Platform | Release Date
360, PS3, PC | April 16, 2013
Developed by Southend
Published by Deepsilver
Sharpen your axe, string your bow, brew your potions! Ancaria needs heroes like you. Grab your friends to join the resistance!
The once peaceful land of Ancaria is in grave danger. The evil Ashen empire has enslaved its population and is using the orc-like Grimmoc to wipe out the Seraphim, who swore to protect it. In order to defeat the empire you will have to prove yourself as a warrior by riding terrifying mounts, acquiring earth shattering skills and looting powerful weapons and valuable treasures. Grab your friends and join the resistance!
Ever have a relationship that just didn’t work out? The other person didn’t technically do anything wrong, but there just wasn’t that spark necessary to feel anything meaningful? That is Sacred Citadel. Much like someone you meet at a bar and date for nine weeks, it has its merits, it has its flaws, but ultimately ends up just being a short chapter in your life.
Sacred Citadel first caught my fancy with the allure of being an old school brawler in a fantasy setting. You’re thinking the same thing I am, “I LOVED Golden Axe so what could possibly go wrong?” Well, technically speaking, there’s nothing wrong here, but there’s nothing to write home about either.
Sacred employs the popular, and fast approaching overused, cel-shaded art style to thrust you into a medieval world of beasts and magic. The graphics have a solid, colorful pop to them and character designs vary from slightly interesting to generic. The archetypal barbarian, shaman, mage and ranger classes are all present and accounted for, as well as an evil army of “Orcs” that go under a different name. Again, none of this is a bad thing, it’s just been done a million times before.
Controlling characters feels tight, and the combat mechanics and strategies are shockingly similar to Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Alien Storm or any other game that came in an oversized black box with a grid pattern on it. I applaud this. No, like, I literally said, “Well done, game!” out loud when I was able to defeat a boss by using the “diagonal walk” strategy to get past its attack animations. So yeah, Sacred Citadel does some things right, and it doesn’t wear out its welcome being only four major chapters long (five with the included DLC code we received for review).
The problems start when you mix in the persistent character mechanics. These were no doubt added to increase replay value, however there isn’t much to draw you back into the game once you beat it. Each chapter has an extra level that unlocks after its requisite boss battle, but there is very little incentive to level your hero to the high stats needed to tackle these. There could be a little more interest in a couch co-op session, but I reviewed this on PC where I literally couldn’t find a single session to join, or find a partner to join the lobbies I created.
Sacred Citadel ends up being a short footnote in the 2013 gaming landscape. It offers a decently crafted experience that unfortunately lacks anything of true interest to engage players for more than a playthrough. Again, while there is nothing technically wrong with the game, it feels uninspired and by-the-numbers which is a shame coming from the folks at Southend Interactive who made a title as inspired as Ilomilo. Sacred Citadel could be a budget purchase for a one night couch co-op session, but don’t expect much more than that from it.