Review by Bobby Blackwolf

Game Review: Sacred Citadel (PC)

Game Review: Sacred Citadel (PC)

GO RIGHT AND CONQUER. Three daring adventurers go forth on a quest to head to the right and bash anything they see.

GO RIGHT AND CONQUER. Waves of enemies attempt to stop said three daring adventurers, but they are going left, rather than right, and therefore do not conquer.

GO RIGHT AND CONQUER. Eventually a larger enemy attempts to come down rather than right or left, which throws off three daring adventurers until they realize there is a method and pattern to his madness.

GO RIGHT AND CONQUER. That's why this is my favorite beatemup in the Sacred Citadel.



Putting The Citadel In Sacred


Going Right And Conquering
Going Right And Conquering
The Sacred series is well known as an action role-playing game with an epic storyline, branching quest lines, and nights lost to insomnia. When Deep Silver acquired the rights to the Sacred franchise, they announced Sacred 3 as well as a side scrolling beatemup game that leads into it - and that is Sacred Citadel.

Playing like the beatemups you remember (with several nods to Golden Axe, including level music that sounds like it could have come from the SEGA classic) you go right and conquer and there's really not much of a reason to learn why. There are intro cutscenes to each of the four acts, and then some in-game dialogue that is sometimes cringe-worthy while you're going through a level, but unless you really want any insight into the plot of the upcoming Sacred 3, you're really just going to want to skip it.

The plot is basically this - there's an artifact, a dude wants it, a "mama" troll goes to get it, gives it to the dude, he wants another one, you go get it for him, and then you can guess what happens from there. The reason I'm generalizing it so much (and probably angering Sacred fans in the process) is because that's not what matters here. It's nice to have, but you're not playing this for any kind of deep story.

Conquering


She's driving a tank. Your argument is irrelevant.
She's driving a tank. Your argument is irrelevant.
You play this to conquer your enemies, and conquer your enemies you do. If you go the button mashing route and just press X repeatedly, eventually you will become overwhelmed. There are a tiny number of easily rememberable combos that assist in stunning, juggling, or knocking back enemies, which increment a combo-meter for your score. While there are four different character types to play from, you will generally be playing them the same way - getting close with X, using your character-specific special weapon with Y, dodge or block, wash, rinse, repeat.

You'll level up as you go, which means you can spend points into skills, although both of my playthroughs (as a warrior then a ranger) I just popped a point into Attack and Defense and never touched Dexterity or Power. Higher levels can unlock more powerful weapons and armor, and more boxes into your special move.

Trampling With Style
Trampling With Style
One of the fun things I did was, after beating the game, I took my level 33 Warrior back into the first act, and was one-hit killing everything. Well, except for the boss characters, those took about four or five hits. Speaking of those bosses, it's kind of interesting to watch them become the "trash" on later levels. You spent all that time trying to take down the boss, only to take him down in a few hits several levels later. It helps give you the sensation of actually becoming stronger.

An easily overlooked feature is the Crystal system, where you can equip certain crystals to augment your powers for 10 minutes of real time. I was able to make it through the entire game without ever touching them, although it did help in the final boss fight to have all three crystal slots filled with something.

Fun With Friends


This log is better than bad, it's good, stand over there...
This log is better than bad, it's good, stand over there...
As is the case with beatemups, you can play Sacred Citadel with two of your friends. You can either do this locally on the couch or online - but you can't mix and match. If you play online, you can't have two people on your couch and one on the other. Telling your friends to stand in the way of environmental hazards such as anvils or logs never gets old. (No really, that yellow bubbling puddle gives you Rage, trust me!)

For the most part, the game plays well online. There were several moments of lag when I attempted the co-op gameplay, but they were few and far between. The only showstopper was on one level where we got completely out of sync - my co-op partner still had an enemy alive where I had him dead, and we could not progress until that enemy was killed. There were other times it would misrepresent to the other person our health bar or potion count, which would refresh during the next fight. It was never anything that took us out of the experience for too long, and we were playing while using a Skype conversation as well as streaming 720p video to Twitch.

Look And Feel


Sacred Citadel sports a very comic-book style, cel-shaded look, and runs at a very smooth framerate. PC players will be disappointed that the game resolution caps at 1600x900 rather than full on 1080p, but I personally feel that since there is no hyper-realism here, they can get away with it.

Skeletons on a pirate ship...
Skeletons on a pirate ship...
The music was well done, gave appropriate reminders to the past, and did not get repetitive even though you were hearing the same piece play throughout the entire act. I also really LOVE the music that plays during the credits, however it only plays after you complete the game, and not when you play the credits from the main menu. It's playing as my background music right now because I found it on YouTube.

The voice acting is not really anything to write home about - it is very over the top and cartoon-sounding, which is the aesthetic they were going for. You're going to mostly skip it anyways.

The Verdict


Make no mistake, Sacred Citadel can be repetitive. There aren't that many deep combos to explore. All of the classes generally play the same, save for some special powers that their special weapon has. The story doesn't change for each playthrough, and it will take roughly four hours to complete the base four acts. There is Day One DLC, set up by one line in the final level of the base game, that adds a fifth act as well as three bonus levels for earlier acts that you should not tackle until you've gotten your character level into the 30's.

But you know what? I had fun.

I AM A BADASS
I AM A BADASS
That's what games are all about. This isn't deep, it's not going to get you more excited for Sacred 3, you aren't going to spend hours mastering juggling combos or memorizing framecounts, and you aren't going to get too frustrated with the difficulty as long as you play smartly. Yes, you'll be thrown a bunch of enemies at once that are most likely the same as the ones you just beat, but you have the sense that you're a badass that can conquer them all.

You can go right, and you can conquer. As long as that's ALL you're expecting, you can't go wrong with Sacred Citadel.

Price: $14.99 on Steam and PSN, 1200 MSP on XBLA
Version Reviewed: PC, played with wired Xbox 360 Controller
Acquisition Method: Two promo codes provided by publisher, one for lead reviewer and other for co-op partner

Our Grade:
A-
Your Grade: A-
(Based on 2 grades)
The Good:
  • Difficulty perfect to make you feel like a badass
  • Doesn't mess with the beatemup formula, you know what you're getting
  • Graphics and Music well done to fit the mood
The Bad:
  • Gets repetitive at times
  • Combos aren't very deep and easily mastered
  • You won't care about the story or voice acting

Bobby Blackwolf is the host of The Bobby Blackwolf Show on the VOG Network, lead developer of the website, and lead GM for VOG: The Game. Follow him on Twitter at @BobbyBlackwolf

Review by - 4/22/2013 12:44 PM381 views

Your Responses

Rageinator
Rageinator
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A
I agree with 99% of Blackwolf's review. Where Idiffer slightly is over the repetition. Since this is a Beat 'em up w/ RPG elements, some vel grinding can help considerably in order to advance in character levels, which in turn helps to beat some stage bosses or mid stage bosses (or to build up gold to buy stuff in shops). I love the art style & the Sega-esque music. If you like the beat 'em up genre, then this game should be a no-brainer.
See 1 More Concurring Opinion
act_deft
act_deft
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: B
I pretty much agree with the review, the game is truly great and it's really fun to GO FORWARD AND CONQUER (And sometimes up). Especially in co-op, which I think it's the greatest strength of this game. My only problem is that it does get way too repetitive and it makes it feel tedious sometimes. But again, co-op makes it feel fresh. Also hopefully the DLC will bring new life to it since it's kinda short and there's truly no point of replaying it other than achievements.

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Comments

TigerClaw
TigerClaw
4/22/2013 12:53 PM

0 0

Reply
The game seems pretty neat, I saw Blackwolf play with Act-Deft live on the Twitch.tv stream.
act_deft
act_deft
4/23/2013 12:30 AM

1 1

Reply
That was fun. And I'm definitely better at going right and conquering than Blackwolf is. =D
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