Sacred Citadel Review
Arcade style beat ’em ups are becoming fashionable again in the gaming scene. Many have either bought new gameplay concepts to the table or have been clever reimaginings of old franchises. The Sacred series, which are action RPGs in the vein of Diablo, has decided to join in on the brawler craze with its latest instalment – Sacred Citadel.
This new title, which is more than likely a prologue to the next major Sacred game, is a side-scrolling action affair reminiscent of games like Golden Axe, the Dungeons & Dragons arcade game and a dash of Gauntlet Legends. While it has its moments, it doesn’t quite live up to the zany self-parody it wants to be.
The story is a basic one as far as fantasy tales are concerned. The world of Ancaria has been enslaved and is under attack by nasty Grimmocs and other foul beasts. Four adventurers have taken it upon themselves to end the madness and leave their quiet day of drinking at the local pub to whoop up on some bad guys.
The four playable characters are standard fantasy creations, but their silence gives them a lack of personality. The other characters are just as bland, even when they’re trying to be humorous. There are signs that this is a game that could have a funny narrative, but the jokes fall flat due to the lifeless cast.
Sacred Citadel offers a few simple ways to beat down enemies. The combos, juggle tricks and charge attacks are all common to most brawlers and the moves are easy to pull off. While I enjoyed this minimalistic approach to the combat design, it did become rather dull once I figured out the enemy AI.
For the most part, enemies enter the screen in typical fashion from either the left or the right. The goal is to herd them all to one side of the screen and just mash the simple combos repeatedly until they’re all dead. This tactic can be pulled off the majority of the time, but frustration sets in rather quickly when it stops becoming feasible during much of the game’s second-half, especially when going at it solo.
Gamers playing by their lonesome will find themselves being surrounded by enemies throughout most stages. Getting shoved around by Grimmocs is not exactly fun, particularly when there doesn’t appear to be a way to counter-attack or swiftly get out of sticky situations. Blocking is useful when taking enemies head on, but it’s always a buzz-kill to get shanked from behind when trying to chain some attacks together. Some of this stress can be relieved by bringing a friend or two, however.
Co-op is easily the best option to get the most out of Citadel. Up to three players can play at once (online or offline), each one being able to select either the Ranger, Warrior, Shaman or Mage. Playing alone will ultimately require plenty of level grinding by revisiting stages for experience, new weapons and armor. However, with two or three people playing at once the game becomes more accessible and less of a chore, although, it still grows tiresome and unrewarding.
Graphics & Audio
With bland music, sub-par voice-acting and uninspired sound effects, Citadel feels wanting in the sound department. A pulsing, infectious musical score would have done a lot to make playing the game more pleasing, but instead the soundtrack offers little to get excited about.
On the other hand, the visual aesthetics do add a bit to the fun-factor. The poppy, bright animations make the scenery and characters look and feel like a comic book come to life. This is one of the few aspects of the game that is worthy of any praise.
In a way, Sacred Citadel plays like most beat ’em ups. The RPG elements do spice things up a bit, but in the end this one very stale game. Fans of the Sacred series may find some enjoyment, but I think they might be better off waiting for Sacred 3 to get their fix.