Sacrifice

SACRIFICE

Do you remember the year 2000?

It was the year Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn was released along with Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, The Sims, Deus Ex and other well known titles.

It was also the year that the game Sacrifice was released in.

Sacrifice is a real-time strategy (I would call it action-strategy, but I am not Wikipedia), winner of many awards, praised as revolutionary by Peter Molyneux in Black and White for the mouse-gesture control system and at the same time, one of the most underappreciated games of all times.

No one I know has played Sacrifice. No one remembers the cheats to Sacrifice. No one mentions it as one of their top ten games.

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It's really a shame as it's quite honestly unique. There are novel designs of the characters and creatures and humorous content along with superior voice acting and high quality graphics for the year it was released in.

That is not mentioning its details, originality, depth and epic quality of soundtrack (made by Kevin Manthei)

However it was badly marketed, released at the wrong time and though no figures were released, the development team (which consisted of four people) agreed that it did not sell well. Despite insistent requests and various praises, a sequel was not to be.

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"In the realm that was my home, I had devoted my life to study of the arcane. No pursuit was too perilous, no sacrifice too great, until... Well... Under the many heavens, and in the many worlds, there are darker things than Men may dream of..."

You start the game as a wizard named Eldred.

You stand amidst a battlefield, a wasteland that your companion, an imp named Zyzyx (ANOMEN!...er...Rob Paulsen), claims to be familiar. As you walk through the valley littered with souls, both faithful and heathen, you encounter Mithras, the sage(voiced by Tony Jay).

Yep, it's a wasteland
Yep, it's a wasteland

The game is presented as a recollection, a story that your player character, Eldred (voiced by Paul Eiding), tells the sage. The narrative flows wonderfully and every time you load a game, Eldred's voice chimes "Where was I?...Oh...yes".

If / When you die he corrects himself "Of course, that's not REALLY how it happened. Let me start again."

You might compare it to Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. I do.

Meet the colorful band of misfits

You must undertake missions for the five gods of the realm, according to your preference.

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Persephone. Goddess of Life... which means mostly trees, really

She often talks in 'we' and 'us'.

As close to Lawful Good as possible. She's often seen as annoying and self-righteous by the other deities.

Voiced by the one and only Jennifer Hale.

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This is James. God of Earth.

Neutral Good. Voiced by Brad Garrett, he's often seen as simple (note overalls). Also, he's a worm.

To quote him "Not everything is brown here...well...mostly"

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Say hello to Tim Curry. Er...Stratos. God of Air.

A more pompous, overbearing and ...clever god is hard to find. He was the only god I paid attention to during the first game simply because of his magnificent voice performance and to this day, whenever I think of Sacrifice, Stratos' voice and intonation of

"Hm, hm, hm, typical" comes to mind.

Also, he's a balloon head. How can you not love a balloon head?

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Pyro, God of Fire

Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. (For those who do not know this man's magnificent voice, he is Sarevok and the narrator in Baldur's Gate)
He's not exactly evil...he's just very industrial. Alright, he's mostly evil. In some missions, he could be considered worse than the default evil god.

I could call him a Neutral Evil since he really doesn't give a damn about others but simply wants to raise his factories. If he wouldn't need slaves for that...he would probably be True Neutral with a dash of narcissism (he only refers himself in the third person, he's dressed in royal purple and has a head shaped like a crown - need I say more?)

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Ah...Charnel. God of Death and large, sharp nails (fingers?)

Charnel grows on you. He's the villain with style and such nonchalance that he makes evil look cool. Not that it isn't already. You'd think that he comes in contrast with Persephone, but Pyro does that much more often.

To let him introduce himself...

"Charnel: I am Charnel. God of Strife, God of Slaughter, God of...DEATH. Where there is pain: I am there. Where there is suffering...I flourish. Where there is joy...yes, well one could hardly have joy without another's suffering could they?"

His voice makes me all giddy inside. The actor voicing him is Charlie Adler aka Ignus from Planescape Torment, Harold from Fallout 1 and 2 or Couch Oldeander in Psychonauts. You really couldn't tell, however.

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You choose the deity you wish to champion but are permitted to switch often along the way, altering events as well as the skills. Each of these five gods make you undertake a mission, be it to protect, conquer, delay attackers or save peasants. Therein lies the beauty of Sacrifice - depth and replayabilty as the plot changes around the god you champion.

