Have you ever looked for an excuse to put off work so you could goof around for a few more minutes or hours? Sacred Citadel is the video game version of that excuse. The entire game is a fusion of simple gameplay and ease of use wrapped up in a brightly-colored brawler shell.
Sacred Citadel initially has the bread and butter of the brawling genre. There are four characters to choose from and each character has the exact same basic combos; most of which end in a knock back for in-game mob management. A leveling system is in place to gain new combos and add stat points to strengthen attack, defense, critical hits and magic attack. An attack chain system is in place to help determine score. There are four acts with five levels per act, and the game is a linear plow through all the levels.
Where Sacred Citadel shines is the game’s combination of efficient gameplay features. Each character has a secondary weapon with a charge function. While all characters have the same basic melee moves, the secondary weapon decides the role of the character. The archer can attack from a distance as he should. The mage and shaman classes can be mid- to long-range support or add status effects to melee attacks. The stats actually increase damage and defense alongside the level increase, allowing a player to easily customize their character. The game features a dodge roll—a very useful mechanic to keep from enemies from ganging up on you and entirely turns what could have been a run-of-the-mill game into something enjoyable to play. Most importantly, the game is very easy to pick up and play for any length of time.
Both local and online games can support up to three players. A player can’t join mid-game in a local match, but the option for “jump in; jump out” co-op is present for online play. The cut-scenes, including the in-level voiced scenes, can all be skipped. Levels are short. Bosses are quite fun, a little varied, and in most cases are part of where the game’s challenge lies. Enemies constantly drop items to help the player along without making the game too easy. This seems a deliberate choice to keep the flow of game consistent and not frustrating. Dying only sends the player back a to the last checkpoint.
The game is fairly easy apart from the boss battles. This lack of difficulty seems part of the same deliberate attempt to keep the flow of the game. Players looking for a challenge might be more interested in Sacred Citadel’s other features. Each level has time, health and score challenges available. Each character has 35 titles to try to accomplish – some of them approaching insanity, such as juggling an enemy for 40 seconds. If this does not seem like enough, the player can reset a character’s level from the character select menu and start over again to challenge themselves further. The game is short, but the replay value is tremendous; especially if a player is trying for all of the game’s trophies.
The plot is skeletal and not above poking fun at itself. All the characters are nameless adventurers or mercenaries. The plot is essentially: Defend the village! Defeat the Grimmocs! Retrieve artifact for questionable person! Whoops! Shouldn’t have done that! Fix the mistake with your blades! And then the credits roll. The game is a definite prequel for a later title, but is also self-contained within the available 20 levels. There is very little characterization for anyone in the game—though the Grimmocs have the same basic social structure as Ma Beagle and her Beagle Boys. There are some funny background events and a lot of the flavor text, especially in the titles each character can unlock, is pretty fun to read.
The voice acting is good and the sound effects are decent. Sometimes the sound effects were canceled due to lag in online games. The soundtrack is average. Graphically, the game is bright and more than a little cartoonish—like a Nickelodeon animation aimed at older audiences. Then an enemy explodes into a grievous meat shower. The graphics work very well for the title, and there is absolutely no slowdown.
The game’s few detriments are the lack of online players. This is a shame both due to the aforementioned ease of use, and since servers seem to include Europe and North America. Very rarely a character’s moves are canceled due to lag in online play. The game is not difficult when playing solo, and there is no way to adjust the solo difficulty. Co-op does seem to increase the difficulty level.
Sacred Citadel is easy to get into and very easy to lose track of time while playing. Sacred Citadel is also very fun. The easy move set, complemented by the addition of a dodge roll; combined with the Action RPG elements and encased by really good local and online ease of entry make for a truly fun title to keep any player busy for at least an afternoon. Until your friends get online or crash on the couch, and then Sacred Citadel sees another play. And another. And maybe one more round before you head to bed, just to rack up a few more kills for the Vanquisher title.