasionally upgrading my armor and weapons and kind of wishing I had put Divine Divinity or Beyond Divinity on here instead. Maybe it would be more fun with a different class and/or with more people along for the ride, but at that point I might as well play something from the same genre that does everything better.

As always, you can follow my dumb antics and watch stream archives on my Twitch page. Still haven't figured out what I want to do with my full recordings once the archives leave twitch, but I don't really want to put a bunch of unedited two hour streams on YouTube.

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Lands of Lore IIIAdded: Anachronox, Dungeon Lords. Removed: SacredTwo Worlds
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