At the beginning of the game, you start collecting favors. Each god is neutral to you but after a couple of missions you will find that one god or more will not be happy with you. It stands to reason that working for Charnel will make Persephone quite upset with you.

Each of them grants a spell and a creature per mission so that at the end of the game you will have your own personal zoo of deadly creatures, picked for your convenience and spells that can cause a volcano, a killer cloud, a healing rainbow or a rain of frogs.

No matter which god you serve, however, you will have certain spells and creatures that perform similar functions.

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The noble quest

Not so noble. You're doing this for revenge, plain and simple and though I won't spoil it, you are also doing it for power. Few games are so up-front with their intentions. At the same time, few games contain this amount of intrigue. Not of your making, of course, though always working for different gods does give you a sense of understanding for them and more of a mercenary feel.

These dysfunctional gods are ever fighting, ever bickering and some are more straight forward, others work with hidden motives and guile.

The gameplay is rather basic. You have an altar. If it's desecrated, you lose. The enemy has one too. Desecrate it and win.

You have mana fountains that you can turn into your own manaliths so that they can only recharge your mana.

At the beginning of the game you have souls which you can use to summon creatures and each creature gives souls when it dies. (The best excuse for a 'kill the peasants' maneuver I've seen yet). You receive different spells and creatures as you advance, depending on the god.

You haven't lived until you've tried James' super-spell "Bovine Intervention" where a Super-Cow flies from the sky, exploding on impact and killing those near where it landed.

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Super-Cow needs its own theme song

Don't like cows? Charnel's super spell summons Death who chuckles cheerfully as it kills everything in one hit (including your troops if they get too close).

Or use such the spell named "Intestinal Vaporization".

The whole game is 10 missions long and it's the perfect size. Not too long, not too short. It also has a multiplayer and enough maps to play again and again. You can also orchestrate your own battles, choosing someone to fight as, someone to fight against and a map. You can literally play the game for hours, as you adjust to the battle field and engage in combat that never gets dull.

If you finished the game you get an extra character model to play with depending on which side you were on: good or evil.

The drawbacks

There are a few.

The game does not reward tactical play. You can beat the game by constantly summoning more assault troops and crush your opponents though I have found that it's quite difficult to do so. It's easier to chip away at the enemies' defenses seeing as there is a limited amount of souls per map.

You will need a third hand. Or a fourth. If you're Doctor Otto Octavius, you're set. For those of us without four mechanical tentacles (or is it just me?) things will be a bit more difficult. You need to watch the creatures, the spells, the manaliths and the altar.

The Teleport spell helps, though it takes some time to cast.

The key to this is to hunt down the potential boons each god gives at the end of a mission.

It's incredibly fast-paced. You will attack and before you know it, half of your creatures are dead, the enemy wizard is attacking your manalith and you're a dead floating spirit of a PC, waiting to reincarnate so that you can get your souls back and retreat with your tail between your legs.

The view you have over the battle field is not the best. You will often depend on the map instead to see what is happening in your blind spot. And you need to control your creatures with an iron fist or else they will run after a dying enemy across the entire map.

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The end

I do not know if this review will make you try out this wonderful, unique game. Probably not.

Despite having been around for years and costing around 15 dollars on Amazon, I have yet to hear people gushing about it with the exception of some members of the press.

I don't even know if I presented it well enough. But I did want to draw the attention on one of those games that rarely comes along.

Huzzah! Someone else who both knows about and is convinced of the brilliance of Sacrifice! I've long championed Sacrifice as as an overlooked masterpiece that everyone should try their hand at at least once; the things it did within the context of the RTS genre were pretty damn innovative.

As for your review itself, you might have considered stressing Eldred's mercenary nature a bit more - the "10 mission length" is really a 10 mission path, as there are actually 50 possible missions and myriad possible paths, though less than the numbers might suggest because if you keep doing missions for deities on one side of the moral divider you'll eventually piss the other side off, and then a while later whichever deity you side with the most becomes the only one you can work for in the future. The spells you have available and the creatures and hero units you can summon reflect the path you take through the game - each new mission unlocks spells and summons, and depending on your past mission history you could have units and spells from Charnel operating alongside those from Persephone.

A whole lot of replay value in other words. Speaking of which, I should really fire the game back up and go through it again...

