Sacred Citadel Review
Mash your way to fame and fortune.
If you’re a fan of the Sacred series, and are patiently awaiting Sacred 3, Deep Silver and Southend Interactive are hoping to make the wait a little more easy to bear. Sacred Citadel is an arcade brawler that will serve as a prequel to the third installment in the Action RPG series and it is available now. We’ve been down this road a number of times before, and we might think we know what to expect, so does Sacred Citadel have what it takes to make this trip stand out above the others?
It seems the Seraphim and Ashen Empire haven’t tired of messing with each other and whichever hero you choose to control has been dragged into the fight by having their night of drinking broken up by an attack on the town they’ve stopped in. One thing leads to another and our heroes are united to defeat an army of modified Orcs, called Grimmocs. If you came for an in-depth story, you may leave disappointed, but longtime fans of the Sacred series may enjoy the tie-ins with the larger universe.
As far as brawlers go, Sacred Citadel has positioned itself to be quite enjoyable. There are four characters to choose from, and a large list of combos that should provide enough variety to keep the game from being just another button-masher. However, it manages to handicap itself in both of the aforementioned systems very quickly.
Starting with the four characters, you’ll find that by switching between them you only see the smallest of differences. Each character carries two weapons, that can be upgraded by finding better ones as you play, and one alternate attack mapped to the Y button. The Warrior pulls out a rather large hammer, while the Ranger, Shaman, and Mage all ranged weapons.
The combo list is also largely the same for each character, with only three moves being unique and based upon that character’s secondary weapon. Being able to go back and try another character would be good for longevity’s sake, but the experience is so similar from hero to hero that you probably won’t want to.
While Sacred Citadel can be fun, when you’re snapping off strings of combos, there is one element of the gameplay that caught my attention in a negative way. When fighting the basic, grunt, types of enemies they freeze in place as soon as you hit them. This means that you can maneuver yourself so that four or five enemies stack up in front of you, or slightly to the side but still in range of your attack, and just hammer away until they’re dead. This tactic is possible on the vast majority of enemies in the game, with the exception of the bosses and when the bosses are recycled as enemies in later levels. This really removes any incentive to perform difficult combos and turns the game into an easy, but tedious, endeavor.
Because of your ability to take care of multiple enemies at the same time, you’re also lead into a balancing issue which allows you to head into on the special levels that come after the last level in each act to stack up a group of enemies that should kill you in a few hits. Using the mechanic that freezes them in place allows you destroy these enemies for a huge boost in experience that will shoot you up multiple levels. Before you say it, no, I didn’t go looking for exploits, these levels are open at the start of each act and nothing warns you that you shouldn’t enter them until you are a much higher level.
If you can overlook these faults, leveling up and upgrading your gear are a welcome element to the brawler scene that should keep you interested and will probably have you going back to play some levels over again to be able to afford that sweet new sword when you head back to town.
Sacred Citadel’s visuals were also one of its more redeeming qualities, falling somewhere between cell shaded and cartoony without feeling goofy or too stylized. I really enjoyed looking at Sacred Citadel and I think you will too.
Sacred Citadel offers online and local co-op for up to three players and it works quite well, allowing you to carry over your character between your local and online game. It would be a crime to force you to play a brawler by yourself, but Southend have you covered.
Sacred Citadel’s heart is in the right place, but some of its efforts are misguided. It is possible to have fun with this game, but you have to look past a few fundamental issues to do so. The art style definitely deserves a second look, and some people will enjoy Sarcred Citadel but it could have benefited from a little more time in the oven.