Diablo and Diablo II have inspired a number of action-RPG clones and most of them have been, well, uninspired. These games have tried to capture the basics of Diablo without bothering to add anything new or to even give any thought as to what made Diablo so much fun in the first place. At first glance you may be tempted to lump Sacred in with all those also-rans, but youíd be making a mistake. While it wonít challenge Diablo for the action-RPG crown, it is a decent game in its own right and worth a look from you hack-n-slash fantasy game fans out there.
Sacred starts off by presenting you with a half dozen characters from which to choose to play. Most fall into the standard categories of fighter, mage, etc, but you also have the choice of playing as a vampiress or seraphim. The vampiress has the ability to turn creatures into undead allies while the seraphim is skilled with the sword and can make acrobatic attacks. Your starting location will vary slightly based on which character that you select to play, but the storylines quickly merge after that. Speaking of story, Sacred departs from most other games of its type by giving you a lot of freedom in pursuing quests. Youíre not herded from one story-driving quest to another in a preordained sequence. Instead you are free to explore Sacredís huge world and take on numerous side quests as you see fit. In reality, though, you canít wander too far a field since youíll have to gain valuable experience by completing the easier quests before youíre ready to face the nastier beasts that inhabit Sacredís world.
If youíre familiar with Diablo II, youíll find a lot of familiar touches in Sacred. Control is all mouse-driven, with left-clicks used to indicate where your character should go to and which creature should be attacked and right-clicks used to unleashed your readied special attack or spell. This is a simple control scheme but it is not without its quirks in Sacred. Your character will sometimes have trouble finding his or her way to the designated location if there are walls or other obstacles in the way. Youíll find that you can actually move around more quickly by taking a baby steps approach. There is also an issue with attack clicking in that your attack orders are sometimes ignored. Sometimes a click on an enemy wonít register, or your character will stop attacking in the middle of a fight. Holding the mouse button down doesnít ensure that your character will attack until the enemy is vanquished either. Be prepared to do a lot more clicking than you do in most games in this click happy genre.
Sacred uses a skill system similar to Diablo IIís that give you access to new attacks and spells. However, skills are not earned through experience but rather by finding tokens dropped by monsters or hidden in treasure troves. Some are class-specific but others can be used by all and there are also some tokens which improve an existing skill. Once used, a token disappears and youíre awarded with the corresponding new skill. With the help of a combo master, youíll even be able to combine skills to make new combo attacks.
The skill system is a good touch but there are a couple of minor problems with it. The first is that thereís no skill tree in Sacred, so enabling one skill will not preclude you from acquiring any other skill. While this leaves your character with the capability to acquire a greater skill set, it also means that you wonít be able to customize your character as much as you could in Diablo II. The second issue is that while new attacks and combos can come with their own animations, itís all pretty much for show. After acquiring a new skill you still attack by clicking on a monster except you do more damage than before. Thereís not much strategy to attacks here other than deciding which monster to click on first.