Review: Sacred Legends24 Sep 2016 8
Review: Sacred Legends
Released 24 Aug 2016
Console and PC ports to mobile tend to come in two flavors: either the developer attempts to shoehorn the original vision for the game with touchscreen mechanics (which can make even the best games an unplayable mess), or they take the feel and tone and attempt to make something inspired by the original vision but with touchscreen in mind. My go-to example for this is always Rayman Fiesta Run.
Sacred Legends goes for the second option, but also feels as though the developers got a bit carried away. In its original form Sacred is an action role-playing game with emphasis on finding loot to upgrade weapons and armor – within in the same vein as Diablo. It feels and plays every bit like the PC game it is. And with in-depth menu layout and liberal use of the keyboard for commands, it is a game that would have taken a herculean effort to port to mobile.
Instead, mechanically, Sacred Legends is stripped down to the bare essentials; set on a linear automatic path, you fight three waves of enemies with each wave increasing in difficulty. On the bottom right there are four techniques you can use and one super charged attack (think the limit break from Final Fantasy VII). These techniques come in different forms that you can upgrade and customize, but quite honestly, changing from one to another does not feel like much of a difference. You are also stuck with the character you pick from the beginning, and have to pick from randomly selected allies to help you from areas with a large volume of enemies.
The combat is stripped down to where your efforts feel (almost) redundant. Your avatar automatically swipes with whatever weapons you have assigned at the time, and the techniques you have available work on a cool down mechanic; battles feel superficial as you sit around waiting for these timers to run down. There is mass degree of separation between you and the avatar that makes you wonder if there is any point holding the phone/tablet. There is not even any way to dodge attacks. Before a battle begins it is not too difficult to work out if you can win the fight, or whether it would be better to just grind the last area you fought until you can upgrade your armor and weapons. And that is pretty much the game: a sheer attrition of grinding, and in the laziest way possible. Sure, it looks nice, but it has the value of an “interactive game” from the dark days of the Phillips CD-i.
The RPG elements prevalent in the original have made their way across, though all inventory management is performed outside of battle. On top of the standard weapons and armor, you can collect boots, earrings (magic defense), and more. Any duplicate items can be forged with your existing items to boost their stats, and there are particular items that if forged with the correct item will double the stat boost.
Where the bulk of Deep Silver’s work seems to have gone is in the main menu – the sheer wealth of options and modes is surprising. Adventure mode is where the bulk of the action takes place; the world is split into chapters, further split into individual levels. Before the start of each level you are informed of the enemies that lay await and potential loot you can grab if victorious. Then there is the expedition mode; various scenarios are presented and the loot available, you select the one you want to do and how long it will take and then… you wait till it is finished. That is it. In all my accomplishments in the world of video games, victory in expedition mode will not make it high on the list.
You can add and accept friend requests, with reward incentives if you send requests through various forms of social media. Arena is the online multiplayer area, though the opponents are AI controlled during the fights. The higher your daily ranking, the more rewards you can earn, though you only get five chances to fight without purchasing more. I am fine with F2P as a concept and the way economies are constructed around this type of game, but forcing the player to pay extra to have any competitive gain in this is way is wholly unacceptable. Again, you can just compare the stats of yourself and the opponent before any given battle to see if it is worth entering.
The game looks fantastic, and the explosions and effects during the in-game sequences certainly do a credible effort to make it look enjoyable to play. Some of the bosses in particular are detailed with strong animation, though most of them only have one animated sequence, in fairness.
The highest praise I can bestow upon this game is the soundtrack. Somehow tapping into the veins of Hans Zimmer, the compositions oscillate anywhere between Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight. Most of the time with handheld games I will dip in out with the audio, but here, between weaving into the gameplay experience perfectly and never feeling like it dived into repetition (shame the same can not be said for the game itself - zing) I had the music cranked up, much to the dismay of my housemates. It is that good I felt obliged to bump the whole rating up by a star.
Sacred Legends can best be described as junk food for games: you know there are classier, tastier treats out there, but you settle for the easy option, the one you can sit there and consume without taking the time to enjoy or appreciate it. Two to three hours can go by in the blink of an eye, but your accomplishments feel hollow; a game built on grinding but without any of the satisfaction.