Gildan Bladeborn:
Huzzah! Someone else who both knows about and is convinced of the brilliance of Sacrifice! I've long championed Sacrifice as as an overlooked masterpiece that everyone should try their hand at at least once; the things it did within the context of the RTS genre were pretty damn innovative.

As for your review itself, you might have considered stressing Eldred's mercenary nature a bit more - the "10 mission length" is really a 10 mission path, as there are actually 50 possible missions and myriad possible paths, though less than the numbers might suggest because if you keep doing missions for deities on one side of the moral divider you'll eventually piss the other side off, and then a while later whichever deity you side with the most becomes the only one you can work for in the future. The spells you have available and the creatures and hero units you can summon reflect the path you take through the game - each new mission unlocks spells and summons, and depending on your past mission history you could have units and spells from Charnel operating alongside those from Persephone.

A whole lot of replay value in other words. Speaking of which, I should really fire the game back up and go through it again...

Hm, you're right, I should. Thank you.

And yes, I am a large fan of the game. I've played it over 20 times. It was one of the first games I ever tried and it stuck.

Edit: Added. Thank you again.

And I thought I would be alone here.

Great review. I loved Sacrifice (and still do although haven't played it for ages) but I really sucked at it. Seriously, the Ragman used to kick my ass early on. I always had problems converting souls before the other wizard picked them up. They always seemed to be charging around with Haste so, not matter how close the Sac Doctor got, I always lost the soul. Conversely, they usually managed to steal and convert my losses.
Then, the few times I had someone beat, desecrating their altar was nearly impossible. They'd resurrect and interrupt the process before it could finish.

Despite that it was a great game for me. Many a happy day was spent tearing shit up with Charnel and Death or Pyro and the Volcano spell. Not to mention Stratos and the Tornado. The graphics and art were also incredibly beautiful, especially considering that it came out in PSone era.

Oh yeah, and the only cheat I remember is "aplethoraof ___"

I got this off Steam a while ago, and I still don't get why most don't know about it.

Casimir_Effect:
And I thought I would be alone here.

Great review. I loved Sacrifice (and still do although haven't played it for ages) but I really sucked at it. Seriously, the Ragman used to kick my ass early on. I always had problems converting souls before the other wizard picked them up. They always seemed to be charging around with Haste so, not matter how close the Sac Doctor got, I always lost the soul. Conversely, they usually managed to steal and convert my losses.
Then, the few times I had someone beat, desecrating their altar was nearly impossible. They'd resurrect and interrupt the process before it could finish.

Despite that it was a great game for me. Many a happy day was spent tearing shit up with Charnel and Death or Pyro and the Volcano spell. Not to mention Stratos and the Tornado. The graphics and art were also incredibly beautiful, especially considering that it came out in PSone era.

Oh yeah, and the only cheat I remember is "aplethoraof ___"

Thank you. Glad you liked it.

The thing about Ragman is that you have to kill him before he gets an altar(in the James mission). Otherwise he's very hard to kill because he's very fast. If you gather a couple of assault troops (air and ground) and rush him, he'll die in a very satisfying manner very fast.

Also to convert souls faster, have more than one altar.

There are a lot more fun cheats like bythepowerofthegrayskull or yourbulletscannotharmme. I only mentioned it because no one in the Cheat Game in the Game section knew it.

darth.pixie:

Casimir_Effect:
And I thought I would be alone here.

Great review. I loved Sacrifice (and still do although haven't played it for ages) but I really sucked at it. Seriously, the Ragman used to kick my ass early on. I always had problems converting souls before the other wizard picked them up. They always seemed to be charging around with Haste so, not matter how close the Sac Doctor got, I always lost the soul. Conversely, they usually managed to steal and convert my losses.
Then, the few times I had someone beat, desecrating their altar was nearly impossible. They'd resurrect and interrupt the process before it could finish.

Despite that it was a great game for me. Many a happy day was spent tearing shit up with Charnel and Death or Pyro and the Volcano spell. Not to mention Stratos and the Tornado. The graphics and art were also incredibly beautiful, especially considering that it came out in PSone era.

Oh yeah, and the only cheat I remember is "aplethoraof ___"

Thank you. Glad you liked it.

The thing about Ragman is that you have to kill him before he gets an altar(in the James mission). Otherwise he's very hard to kill because he's very fast. If you gather a couple of assault troops (air and ground) and rush him, he'll die in a very satisfying manner very fast.

