Sacred Citadel Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
As far as side-scrolling brawlers go, it’s hard to find a balance between challenge and fun. SouthEnd Interactive and Deep Silver have taken up the challenge by releasing the newest edition in the Sacred series: Sacred Citadel. This release acts as a prequel to the upcoming game Sacred 3. Sacred Citadel takes a break from the action RPG genre common in Sacred series games and instead gives us a side-scrolling brawler to mix things up a bit. Is this game the much-needed change that adventurers are longing for? Or is it yet another filler episode while you wait for the main event? Let’s find out!
You begin by selecting your class: Warrior, Ranger, Mage, or Shaman. Each class focuses on a particular weapon or attribute, though each character will have three types of basic attacks: light melee, heavy melee, or ranged. You’ll have multiple weapons at your disposal for each character, such as dual-wielding swords for a Ranger, versus a giant axe for a Warrior for melee, and bows for all your characters to use in ranged combat. Throughout the game, you will be able to upgrade these weapons by either purchasing them, or when they drop randomly (after defeating an enemy).
Unfortunately, unlike the weapons, the characters are not customizable, and very basic in their storyline. You follow the same format most adventure games have: the hero is in the wrong place at the wrong time, gets flattened by the main bad guy who ticks you off enough to keep going and levelling up until you’re strong enough to defeat him. Aside from this fact, the characters are fairly one-dimensional, and seem as though they are just placeholders – insert hero here.
You will face off in four Acts consisting of five Levels in each. Every level is about ten minutes in length, so you can pick it up and put it down without feeling like you’re leaving something extremely important. You can also stop into town at any time in between Levels to purchase items such as gear or potions with the coins that your defeated enemies drop. You will be able to play by yourself or with up to four local players. While the game mechanics do not change, the amount of enemies you face will increase as more players to your party, adding an element of challenge.
Visually the game is artistic and full of life – something that earns the developers some brownie points in the eyes of a gamer. While the characters are simple and cartoony, they are bright and diverse in their weaponry, movements, and vibrantly coloured clothes. The backdrop goes from dark and dingy with basic ambient lighting, to bright, fiery scenes of explosions and burning buildings. Each Level seems to have at least two or three transitions where the lighting, colours, and even the action around you changes. An example of this would be the very first level: you start in a dark busted-down bar, making your way to a bland looking street, with people running and screaming in the opposite direction. By the end, you are in the town square with everything on fire and mobs of angry mutants nipping at your toes. The continuous scenery and mood changes are what keep this game entertaining – and SouthEnd Interactive did a great job keeping things fresh by changing up the environments as you go along.
The gameplay itself is very straightforward – fight a mob until they are dead and move on to the next part of the level. The disappointing part of the gameplay is that it is pretty easy (regardless of the enemy). For example, when you hit a foe it is almost as if they are stunned, giving you ample opportunity to bunch them all together and then just slice them all until they die, without worrying about them hitting you back. You repeat this in almost every phase of the game, without much deviation. While this will make the gameplay very simple, it can also make it very monotonous. To be fair, most hack-and-slash type models fall into the trap of simplistic combat mechanics, and Sacred Citadel attempts to add new elements, such as exploding barrels you can hit, fires that can harm you, moving objects you and your enemies must avoid, or even more powerful combo attacks as you level up. While these features help, the enemies themselves are not a challenge at any stage of the game, and don’t really increase in difficulty level as you move through You may find yourself playing this mainly to take a break from other harder games in your collection.
The music is something you’ll have to discover for yourself. It was hard to get the tones right as the game cut in and out every 20 seconds or so – sometimes there weren’t sound effects, music, or any noises coming from the game. The sound issue may have been a problem with the download, or it may be something the developers will have to patch. Using HDMI, Component, and two separate TVs, the issue was still unresolved. This really detracted from the gameplay as it was an irritant and left me removing sound altogether, instead of constantly having it drop out on me. Thankfully, when it comes to cutscenes the sound does not seem to cut out.
Sacred Citadel offers gamers a break from the hardcore gaming they usually get stuck in. It’s perfect as a game that you may want to get as a filler in between other ventures, but it’s certainly not one to rely on to swallow the next month of your life. The total gameplay will land you somewhere between the five to six hour mark, though the replay value is minimal as the storyline does not deviate, and other than levelling up, there is no real motivation to go through the game again. Keep in mind that SouthEnd Interactive intended this to be an in-between game, not a main attraction. Sacred fans may want to have this in their collection the same way Zelda fans would want Wand of Gamelon – you may only play it once, but you are dedicated enough to the series to invest in it.
Sacred Citadel receives a 4.0/5.0
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