The Dark Steam Hunt
Updated: Jan 19, 2019
The world is filled with many terrible things; one of the high number of nightmarish aspects we as a society have to face is bad entertainment. Unlike war or sickness we can avoid playing bad games and cherish the good. In this series I will dig though the worst that steam has to offer because I want to save you from bad financial decisions and entertainment choices. Not the most noble of jobs but someone has to do it.
Happy New Year by the way!
Cunning Fox is as broken and as hellish of a game as it is a reskin of one the worst games of all time. There is nothing really more to be said; I summed up everything in my review of Guinea Pig here. I hate this game and the lazy hack devs who spammed Steam with their artistically bankrupt garbage.
Remember Limbo? That unsettling artistic platformer that won the hearts and minds of players everywhere, the game widely considered to be one of the Indie Darlings?
How about a discount Fisher Price version of that?
Much like Limbo you start out in as a big headed child, (?) thing in a big scary world while looking for some sort of female creature (at least I assume it is female but generic creepy child laughter can fool anyone’s perception of gender) for no good reason you chase after the stock creepy monster creature in the hope of something. I am going to be honest, I did not finish this game because of the game breaking (more on that later) so I don’t know if there is any reason for us to find the monster girl or that the child is in fact our sister or our mum but story is really underwhelming to nonexistent. I would not be too mean and claim there is no effort in trying visual storytelling with the industrial setting and the corpses of other big headed robots similar to the one we are playing littering the background; one might think that White Dog was going for some sort of dehumanizing theme which can be the case. The problem is, if that were the case it is totally lost as the story is not made explicit enough and the visuals only give shallow insight, unless it gets better. ( I really doubt it does to be honest) I really don’t think the story, if any is well told or expressed. That does not mean the game is bad per say (expect that it is) if the gameplay is good.
The gameplay is basic, almost to the point of absurdity; I do approve of games that have a simple control scheme as there is less of a chance of something going wrong, beauty in simplicity as I like to call it. The trouble comes when the simplistic controls are flawed at a fundamental level, not quite as bad as Cunning Fox where the jump button only works by the roll of a dice but still very awkward to handle when lightly tapping the space bar to jump sends the legless robot flying gaily into the some white object or into a wall or some other foreign hazard. Trying to move while in the air or change will either result in a turn rate as fast and smooth as rocky mud. Controlling what-ever-that-thing-is is a chore. The game does not tell you can double jump which lead me to get stuck temporarily at the start until I discovered it by accident. Either you double jump too high or go too far or short, you are entirely at the whims of the controls. You can’t reconfigure the controls and all two buttons do not work properly. I must confess it is because of these controls I got stuck at a certain point where I kept trying to jump past white blocks that were far too big and just dying every time. Eventually I just lost patience with the game.
The game, when looking at a screen shot seems fine if somewhat cheap. It is better than Cunning Fox which has no artistic merit in any way whatsoever. But the sense of shoestring lingered through my time playing; from that generic creepy girl laugh that I am somewhat convinced is a stock asset or the robot that looks like a reject Reddit mascot and basic but inconsistent colour scheme. It tells you to avoid anything white except that you should also avoid anything red. The save points are also white and your character is white which sends a rather mixed message and makes the stylistic choice appear clumsy and ill thought out.
The game itself is a technical mess as well; if for whatever reason you find yourself going back up a tube (considering the jumping controls this can be easy) you will not be able to go down, forcing you to kill yourself in order to process, expect for some reason some of the instant death spike just don’t work and some could, I replayed the game again and for unknown reasons some spikes just don’t work.
Now for that moment where I got stuck.
Just outside a checkpoint a number of boxes were supposed to spawn to help me bypass a endless number of slow moving blocks that would kill me if I touched them. However I was guarantee at best five blocks instead of the total six because every time one of them got stuck in walls-sometimes up to three blocks would get stuck. Regardless, I was always short of one block through; no fault of my own but because the game’s spawn system was fucked (to be blunt). As a result I could not process because I never had enough blocks.
Sleeping Valley. While better then Cunning Fox by the virtue that just about anything is better than Cunning- Guinea-Fox-Pig. Is still a broken lame Limbo wannabe without any of the talent of the latter and only a tenth of the creativity, play Limbo instead.
(Rant about bad comedy starting in:
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a rule when one is beholding a piece of entertainment.
Bad drama can be enjoyable.
