Sacred Citadel takes players to the world of Ancaria, where a once peaceful world is currently at war with an uprising forged from the forces of the Grimmoc led by a powerful warlord seeking to attain two ancient artifacts of immense power. With these terrifying abominations leading the charge, the world need a few heroes to step up and save the kingdom, and that when a few dubious Grimmoc decide to trash the wrong bar. The game's heroes are not thrilled to have their relaxing drink interrupted by the beasts and soon set off to take down the army of Grimmoc and their powerful leader after the attack. The story of Sacred Citadel isn't the strongest, but it does a good job of constantly pushing the player forward with a narrative that is both humorous constantly introducing new enemies and locations. If you're playing Sacred Citadel, you're probably playing the wrong genre of games, but the serviceable storyline is greatly overshadowed by the game's art style and gameplay.
There are four character classes to choose from in Sacred Citadel. The warrior uses large weapons to deal the most damage with melee attacks, the ranger focuses on a mixture of swift melee attacks and long range bow attacks, the mage attacks with elemental magic, and the shaman has some elemental magic of her own. For the most parts, the differences between character classes are minor attack variants and aesthetical, but each character has a different special attack and can equip different weapons to further diversify the characters. Experience points are earned with each successful attack on an enemy, and two skill points are unlocked with each level up that can be allocated to attack, defense, dexterity and power attributes. New weapons and armor can be attained from enemy drops in-game and quickly equipped with no need to enter menus. Different weapons offer different benefits, and certain class specific weapons are available throughout the game as well. Once you've completed enough stages, you will be allowed to travel back to town to purchase additional goods or make bets with a bookeeper to nab some nice prizes if certain conditions are met in the next stage. Sacred Citadel has an addictive sense of progression that will keep players coming back to find better gear and level just one more time.
Cooperative play is a blast in Sacred Citadel. Playing offline or online allows players to team up to three heroes together and venture through the game's four chapters. Playing together means sharing potion, weapon and armor drops, but the game does a good job of allowing each character to get enough weapons to share between friends, though the mad dash for dropped gold still exists for the greedier players among us. Playing the game cooperatively makes the game more hectic with more characters and enemies on the screen at once, but it allows the group to be more flexible by hitting enemies with a variety of attacks and status ailments or unleashing powerful combinations of special attacks. Sacred Citadel was designed with multiplayer in mind, and you're truly missing out if you're only playing the game by yourself.
Possibly the strongest aspect of Sacred Citadel is in its artistic design. The characters and worlds are created with very colorful cel-shaded graphics that among some of the best ever seen. The character animations are also crisp, and there are plenty of new combo attacks to unlock which each new level up. The game can sometimes be so simplistic that simply mashing the quick attack button is sufficient to take down groups of enemies, but the game gets progressively more difficult and will later require some of the more advanced tactics including double jumps, rolls and dashes to traverse stages and defeat bosses. A compelling soundtrack does a good job of keeping the action interesting with cool dubstep meets fantasy epics for a modern sound in many of the themes. Sacred Citadel is a fun game that is well worth the download, if you're looking for a new beat 'em up action title. Diverse boss encounters, giant mounts and other unique aspects make this an above average title that is worth the time invested to see the game the whole way through, and it's one of the best new titles we've played this year. Hit up your downloadable marketplace of choice and download a copy of Sacred Citadel now!
Sacred Citadel is now available for PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade and PC and can be purchased for $14.99 or 1200 Microsoft Points. Sacred Citadel is rated T by the ESRB for Blood & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Sacred Citadel website.
Developer: Southend Interactive
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade (reviewed) & PC
Release Date: April 17, 2013