Belated Completion

Turning a pile of shame into a pile of victory!

Sacred Gold

2004, Ascaron Entertainment
PC.

Getting it working
Look out for resolution issues with some widescreen monitors.

In Short
Everyone is a twat.

sacredgold.jpg

Fondly referred to in my head as “everyone is a twat: the game”, Sacred Gold was an isometric view RPG with some indefinable, addictive element.

The graphics (a mix of matte backgrounds and 3D characters) and design were great for their time, and have aged quite well. I particularly liked the Blorg Hunters, as they were both cool in appearance, and they hunted Blorg. I found myself playing most of the game as zoomed out as I could to avoid being unexpectedly jumped by enemies, but now and again (especially when Blorg Hunters were a'hunting) it was nice to zoom in and enjoy a closer view. The music was forgettable but unobtrusive, and the more commonly heard sound effects managed to avoid becoming annoying. For example, the gentle lilt of the soal-sealing vortex above my character's head was a constant companion for the latter half of the game, and I came to find it soothing rather than grating. The voice acting ranged from passable to hilariously awful, and coupled with a clunky script was filled with quotable quotes. I shall always cherish the blood lust filled screech “Heeethaaaannnn”, and hope to use it at parties.

The gameplay went some way to encouraging exploration of strategy, gradually unlocking a broad range of hotkey bind-able spells and combos. The actual click-to-attack mechanic is a little finnicky, making playing as a ranged character or someone who switches targets more difficult. I chose to play as a Dark Elf. This was a poor choice in that he was an absolute twat to everyone. His comments when accepting quests were very aggressive, and sometimes belied some deep psychological issues (such as his pledge to bathe in an old ladie's enemie's blood when she asked him to fetch her sheep). Given that everyone else in the game is either rude outright, or nice until they stab you in the back (you won't have any back left to stab if you complete all the quests), my choice of character left no vestige of civility in the entire game. Personality aside, though, I found the Dark Elf's abilities particulary enjoyable, if overpowered. If you pump all your skill points into dual wield, sword, and then deck yourself out with two swords, you can deal an obscene amount of damage in a short time. Couple this with a healthy supply of health potions, and or some magical means of health restoration, and you have an unstoppable juggernaut. A very rude juggernaut. Which leads into a big issue for this game; the difficulty curve goes from incredibly punishing to cakewalk rather abruptly.

Early on, I found the game really tough. This could be due to my lack of experience within this genre, or simply because I suck at both on-the-spot combat, and assigning skill points. Either way, after a frustrating two hours I set the game aside for a number of months, before eventually picking it up again. The second time around, I imported my slightly more developed character instead of starting from scratch, and before I knew it I'd sunk over a two hundred hours into the game and was wielding a god among twats.

The curious thing is, I cannot rationalise why I spent so long playing this game. The plot was sparse and uninspired, the gameplay itself was a repetitive grind through increasing mobs of enemies over a truly HUGE landscape, and the carrot-on-the-stick cutscenes between chapters were short and nothing to write home about. The ending was an enormous letdown (informed by text you can export your character? Seriously?), and yet... Yet there I was, pulling all-nighters, poring all of my spare time for months into it. I completed all the side quests and the main story of both the original game and the Underworld expansion over the course of about three years, in fevered bouts.

In short, if you let this game pull you in and really give it a chance, it can be bizarrely satisfying and involving.

 

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