Review: Sacred Citadel pays homage to beat ‘em ups of the past with modern prowess
The Sacred series is back with a spinoff game called Sacred Citadel. Unlike the other action RPGs in the series, Sacred Citadel is a 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up that takes place in the Sacred world but plays nothing like what you’re used to. Sure, there is loot, armor, weapons, attacks, magic, and all the other stuff you know and love, but can a different style game still deliver the Sacred quality we expect?
You can choose one of four characters: a warrior, a ranger, a shaman, and a mage. The characters all wear the same types of armor and can use the same kinds of weapons, though each has unique abilities and spells. While you can play with two other friends at the same time, only one of each character type can be played at once. Each character levels differently and has unique gear.
Besides the cartoony art style, my favorite part of this game is the combos. Sacred Citadel is a brawler that plays like a fighting game. While you’re slicing through your foes, you have the option of knocking them around, stunning them, and even popping them up for juggle-esque combos. You'll just have to decide if you’re going for raw damage, flavor, or crowd control. Now factor in other players and you create layers of possibilities, like when harmless juggling becomes short-lived tennis. If you’re competitive and prefer playing for points over group synergy, go for a higher damage output. High defensive characters will suffer in point races though.
The enemies get more difficult and complex as you get further into the game. While the combos do an excellent job of making combat more interesting, the fighting can definitely get a bit repetitive at times. The levels are short and the boss fights take some decisive button inputs.
Speaking of buttons, I played Sacred Citadel on PC, and I definitely recommend playing with a controller.
Between levels, you can visit cities where you spend the gold you make while adventuring. Here, you can buy better armor and weapons in case you’re getting unlucky in the fields. There are also trials you can bet on, saying you won’t die or will beat the level in under X amount of time. The crystal vender offers temporary buffs to help you complete levels and to get rid of the extra coin you have. Upgrading your weapons is available at the blacksmith. He can bring your weapons and class items up to date in case you discovered some in a level but weren’t high enough to equip them yet.
Like most best ‘em ups, story isn’t a strong point here. While the writing is amusing, the plot remains more on the bland end. Even the intentions of the villains seem predictable. With that said, this pays homage to classic arcade style beat ‘em ups. Sacred Citadel focuses far more on gameplay than plot, and I’m fine with that. The cutscenes and dialogue are completely skipable if you’re someone who likes to get straight down to action.
Oh, and the music takes me back to a familiar sounding, yet hipper, version of music found in classic brawlers.
Sacred Citadel is $15 and is definitely worth that in potential gameplay hours. With four characters and the need for multiple playthroughs to get the full experience, you’re looking at tons of hours of gameplay. At the same time, the characters don’t necessarily play differently enough to want to play all of them. With a single runthrough taking approximately 4 hours, you’ll be looking at the same content multiple times over on multiple replays.
Still, if you are friends with two diehard beat ‘em up fans, definitely pick this up and breathe in the nostalgic air with them.
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