Hey gang, Valkor here. back in October of last year, I took a trip on the wayback machine with 80s inspired remake "Double Dragon Neon"; the game completely rocked my world from the graphics, the action, and the music – THE MUSIC IN THIS GAME! Anyway, the gang over at Southend Interactive and Deep Silver look to stoke my arcade fires once more with a beat em up that's easily a throwback to Sega's classic beat 'em up Golden Axe – Sacred Citadel. Is it a homerun or a swing and a miss?
Sacred Citadel is the prequel to Sacred 3 (released later this year) and trades in its top down view RPG, for a side-scroller, action RPG beat-em up. You'll choose as one of four characters – Warrior, Shaman, Ranger, and Mage, as you fight your way through four acts, containing five chapters of play, fighting off wave after wave of creatures and other mystical beings that stand to get in your way, which include small trolls, grimmocs, riftwalkers, zombie pirates, enemy shaman, killer swamp piranha and giant bosses creatures. The game features some RPG elements such as earning experience points, leveling up, and earning skill points, which can be applied towards four different attributes at the end of a level. Additionally you can purchase or find weapons, potions, armor, crystals, and food in the towns that you'll find in each act or you can get these items from enemy drops. Also in the towns you can find a bookie who'll ask you to place a bet against three different challenges such as "Life" (don't die in a level), score (surpass the set high score), or Time (finish a level in the allotted time).
The combat system is pretty easy to master and I'll contain this section to my favorite go to character - the Warrior. The warrior can double-fist any of the following weapons – sword, axe, or mace as his light attack (square button) and either a large axe or hammer for the heavy attack (triangle). You can string together a series of combos and you can even air juggle your enemies if you time it proper. The X button acts as your jump/double jump and circle gives you a power move that you can charge up to three levels. You also have a block, a dodge, and a run; with the run you can parlay that into a run/slam into the enemies. You can boost certain stats (attack, defense, power) with crystals; when applied they'll only last for a set amount of time. Finally you don't have to rely solely on your skill to get through this game; at various points you can make use of environmental weapons or ride various beasties which you can use against the bad guys. But be mindful because they can also use them against you. However, my personal favorite vehicle is the steam tank because you can shoot cannons as well as run over enemies.
Sacred Citadel can be played either locally with up to three additional players or online and you can use your character that you've leveled up or start with a fresh char. There's also a leaderboard, trophies to be won and there's also a 5th Act that wasn't readily available at the time of I started this review, but I'm hoping it's available soon with more levels to come because this is one beat em up that I don't mind going in for repeated dips.
While Sacred Citadel may not be a grand slam home run, it comes across more like an inside the park job - it still scores pretty big in my book. For starters, the action is pretty simple and easy to dive right into, even with the RPG elements. But don't believe for an instance that it's a simple walk in the park because you'll have to stay on your toes. The bad guys tend to do things you wouldn't expect such as charge you suddenly, leap into trees and attack from above, or disappear in a puff of smoke only to reappear in front of you. Thankfully the game is forgiving and does a nice job of dropping health items, more often than I expected; it's good to have in the beginning levels of the game, but when you're at a fairly high level you won't even care as much because you'll be such a bad ass. The controls are tight, though they feel a bit sluggish at first, but overall very responsive and in no time flat you'll ease right into things. The graphics are quite stunning, watercolor art with a nice level of detail, big bold colors, and tons of foreground/background animation. My favorite stage is the Citadel because it looks so damn gorgeous; easily the best looking stage in the game. Finally, and this is a big plus - drops don't disappear, so you don't have to rush to replenish your health right away if you're taking on a few baddies who will simply sap your life away as fast as you regain it. On the downside, you can't examine/pick up a new weapon until the area is cleared. However it's not a total downer for me as good things come to those who wait. In the end, I'm a huge beat em up fan and I can honestly say Sacred Citadel now ranks as one of my favorites and I hope Southend continues showing the game some love.
I like the music but I'm not in love with it; it's nice don't get me wrong but it's also forgettable.
Mama Grimmoc; she is one nasty character!
Sacred Citadel is available now for PSN, XBOX Live, and STEAM and if you're looking for a awesome beat 'em up with loads of action, peppered with RPG elements that's loads of fun then look no further, ya found it! And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Sacred Citadel a 4.5. And me thinks I need to check out this Sacred series and see what that's all about. The RPG lover in me commands it!