Sacred Citadel is a hack and slash with RPG elements developed by Southend Interactive and published by Deep Silver. The game is a prequel to the upcoming Sacred 3 and is radically different in tone, genre and art style to anything prior in the series.
The premise of the game is that the evil Ashen Empire has produced an army of creatures called Grimmocs. Warring against the now more peaceful Seraphim, they work to find two artefacts of immense power, allowing them to gain the strength needed to force their way past the cloister gates protecting the Seraphim’s Sacred Citadel.
Not one for exposition, you are introduced to your heroes by some tavern dwellers at a nearby table as some mercenaries. Your relaxing drinking session is cut short mere moments later as a villager announces an invasion of the town. Grimmocs barge their way into the tavern and so begins your quest to defeat the evil Grimmoc warband.
Despite there being a total of four different character classes, each with their own small set of skills, secondary weaponry and cultural background the game supports up to three players at any one time. All four classes have similar movesets meaning that the specifics of how each one attacks is fundamentally the same but leads to slightly different playstyles because of attack timings and special skills.
You start off with a very basic moveset and as you level you gain access to more combos, allowing for more varied combat. You will however get used to using the same combos over and over, as the most effective ways tend to be the easiest. You can mix and match basic, heavy and special attacks to build up your combo but it doesn’t give any bonus aside from score. Juggling your opponents can be fun for a while but knocking your opponents to the floor (if viable) and then hitting them while they’re down can make quick work of many enemies. Blocking plays a bigger part with the larger foes as you can use it to mitigate most of the damage they deal. Good timing and/or blocking enough hits can leave enemies stunned allowing for some easy and safe chances for counter attacks.
As you play through the game you will be able to level up, unlocking more abilities, combos and stat points. Divided into four categories it boils down to attack damage, health, ranged & critical strike damage and elemental damage & special ability charge rate. You will usually find it best to pour all the stats into the damage stats and to base the stat on what you find most appealing to use as your main source of damage.
There are a few mounts in the game, allowing you to use powerful but often frustratingly awkward beasts of war. They have quite a long animation time on their basic attacks, so expect to be interrupted multiple times and getting booted from your saddle frequently. They do however offer protection of your health and high damage attacks to a wide area. They don’t really make or break the difficulty of the area but you are better off riding or ridding yourself of them, as enemy riders can use them to interrupt you easily.
In multiplayer the fact everyone shares the loot, makes it very difficult for everyone to keep at a level playing field. As secondary weapons are unique to the class it may leave some people waiting much longer to get the next buff to their attack strength. Primary weapons and armour are more difficult to fight over as everyone shares the same set of items. It’s not particularly fun to find yourself lacking in strength while your friends power on through enemies with their higher level equipment but it does ease up as you get further into the game, as your tailored stats have a larger effect.
To counterbalance the fact that you won’t get much loot in multiplayer you can visit the town (different in each act). You’ll find little use for it in singleplayer as it’s mostly weaponry and armour that is beyond your level or cash level, however in multiplayer you can make up for your usual lack of loot and make up for any power loss relatively painlessly.
Challenges can be wagered on in towns, randomly assigning you a level for one of the three types of challenge: time, life and score. Relatively self-explanatory, time has you complete the level within the time limit, life has you attempting to not die at all and score has you trying to rack up a score using combo multipliers to hit whatever target you are given.
Enemy AI isn’t particularly intelligent and they can get stuck on objects or attack you from a plane that doesn’t allow them to make contact with you. It’s most apparent in some of the mini-bosses that wander around, do a quick combo and then stop to allow you to beat the snot out of them. Some of the enemies feel more like their sole purpose is to take lots of damage rather than being threat of any real sort.
The story doesn’t offer much but it doesn’t take itself particularly seriously and pokes fun of the tropes it uses. The verbal humour is not particularly funny but the game does do physical humour quite well as you watch things happen in both the background and foreground as you progress through the levels.
Presentation and Audio
The art is highly stylised and it looks quite pretty because of it, the effects are never particularly spectacular but it looks nice throughout. The audio is somewhat interesting, the music may not be the type usually used in the fantasy genre but it does work surprisingly well. As a console port it currently doesn’t support a native 1920×1080 resolution which is a little strange as it is expected for most PC releases.
Reasonably basic hacking and slashing with some light combo gameplay, lets you enjoy the ride through the various locations. It is repetitive and simple at times but some complexity can be found in the combo system if you look for it. The AI isn’t particularly good and it can cause the combat to feel a little weak at those points, also the fact many mini-bosses can be killed outright from the third tier special attack is a little boring. The keyboard controls are a little odd but manageable, the game is however better played with a controller as it was originally designed for.
The game does have a rather good pacing to it even if that leaves it a little short, levels are over before they ever get too boring but some sections will still drag on due to the enemies large health reserves or irritating environmental hazards. The game is a reasonably good hack and slash, boasting a little more replayability than some games in its genre due to its RPG elements.
The game has some nice ideas but it never really brings as many of them into full focus as it should. The RPG elements and combos system are a little light and with more additions to it could have made the combat more interesting. While the difficulty does ramp up a little in the multiplayer it seems more on the side of giving enemies more health than anything more finely tuned.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.