As I mentioned in my Sacred 1 review, I’m playing through the 3 Sacred games back-to-back-to-back to get an idea of how the series has changed over the years. I hadn’t touched a Sacred game before deciding to play through the whole series, so it’s an interesting opportunity to see the pros and cons of each entry without the burden of rose-colored nostalgia glasses. Sacred 2 is definitely one of the stranger games in the series, being mediocre in just about every way, yet having been built up in fans’ minds as some kind of an underrated classic. It isn’t a classic, though, and it not only retains many of the first game’s flaws, but actually adds in plenty of its own. Put simply, Sacred 2 is an exercise in frustration.
The story is even worse than the first game’s
It’s amazing to me that any game could top the first Sacred in terms of bad writing, but Sacred 2 somehow does just that. Like in the first game, the main quest here is a lazy excuse to send you off on a bunch of fetch quests, but unlike the first game, it doesn’t even make an effort to pretend that what you’re doing matters. While you were fetching soldiers and uncovering badly-written betrayals in the first game, you spend much of Sacred 2 just moving from point A to point B, grabbing something in one place and then bringing it to another place. There’s a story about this T-energy stuff that you can save the world from or doom it with (depending on whether you play the “good” or “bad” campaign), but that’s mostly just something that gets tacked on toward the end. For most of the game, you’re finding missing children, taking stolen taxes from one place to another, finding archaeologists, and doing other similarly boring things that have nothing to do with anything.
It’s also completely devoid of conflict. In a part of the game that I swear exists, you enter a new territory only to be confronted by several warrior-types. “We respect warriors, so kill your friend to prove how much of a warrior you are before we let you into our land,” they demand. My so-called friend (in reality just a minor character I had met for the first time maybe a half hour earlier and who had received no actual character development) protests. The warriors respond by telling me that I’m loyal despite the fact that I had no actual input during this sequence, and that they respect loyalty, too. Of course, if both killing the friend and not killing the friend are equally acceptable ways of entering their land, then there’s no way to lose and these warriors are wasting their time. Little morsels of mind-numbing stupidity like that are littered throughout the entire game.
Its characters are also worse
I never thought that I would actually play through a game that made me long for the likes of Sacred 1’s Prince Valor, but here we are. Yes, he was a miserable character, but he actually had a personality, awful as it was. That’s more than any of the so-called characters in Sacred 2 can muster; like in the first game, most characters pop up and disappear without any characterization whatsoever, but their writing is so bland and their quests so overwhelmingly pointless and random that the whole game seems like it was cobbled together from a bunch of rejected sidequests from the first game. It really is that bad.
One of the redeeming qualities of the first Sacred was how awesome my vampiress character was, but in Sacred 2’s quest to be as mediocre and painful as possible, this class has been cut out and replaced. Since my go-to character was no longer an option, I decided to play as a Seraphim instead. Sadly, her character lacked the charm and humor of the vampiress, contributing nothing notable except for the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard in a game.
Bugs and issues
This game isn’t exactly stable, which I know for a fact because of how many times the game refused to start for no apparent reason. When I finally got it to start, I tried forcing antialiasing (which I do for most games these days without any problems), only to be met with the result above: almost total blackness. Of course, that was only the result when the game wasn’t crashing from the other antialiasing methods I attempted. I eventually had to settle for the game’s mediocre in-game antialiasing because nothing else worked with the game. Once I did, the game ran well enough most of the time, but it still crashed and refused to start on several occasions after that for no apparent reason.
Then there are the smaller bugs that are less catastrophic, but still indicative of the game’s general sloppiness. Sometimes quest markers would lead into empty fields instead of where I actually had to go, and certain “escort” sidequests were marked as failed in my log book even though I succeeded at them. There are also problems with transparency; whereas the first game consistently made scenery blocking your character disappear so that you could still see what was happening, Sacred 2 only does so half of the time, meaning you’ll often have to move your mouse around an area you can’t see anything in to attack enemies hiding under things like bridges. In fact, the camera situation in general is a disaster. For one, you’re not able to zoom way out like in the first game, which is incredibly inconvenient. The camera also had a weird tendency to pan to the right whenever I engaged someone in dialogue, often clipping into buildings and foliage until my character and the quest-giver were barely visible. You’re also more or less required to turn off the “follow camera,” which will twirl the camera around trying to follow you until you have motion sickness and completely lose your bearings.
The save situation is inexcusable
Sacred 2 is a multiplatform game, and the PC experience has been compromised because of this. Now, I’m not exactly one to cry “consolitis” or even care about things like that most of the time, but this is a game that has one save slot. As if that weren’t bad enough, the game frequently autosaves in that slot, meaning you have virtually no control over saves. Want to keep a backup save before you try to level up a certain way, just in case that new skill turns out to be less incredible than you expect? Too bad. This makes absolutely no sense in an aRPG, especially since the game’s buggy nature means that you can have your save game suddenly corrupt because of a crash and have nothing to fall back on.