Bad comedy hurts you; bad comedy is a painful experience.
Sacred 3 is a prime example of that rule, a bad comedy that inflicts mental wounds on those who are unlucky enough to play it.
In the generic fantasy world of Ancaria a generic evil empire (The Ashen Empire) oppresses everyone. The exception to this is a supposedly underdog resistance which; for reasons never explained have access to the most powerful heroes in Ancaria as well as the backing of Heaven itself. They also talk like a poor man’s rendition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because that is really funny.
Nothing is funny in this game.
Sacred 3 forgets the most important rule of comedy: it is all based on misery in some way, shape or form. No one in Sacred 3 is suffering at the expensive of some joke, everyone is overconfident and snarking in the most annoying, smug way humanly possible. Every joke falls like flat like a crushing stone slab. Everyone talks like they are the wittiest and most intelligent person in the game and it fails badly. It makes you wonder if Keen Game’s writers had even seen, read or knew about comedy before writing this trash because there is no sense of timing or build up, characters just say stupid things in a stupid way and we are expected to laugh at the stupid line. And not at the characters embarrassing themselves because they, and by extension the game consider themselves to be comedic geniuses. This lack of self-awareness resulted in a support character whose endless quips of comedic death along with her pestering you to perform whatever task you are forced to do; while you are doing said task. Just going through the two + hours worth of gameplay with the voice acting and dialogue was simply grating and unpleasant.
She is the worst example of this non comedy but she is not the only one. There is another character whose sole character trait is that he is inappropriate around women and another one who sings all her lines in the most annoying way possible. The characters are one dimensional and annoying on the ears and I hate it. I hate this game just on the smug shitty writing alone.
From what I have heard from my research before and after having my fill of this game previous entries in the Sacred series, Sacred 3 is wholly unrecognisable from its forebears. This game is not an open world RPG that may or may not have been comedic (from the trailers of Sacred 1 and 2 this does not seem to be the case). Sacred 3 is instead an Isometric hack and slash. Normally when a game takes such a different change in design it is because the game is a spinoff of the main series or it is a radical attempt to not fade away. As far as I know Sacred 3 is not a spin off nor is it attempt to revive the series (this game killed the series in fact). It is as basic of a hack and slash as they come where hordes of enemies are thrown at you and you blow them away. This can be fun, you being an overpowered god of death are badass and cathartic until the game throws you a level that is too high for you, forcing you to replay the previous level until the level requirement is met. Not only does it throw the difficulty curve out the window and inflate the game with needless padding but it is completely worthless. I cannot see any positive reason for the game to force me into playing more of the same levels and having to listen to the same non jokes over and over again. It might be in an attempt to encourage the online aspect but considering that I only ever encountered about three matches max running at any time I had no reason or desire to play online. The levels themselves are linear with almost no exploration asides from a few chests. These don’t give any real reward asides from more health, money and mana (it is called energy but it is mana) that can be found anywhere else, abilities and weapons are merely given to you when you hit a certain level.
It is not very rewarding to just get given stuff by killing enemies blindly in a game that is not very interesting in the first place. The controls are also somewhat awkward to handle as your character positioning is controlled by the mouse while your movements are controlled by the normal WASD set up, insuring that sometimes you will either slash wildly at the wrong angle because you were not positioning the mouse at the right direction or you doge rolled into the boss because where your mouse was facing was not the direction you wanted to go, this little annoyance in the control scheme made the game just that little bit more unbearable to play. The controller option does not work either (more on that later).
It looks okay for its time, nice use of colours and the cut scenes are well done and beautifully rendered with the strange exception of where, after ever mission I am greeted by a very low resolution model of my character that was horrible to look at and at odds in a game that otherwise was kind of pretty.
Every time I tried to use a controller with Sacred 3 I ended up in an infinite loading after logging in. I have tested my controller on different games and for whatever reason a game that supposedly has full controller support somehow does...not. (Using controller without DS4 windows results in the game crashing) screen tearing popped up from time to time and the resolution provided no end of trouble when minimizing in and out.
If you mute all the dialogue Sacred 3 is a boring and mostly inoffensive hack and slash; it barely holds the attention until you remember all the better Isometric hack and slashes out there. But with the sound on the game is unbearable. Sacred 3 is a comedic failure.
Thank you for reading all of the first in the Dark Steam Hunt series, if you enjoyed this read and want to support me then please consider using the donate button below or the following Humble link.