Sacred Citadel is a hack ‘n slasher that pays homage to classics like Golden Axe, while paving its own way in the genre. As either a warrior, ranger (i.e. thief), mage or shaman, the player must battle through four heart-pounding acts to eliminate the Grimmroc forces that were assembled by the evil Lord Zane of the Ashen Empire.
At first glance, the gameplay resembles your typical hack ‘n slasher. The player must hack and maim their enemies into oblivion; cast devastating magic to eliminate large groups of adversaries; and repeatedly stab incapacitated enemies before they recover. The gameplay may sound average on the surface, but Sacred Citadel expands on the ideas that were pioneered during the golden age of gaming and revises them for an entirely new audience.
The similarities that Sacred Citadel shares with games like Golden Axe and Capcom’s Dungeon & Dragons series is obvious. There are creature-like steeds to ride, interchangeable weapons, magic potions, and armies of minions that will invoke nostalgic memories of classic gaming. The game also introduces a colorful cast of minions that would make Death Adder, the end boss of Golden Axe, green with envy. The game world is occupied by a plethora of monsters that range from timid mining dwarves to teeth-gnashing horned giants, among others. When you’re not bashing in the skulls of your adversaries and making them explode into large slabs of steak and smaller chunks of meat, you’re battling larger than life bosses that occupy the entire screen.
The game rewards the player with a comprehensive leveling system that enhances their fighter. Aside from the weapons acquired during combat, experience points are earned each time a creature is killed. When your fighter levels, you can distribute skill points to four different skill categories – Attack, Defense, Dexterity and Power. How you distribute these skill points will determine your fighter’s performance. If you happen to make a mistake, you can reset these skill points by pressing the Square button.
New combos unlock as your character levels, but the more powerful combos are not available until level 10 or higher. Basic combos like the ‘Attack Chain’ and ‘Heavy Smash’ are immediately available for each class. But once your character reaches level ten, class specific combos begin to unlock. Like with any combo system, a succession of buttons must be pressed to execute these moves. In most cases, you can repeat these moves to your heart’s content. Special attacks, on the other hand, are limited to a power gauge that replenishes slowly as you attack your foes.
Special moves unlock like everything else as you level. For example – the mage class doesn’t receive the more powerful spells like Magic Wave until level twenty-two. Be it as it may, the game does a good job of equipping each class with a fair amount of attacks at lower levels.
You can visit the local town in between stages to change equipment and purchase items when you feel like taking a break from slaughtering Lord Zane’s minions. While the town is small and doesn’t offer much interaction, it does contain important vendors vital to your survival. One vendor in particular sells equipment enhancing crystals. These crystals offer Attack, Defense, Dexterity and Power bonuses that will enhance your fighter. Armor and weapon vendors are also present to change out your existing equipment with anything that you acquired from the battlefield. Weapons like axes, swords and large war hammers can be equipped. A stat menu appears indicating the item’s level and any abilities it might possess.
There is also a gambling NPC that allows you to participate in gambling games called ‘Challenges’. The object is to beat the challenge objective to receive the gold payout. These challenges include – Life challenge (play through a level without dying); Time (beat the time given to win the allotted gold prize); and Score (beat the damage score target to win the challenge). These challenges work in conjunction with the main story and they can also be completed during any act.
Sacred Citadel’s controls are rock-solid for a 2D side-scroller. The combos are easy to execute as you mash away at the buttons to bring down your foes. Blocking is also essential as you’re constantly being crowded in by enemies. To block, you must press and hold the L2 button. But again, your ability to block effectively is based on the number of skill points spent in your defense skill.
There is also an online three-player coop feature that can be enjoyed with your friends. However, when it comes to finding random players, the online community is somewhat sparse. It’s a real shame; the game really shines when additional players are present.
With that said, you won’t find anything available today that can match the nostalgic gameplay and graphics of Sacred Citadel. If you’re looking for a game that will challenge your skills as a gamer, while also retaining the flavor of some of the industry’s most memorable arcade games, then Sacred Citadel by developer SouthEnd is definitely the right choice for you.
Platform: Playstation 3 (Also Available for Xbox 360 & PC)
Developer: SouthEnd Interactive
Publisher: Deep Silver
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Eye-popping 2D graphics that pay tribute to the golden age of gaming.|
|Impressive voice acting and a memorable sound track.|
|Hardcore hack 'n slash gameplay with RPG elements.|
|While not a true role-playing game like its predecessors, Sacred Citadel does the franchise justice.|