The side scrolling brawler genre of games has not been very prominent this console generation. Brawlers have taken a backseat to the large, epic AAA games that garner attention. SouthEnd Interactive and Deep Silver want to bring back that nostalgic feeling that so many experienced in the arcades with Sacred Citadel.
There is a little back story to Sacred Citadel which includes an evil force trying to gain access to a special crystal to make them powerful. It is up to one of the four adventurers in the game to stop this evil force. There is not anything special about the story, it is just there to give the player a reason to slay enemy after enemy. And fighting loads of enemies is what Sacred Citadel does best.
Similar to other brawlers, the character moves from left to right, and gets locked into an area until all the enemies are defeated. You have two basic attacks, a special attack, and will also learn new moves as you level up. The ability to level up is one of the better features in Sacred Citadel. The characters go from extremely weak fighters to destroying enemies in just a few hits. With the ability to upgrade weapons and armor to ridiculous levels as you level up, it is enough to the keep players interested in the game. A problem that many brawlers run into is repetitiveness. Sacred Citadel can get repetitive at times, but unique boss battles and acquiring new loot as you progress helps battle this.
One thing unique to Sacred Citadel is the fact that enemies will drop better armor, weapons, health, and money when they are killed. While this is helpful to players who do not have enough money to buy new weapons, the random drops can be a bit frustrating at times. Sometimes the game will throw waves of tough enemies at you in one area, but nobody will drop health in those waves. If you do not have any health potions, then you most likely will have to play that part over and over, or be forced to enter the village to buy health potions and start the level over.
Sacred Citadel is broken up into four different acts, with each act containing five different levels. There is also a bonus fifth act that opens after you play the game with two different characters. Each of the acts contains a village that the player can enter when they are not in a level. Villages contain merchants that sell potions, armor, new weapons, or crystals that give the player a certain bonus over a period of time. There are also challenges that you can wager on. These will put a specific goal on a random level in that act, and if you meet that goal, you will win money. These range from not sustaining damage to beating a level in a certain amount of time.
The most important mechanic in any brawler is the fighting, and Sacred Citadel’s does this well. As stated before, there are two main attacks. You have your standard attack, and a ranged attack. These differ between the characters, the Ranger will shoot arrows while the Mage will launch fireballs towards her enemies. The mechanics are the same for every character, it just looks different between them. In addition to the attacks, you can roll from enemies, or try to block their attacks. Both the block and roll can be initiated at anytime, which makes the game more enjoyable. Sometimes brawlers suffer from animation lock, and that animation must finish before initiating a block or roll, causing frustration. There is none of that in Sacred Citadel; if a block is initiated, the animation will stop immediately.
Visually Sacred Citadel has a great look to it. It is a cel-shaded game, and the environments vary enough that each area feels unique. It also has a good soundtrack that will be reminiscent of games of the past. The voice work is kind of off at times, but it is on par with what you expect in a $15 downloadable game.
Sacred Citadel is a great game to just kill a couple of hours playing without having a complex story to try and get into. It is just about beating up bad guys with your friends, which is always a good time. For the low price of admission, it is a must play for any fan of the side scrolling brawler genre who has missed it the past few years. But if you’re looking for something more than that, begin looking elsewhere.
Sacred Citadel was developed by SouthEnd Interactive and published by Deep Silver for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on April 17th. A copy of the game was provided to us by Deep Silver for reviewing purposes.