Sacred Line Genesis Review

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Sacred Line Genesis is a 2015 horror/thriller text-adventure for the Sega Mega Drive by Sasha Darko. The player takes the roll of Ellen, a private detective in Eastern Europe searching for her sister Sarah. It was originally released in late 2013 as a downloadable ROM that could be played on an emulator or flash cartridges and as of writing is still available for purchase from WaterMelon.

A new release for old hardware is not common but also far from unheard of. WaterMelon, who published this game also released Pier Solar and the Great Architects, an all-new RPG for the system in 2010. The Dreamcast, the NES and even the Atari 2600 have also seen various releases. What makes Sacred Line unique for a homebrew release and for the system in that it is a text adventure, a genre certainly not common on the Mega Drive. Apart from the novelty of playing a new Mega Drive game, this is perhaps what most drew my interest to the title.

As Sacred Line Genesis is a text adventure, there isn’t a whole lot of interaction. When you aren’t reading exposition, you’re making choices about where to go or what to do. The text is complimented by a variety of often creepy imagery throughout the game. In some areas you’ll be asked to make decisions using dice – which can be ignored. On my first playthrough I had an amazingly lucky streak of rolls which took me all the way to the end. As is common with the genre most of it comes down to making choices with some resulting in a dead-end if not death and usually only one right way to proceed. Skipping through the text and ignoring the dice-rolls will see the game over in minutes but would completely ruin the experience. The best way to play is as was intended and the trial by error aspect is alleviated by the fairly regular checkpoints though I would have liked the option to turn them off and add a survival aspect to the horror.

Great writing and a compelling narrative is essential to the Adventure genre. Sacred Line Genesis’ strengths are in the latter with a morbid Lovecraftian theme and ever increasing tension as the story unfolds. It immediately reminded me of the now classic Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem on GameCube. The writing is certainly competent for the genre but I personally found some of the exposition poorly written and the use of profanity came off as forced and somewhat unecessary. That said, Darko has the plot unfold at an excellent pace. The only true disappointment for me was how abruptly the game ended. I felt that there was a lot that could be expanded upon and I certainly hope what was done in Sacred Line will not be the end of the story.

As this is an obscure release on one of, if not my favourite video game console, I may be being more positive than normal. I tried to play Sacred Line Genesis as I would any Mega Drive game at the time and on that merit, it would have been an interesting and fondly remembered release. By today’s standards it holds up less well but this is perhaps more because of a variety of limitations that come with independent releases. Nonetheless, the passion that went into this is obvious and I’m glad I was able to play and support it.

3.5 Stars

April, 2015

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