Sacred - Retro Reflections

It is a unique experience to trek in a virtual wilderness and face monsters armed with your sword, collecting treasure and becoming more powerful every day. That’s what you do in action/role playing games and I love it. Their basic story, simple control and repetitiveness make them ideal for spending hours without stress.

The same goes for Sacred. The story is the following: an ambitious mage makes a mistake and conjures a demon that spreads chaos in the land of Ancaria. Now you have to stop it but first, you must protect the prince, who falls victim to a conspiracy. Unoriginal and cliché, but who cares? All I want to do is select a character, travel to distant places and fight. And that’s exactly what you do in Sacred. You fight a lot, since every area is abounding with unfriendly critters which respawn after a few minutes! Thankfully, you have several abilities to use and shops often renew their merchandise to make your life easier.

Sacred has beautiful, detailed graphics. Enter, for example, a house and watch how carefully the furniture are drawn, or walk along a river shore and enjoy the colors. The scenery are 2-d and vary from deserts and forests to snowy mountain paths and volcanic plateaus. The models are 3-d, everything they wear –even rings!- changes their appearance and their animation is nice. The enemies are mainly robbers, orcs, beasts, undead and monstrosities such as spiders (which I really hate!). The weapons and armor are well designed and you have the option to zoom the camera in or out, depending on how far you want to be able to see.

To fight you use combat arts, divided in special moves and spells. If you apply one of them you don’t consume mana. Instead, you must wait for it to reload and be ready for activation again after a few seconds. So, if you cast a lightning bolt which requires 3 seconds to recharge, for the next 3 seconds you cannot cast any spell. However, you can use a special move. Combat arts are improved by using runes contained in chests or dropped by killed enemies. Each combat art can be raised only if you find the same rune· you can trade unwanted runes for the ones you need at a wizard’s shop. As a result, you can increase your special moves and spells faster than your character level. Have in mind that combat arts take longer to reload when you level them up, so you must find the right balance between frequent use and power. Thankfully, there are many items that lower the recharge time considerably.

Also, your character has attributes and skills. Attributes affect his/her melee damage, health, etc. Skills are crucial because they affect greatly how well you perform with certain types of weapons, your resistance to damage and chances of not getting hit, how fast you reload special moves or spells, etc.

The sound is nothing to write home about, although I admit I rarely remember the music of a game. I like the Seraphim’s voice and the sound of her lightning bolt though. The inventory screen is large and easy to handle. Your character’s statistics and equipment are always visible at the right of the screen and you can assign combat arts to buttons at the bottom, to have them ready for use. There is also a detailed world map that helps you find the next location of your main quest or side quest· it even shows where you completed previous missions and places of interest, such as shops and persons who want to talk to you.

The difficulty is not high, however enemies have two annoying abilities: a) They level up according to your character level (although in some areas they stop doing that after some time). b) Some of them, such as shamans and wizards, can hold you in a spot for a few seconds. This gives your assailants the opportunity to surround you and slows the pacing of the action. Another nuisance is the fact that monsters occasionally enter cities and attack while you walk in the streets! Bosses are not hard except for the dragons and the hideous giant spiders. The quests involve killing monsters, finding items and escorting people to safety. There are some henchmen but they are not helpful. Horses, on the other hand, are precious: they increase your speed and let you hit harder and faster, especially with a two handed weapon. I finished the game with the dwarf, whose back cannon fires devastating shots, and the sorcerer, whose fire ball is an all time classic. I played with the Seraphim and the Wood Elf too. The latter has the advantage of killing enemies before they can lay hands on her. The gorgeous Seraphim is weaker but I invested many runes in her ‘bfg’ and ‘energy bolts’ combat arts and transformed her into a deadly angel.

Sacred took a well known formula and added its own elements, creating something fresh and attractive. I spent many hours in the magical land of Ancaria and didn't regret it. Now, I plan to play the sequel too.

Article by Dimitris

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