When we talk about hack & slash, every game has to be compared to that benchmark that goes by the name Diablo.
It isn't easy to emulate the feats of a game that has virtually created a genre. Yet, back in 2004, Sacred tried to become a title inspired by that extraordinary saga.
Despite the small budget, the result was decent. The game was characterized by a gameplay certainly not original, with the same attention to the weapons and armor of the series from Blizzard, but with a dynamic exploration that was infinitely greater. In other words, the world of Sacred was immense, and exploring every corner of it took dozens of hours of gameplay. A commendable success, considering the resources that Ascaron - developer of the title - had at their disposal.
It was followed by a unlucky sequel, released in 2009, that saw the closure of the original development studio. Yet, Deep Silver loved this franchise to the point of acquiring the license and producing a third title, which we saw in action at this year's Gamescom.
The first important change that makes Sacred 3 different from its two predecessors is, in fact, a reduction in the concept. If Sacred and Sacred 2 were characterized by a massive exploration, the third chapter has opted to split the game into levels.
In all likelihood, this decision will see devotees of the saga turn up their noses. After seeing the game, however, we immediately understood how this choice has a positive impact on the environments. In the two levels that we were shown, we saw breathtaking scenery. In a level set on platforms suspended over a cliff, the backgrounds almost looked like watercolour paintings.
This brings us to the second big change of the game: the graphical style. Sacred 3 has in fact abandoned the realistic/medieval style of the first two games, a move that visually makes the game closer to Diablo. The characters and scenery are creative, colourful but no less fascinating. Indeed, the transition to a more fantasy world does nothing but enhance the graphics of the game and allows designers to use a "poetic license" in many aspects, particularly in the design of the enemies and in the animations.
Regarding the gameplay, the cooperative aspect of the game remains crucial. Two players, in fact, can combine their abilities to give rise to long and powerful combos, which are critical when dealing with large groups of enemies. The developers have stated that the game is meant to be played in multiplayer, since the presence of players controlled by the CPU can not guarantee the same efficiency of human players.
The choice of the class, finally, is decisive: developers have attempted to vary the experience by including very different classes, which affect the game in a very important way. Each class, in fact, allows completely different approaches to the level and permits you to expand the exploration of the levels. Some secret passages, in fact, can only be opened by a specific class: a further argument in favour of a weighted multiplayer.
With over 100 hours of gameplay, Sacred 3 is certainly the most impressive game of the saga. Although the developers have eliminated the element of the first open-world games, there are still all the ingredients to make for a long-lived adventure. The change in the graphic style of the game seems to make the game extremely modern. The release is scheduled for 2013 and, at the moment, we are very confident as to the results.