Sacred Citadel review

Reviews David Hayward May 28, 2013

What could have been a great addition to the Sacred family falls foul of poor development

Side-scrolling beat-‘em-ups hold a certain unique charm on the PC. They represent a retro, classic genre that’s been sadly missing from this platform for many years - having since taken hold of the mobile market. Therefore it was nice to see Sacred Citadel adopting this arcade approach, quite a distance from the previous Sacred series.

Where Sacred used to ape Diablo, or Torchlight in its appearance, the developers have decided to use a more cartoon/arcade angle for this release, which still takes place somewhere within the Sacred realm of Ancaria. You still have archetypal characters to choose from (Warrior, Ranger, Mage and Shaman) each with their own special forms of attack and specialties. Yet, despite these different abilities, the game's dynamics means it eventually ends up as a free for all, button mashing, melee, with your character lost behind the hordes of enemies.

The humour of the Sacred series is still there. Elements of comedy are regularly by the various minions of the evil one, although attempts at slapstick skits feel a little forced most of the time.

The concept is simple: frantically hit the keyboard as you travel from left to right in the game’s four acts, each with roughly five or six levels per act. Along the way you’ll accrue experience points, which will level you up and allow you to wield more powerful weapons, and unlock more impressive and devastating combos. You’ll also pick up gold to add to the purse, in order to purchase the aforementioned weapons and various potions that bestow a timed effect on the character and enable it to despatch some of the more difficult henchmen. With each successful wave of attack you’ll gain one of three squares in your power meter, once full you’ll be able to unleash something that’ll knock the socks off the end of the level guardian.

It’s all rather nostalgic in terms of look and feel. The modern touches added to it do the game justice, but also expose a number of problems. For example: the gameplay, classic though it may be, soon becomes repetitive and monotonous. Then there’s the controls, and the bizarre combos of arrow keys being used to achieve the more advanced moves. This, I assume, is a result of the game being designed for a console controller, which leaves you with the feeling that the PC version of the game was an afterthought rather than a complete reworking from the console.

There’s also a generous helping of bugs, which range from a loss of sound to being trapped in the scenery or not being able to collect a pick-up due to some shoddy detection routines. Plus, there’s the ludicrous decision of topping the game resolution to 1600 x 900; you can go higher, but it involves altering the configuration file, something which shouldn’t be necessary these days.

Sacred Citadel leaves you feeling a little cheated in this respect. It would be easy to see this as a rushed console port so Deep Silver could cash in prior to the release of Sacred 3, or a failed mobile version that should never have made its way onto the PC.

Having said that, the game looks good. The scenery and art work is splendid, with a decent background soundtrack to boot, and you do get a three-player on-screen bash.

However, Sacred Citadel is a game you’ll most likely play once, then leave to gather dust on your drive. Basic characters, and an uninteresting story make for a bland return of the side scrolling brawler.

Details:

• Price: £12.99
• Manufacturer: Deep Silver
• Website: goo.gl/QXA6r
• Required Spec: Vista+, 2GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, Nvidia 8600+

Scores:

Quality: 4/10
Value: 5/10
Overall: 5/10