Also to convert souls faster, have more than one altar.

There are a lot more fun cheats like bythepowerofthegrayskull or yourbulletscannotharmme. I only mentioned it because no one in the Cheat Game in the Game section knew it.

Ha, those sound familiar. I remember finishing the game by pausing it, opening the console and spawning a metric fucktonne of high-level creatures with God mode on.

It was just all too fast for me at that age. I could rock Command & Conquer (to an extent) and was alright at other RTS, but Sacrifice kicked my ass.
I've also forgotten alot about it. You're mentioning having more than one altar and that rings no bells with me at all. As does the concept of killing the Ragman before he has one. I vaguely remember a mission where I'm against (?) James near the start of the game (playing as Persephone or Charnel maybe) and there's some sort of dragon to kill...
but after that I draw a complete blank.

Embarressingly, I think this is it. Mission fucking 1. I beat it, but could never get much further without cheating.

You've almost inspired me to head to gog.com or Steam to pick up a copy now. My old cd version is lost to the world or would rebel with Win7, so I think gog may be the best idea. Thank you, sir.

Don't forget that Charnel is the most honest god of the bunch.

He gives it to you straight, no lies, deceptions, or left out details.

I still have my copy of Sacrifice. Always wanted to try multiplayer just to see if it was any fun.

Ralen-Sharr:
Don't forget that Charnel is the most honest god of the bunch.

He gives it to you straight, no lies, deceptions, or left out details.

I still have my copy of Sacrifice. Always wanted to try multiplayer just to see if it was any fun.

That's why I love Charnel. To me, him and Stratos were the best. Stratos because, hey! Tim Curry (if you've seen any of his movies you can imagine what happens) and Charnel because he's too cool not to.

Multiplayer is very fun. You gain experience for the spells, so if you play more aggresively you gain spells faster. It has different mods so you can aim for slaughter (kill count) or harvest (soul count).

It had much better multiplayer than other games at the time but I still see the single player as more exciting. It's worth a shot anyway.

Wonderfully written review! I've never played this game, but because you went into such depth, I was able to figure out whether or not to play.

Unfortunately, I won't. These types of games just don't personally appeal.

BTW, one quick note on the review itself: use some image sizing. You can place images pretty much anywhere you want in the review, but large images clutter up a review and make it look a bit sloppy.

Skorpyo:
Wonderfully written review! I've never played this game, but because you went into such depth, I was able to figure out whether or not to play.

Unfortunately, I won't. These types of games just don't personally appeal.

BTW, one quick note on the review itself: use some image sizing. You can place images pretty much anywhere you want in the review, but large images clutter up a review and make it look a bit sloppy.

Thank you very much. I tried to show off most of the game without giving spoilers about its plot. I'm sorry that it's not something you'd enjoy playing but at least you now know about it, which is really all I wanted.

And thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. I had a couple of issues with the images and with my own computer so I had to make a compromise. I'll try to edit it out a bit though.

Shameless plug here:

I've been doing an interactive play-through of this game, actually. I'm on part 4 right now.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.269724-Poll-Sacrifice-Part-4

It's... not doing so good. Not enough viewers to really make it work.

I love sacrifice! one of my friends showed me the game years ago and I recently found it on steam. I already have over 30 hours and i only beat the campaign once.
Yes the game is awesome, yes it's fun, but everyone here is right.

ITS FUCKING HARD AS NAILS!!!

First time I played I got to the second mission I got owned! Though at the time I had no knowledge of any cheats, I beat it. GO SACRIFICE!

Other people who know of Sacrifice's brilliance?

I never thought I'd see the day. This is probably one of the most underrated and underplayed games ever. It really is disappointing how it flew under everyone's radar. Such a great game too, with a unique mission structure and great art direction.

I came across one thing or another that mentioned this the other day... I can't remember what it was. Maybe it was an all-time list of best RTS games. Anyway, I looked up a few old reviews and looked it up on GOG.com. It certainly sounds interesting and unique, and that's about all I'm looking for half the time. I'm curious as to how the real-time strategy elements play out from this perspective.

Those spells sound like a lot of fun. That's a selling point.

It's being added to my list of games to play... but there are about 15 of those from GOG alone so it might take me a while to get there.

My current old game is Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Another great game from that time period... you can't go wrong with putting jetpacks in games.

 

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