Review: Sacred 2 Gold

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Being a newcomer to the Sacred series, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded this one up. It definitely wasn’t a cinematic of knights and angels and necromancers and androids fighting over fantasy tech. And it wasn’t a character selection screen of all those disparate heroes and more. And it wasn’t being dumped into a massive, sprawling world of quests and secrets and snarky one-liners. Perhaps I was expecting something more like Diablo II or Titan Quest, but what I got was way bigger, way weirder, and something I’ve absolutely fallen in love with.

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I’m going to take a mulligan on explaining the story here, because it’s not really explained from the outset. Something’s going wrong in the fantasy land of Ancaria, that’s for sure, and your chosen hero is in prime position to make or break things. That’s no hyperbole, you can choose to quest for good or for evil (decided at character creation, so no takebacks) and then follow your calling through main quests for your specific character. The seven classes are wildly different as mentioned, from angels to dryads to warrior monks to undead warriors to some kind of Egyptian mechanical guardian thing with lasers.

There’s a lot crammed into this game, and the attention to detail shows right away. As an ARPG you’ll be running around beating loot out of monsters but while you can avail yourself of almost any weapon, virtually all your armor pieces and skill items are class-specific. I chose to be an inquisitor and load up on sinister hoods and grim pantaloons, but I keep finding energy cores for robots and dragon helms for summoners and it’s made me more curious than I’ve ever been about trying other classes. The skills are quite diverse as well, with my inquisitor alone having debuffing shouts, lightning from his fingertips, and brutal weapon combos.

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All of this is set in a mind-bogglingly huge world, with nearly a dozen regions and hours of exploring to do in each. While the gameplay is very much in the Diablo vein, the actual structure is honestly more akin to something like Oblivion or The Witcher. Aside from the main quests there are hundreds upon hundreds of side quests to find in towns and clearings, everything from finding lost teddy bears to murdering nobles to investigating crop circles. That last one touches again on the kooky, off-beat tone of Sacred, where things can get way weirder than standard fantasy and nothing is taken completely seriously. Your hero is going to spout off some amazing one-liners and enemies shout things like “I see a light… Imma walk into it!” when they die.

It’s the kind of game that can devour hours of your time with quests to chase and loot to snatch, but it’s definitely not without its shortcomings. Just getting it to run was a bit of a pain, and I ended up having to set it to windowed to prevent frequent crashes. It still crashes from time to time, honestly, but the autosaves are very frequent so little is lost. The movement and combat are both rather stiff, and can’t come close to the screen-shaking chaos of modern ARPGs. The camera doesn’t help with this either, the way it swings around drunkenly and gets stuck behind walls. And as deep as the item and skill systems are they’re never fully explained, leaving plenty of questions about what tooltips actually mean.

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I really should be giving Sacred 2 a more qualified recommendation, but honestly I love it. I love having a nigh-endless world to battle and quest in. I love how simple the combat is, even if it is stiff and I don’t get all the systems behind it. I love how silly the game can be, and how rewarding it is with its loot. It scratches all the itches that games like Morrowind and Pillars of Eternity did in terms of quests and development, while retaining the ease of play of something like Titan Quest. Sacred 2 makes me realize there’s huge potential for open-world ARPGs, and luckily it fulfills plenty of that potential on its own.

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