Combat is decent enough
If you’ve played the first Sacred, you’ll feel right at home in Sacred 2 because of how similar the combat is. You still have an RPG-ish system of progression where you can upgrade your stats and skills when you level up, as well as “combat arts” that are leveled up by using expendable runes and activated by a right-click. Using combat arts still relies on a cooldown rather than a mana system. Items and their usefulness are just about identical, as well. The whole thing is pretty much copy-pasted from the first game with a few notable differences.
One difference is that you have “buffs” in your combat arts. You can have one activated by default whenever you’re not on a mount (you can have multiple buffs activated at once if you spend enough points on the requisite skill), and this can boost your stats somewhat at the expense of making your combat arts take longer to regenerate. It was a nice way of boosting my Seraphim’s damage, but it’s not exactly anything mind-blowing or game-changing. Another difference is that you have a special attack. In my Seraphim’s case, she had the ability to shine a really bright light and damage lots of nearby enemies. I imagine these attacks could be devastating if you invest in the right skills, but the cooldown was significant enough that I eventually ignored that attack altogether. The last difference I noticed was that every so often I’d be allowed to upgrade my combat arts on a skill tree. Combat arts in Sacred 2 are divided into different “schools,” and the school I invested the most into was able to be upgraded so that certain attacks did more damage. All of these things are needlessly confusing features that don’t really add much to the game, but you get used to them quickly enough.
Big is the enemy
The first Sacred had a world that was too big for its own good. Sacred 2 doubles down on that with an even larger world. Like in the first game, this hugeness of the world means that the bland fetch quests are that much more tedious. Who wants to spend 20 minutes on a fetch quest—and this is mandatory main story stuff we’re talking about, here—just riding from point A to point B?
While this game does portals much better than Sacred 1 (the expansion and gold version of Sacred 2 add the option to warp to an activated portal from anywhere, not just another portal like the first game), the game’s main quests almost exclusively send you out into unknown territory where you won’t have any activated portals to warp to. The result is that you’re forced to spend an inordinate amount of time just watching your character slowly travel across the screen.
In the first game, dying meant respawning at the nearest town. In Sacred 2, you instead respawn at the last activated “resurrection monolith,” which is basically a checkpoint. You’re able to press a key (f8 in my game) to teleport there automatically, which can occasionally be helpful, but you’re only able to have one monolith active at a time, so mistaking where the last one was and teleporting there can set you way back. It’s a clumsy system, to put it lightly. Why not allow the player to activate all resurrection monoliths and teleport to the nearest one? It makes no sense to only allow one to be active at a time.
The expansion doesn’t add much
The first game’s expansion added an actual story that occurred after the events of the main game. It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a welcome attempt at a story. Sacred 2’s expansion, on the other hand, seems to just add sidequests. I went to both of the new areas only to met with sidequest markers and finished a few of these sidequests to see if something bigger would open up, but nothing substantial seemed to be there beyond the new area with higher-level enemies. This was incredibly disappointing after seeing what the first game’s expansion brought to the table.
There’s no teleport cheat
I said in my Sacred 1 review that it would likely be a negative review if not for the teleport cheat that reduces the pain of traveling. This Sacred 2 review would be negative anyway, but the lack of any kind of teleport cheat definitely seals the deal. Yes, you’re forced to do all of the meaningless legwork of the game’s meaningless quests without the ability to speed things up like in the first game. It’s just one of many questionable omissions that make the second game less entertaining than the first in almost every way.
Bright, cheery, painful graphics
The graphics are certainly a step up from the first game overall, but somehow I found myself longing for the sprites of the first game. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the 3D models of Sacred 2, mind you, but they somehow lack the same kind of charm. I will say that the graphics as a whole are decent enough, with large boss monsters in particular being memorable and detailed, and new armor showing up on my Seraphim as I equipped it. However, her portrait never matched her appearance in the game after I customized her. While that’s understandable enough given the degree to which I personalized her appearance, she has a third look with green hair (see the screenshots) that looks nothing like either her portrait or appearance in-game, and this was incredibly confusing at first. In fact, I spent a good portion of the game thinking that I was being shadowed by a green-haired Seraphim before realizing that it was me.
There are two things I found painful about the graphics: the constant richness of the color, and the lightning effect. The color thing is probably just one of my quirks, but the graphics resemble a photograph that’s been edited in Photoshop and had the “vibrance” slider cranked up beyond anything realistic. Call it a pet peeve. The lightning effect is limited to one or two areas, but it’s a problem that’s likely to affect more people. Basically, lightning strikes every few seconds, overwhelming the entire screen with a blast of white. See the screenshots for an example of how overwhelming the effect is. Needless to say, anyone who’s sensitive to flashing lights should probably avoid the game because even I started to feel dizzy, and I’m almost never affected by stuff like that.
The music is better than the first game
The first Sacred had boring music. It just did. Sacred 2, on the other hand, just about nails the music. There are a bunch of songs that get stuck in your head because of how memorable and melodic they are, and while the rest of the game may be woefully sub-par, the music is one thing this game can be unabashedly proud about. There’s even a metal band cameo to be found, complete with a prerendered cutscene-slash-music-video as a quest reward. It’s a little weird to watch, but you can’t help but be entertained by it.
Here’s what you should do: