‘Hey Kris, I have a code for Sacred Citadel. It needs reviewing. I have no idea what it is, but fancy giving it a go?’ This was the message I got from the Editor late last week. I did think to myself at the time ‘Sacred Citadel? Never heard of it’. I guessed it might have something to do with the Sacred titles; albeit though I haven’t played Sacred since the first game, I guessed right. I have since worked out Sacred Citadel is in fact a prequel to Sacred 3, a title I have yet to play. Oh well… here we go.
This is one of those marmite games; you either love it or hate it. And if you haven’t decided yet it is probably because you are stuck scratching your head and trying to work out what this game actually is. Is it an action-RPG? Is it a side scrolling 2.5D brawler? Is it Golden Axe brought kicking and screaming into 2013? I am not 100% sure myself truth be told, but it definitely has a bit of all these rolled into one.
Whilst Sacred Citadel’s art style is undeniably beautiful, with its colourful cell shaded characters, there’s a very it’s another one of these games vibe about the entire thing that, in my mind, is perpetuated by plenty of mechanical short-comings, like game-breaking endless combo oversight. No seriously… I am not kidding. I reached 99 Hit Combo and just kept going. (I have read elsewhere that teams of 3 players have been using this to ‘boost’ new players through levels).
Talking of boosting (if you are a MMO player, you’ll understand the term), here is another game breaking oversight. So there I am, a level 7 Warrior already bored with the repetitive and cheap ‘copy paste’ level design in Act 1, and I think to myself it’s time to take the action online. So I look for a public game and end up in Act 3 with a level 34 Range and level 29 Mage. Off we go and within 2 levels I am level 20. But the end of Act 3 I am level 25 without doing much at all, the Ranger & Mage did all the work. Having then decided to stay with them and finish the game (and collecting the end game achievements) I go back to Act 1… R.U.I.N.E.D. Now the game is too easy; Acts 1 & 2 and done in minutes. Online mode should have paired me with players at a similar level and not placed me in Acts I had yet to unlock.
If that’s something that doesn’t bother you, then you’re looking at a fairly generic albeit stylish 3 player coop casual brawler. But it is a casual brawler. Despite plentiful stat-based weapon and gear drops, and the ability to upgrade your characters attributes at the end of every level, levelling each of the four classes independently, the game is too mechanically busted to give it any worth.
Sacred Citadel is comprised of four acts of five levels each, the latter of which facing the boss. I was surprised to find that the scenery each of the acts takes place in isn’t vastly different. We expect, as sometimes spoilt but always the critical gamer, a varied and vibrant setting to our games. Sacred Citadel really misses the mark when it comes to level design. There are very few interactive moments other than a couple I can remember clearly. There was the ability to drive a tank through hordes of enemies (OK, that was kind of cool) and then there was dodging mine carts which I found fiddly and unintuitive. Much of the backdrop is samey and uninspired and the level styles seem to reoccur later in the game, at least in style and aesthetic.
Once I knew Sacred Citadel was part of the Sacred series, I expected quite a lot. I was unfortunately let down. The introduction of RPG like elements such as stat-based weapon and gear drops, and a home town, led me to believe that this title had some depth, but it doesn’t. If you ignore what the developer ostensibly intended to be depth, and enjoy it for what it is: a mishmash of game concepts and hack’n’slash style then Sacred Citadel is a bit of casual fun with friends. You’ve got local coop, too, so you can enjoy some game time with pizza and beer if that’s your thing.
Despite being fully voice acted, as well as having a beautiful art-style and heavy WoW/Diablo fantasy aesthetic (which I did enjoy!) and the developer fixed the mechanical and technical problems, then I would consider recommending it. Levels are linear and bland, and the enemies repeat themselves over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over… you get the idea, right? There are also too many broken elements to justify the 1200 MS Point price tag.