Sacred Citadel replaces the top down view of the RPG series with a side-scrolling perspective and while there’s nothing particularly innovative about this beat ‘em up, it’ll keep you entertained for a while.
There’s something undeniably charming about beat ‘em ups. Maybe it’s their simplicity, the fact that you can cooperate with friends or the familiar gameplay, but this type of game used to mesmerize so many people over the years and it’s easy to see why. The beat ‘em up genre might not be as popular as it used to and maybe it’ll never reach that level of adoration ever again, but that won’t prevent developers from making more of them. Sacred Citadel is a spin-off that replaces the top down view of the role-playing game series with a side-scrolling perspective and while there’s nothing particularly innovative about Sacred Citadel, it can keep you (and your friends) entertained for a while.
As most side-scrolling beat ‘em ups, Sacred Citadel puts you in the shoes of one of four archetypal heroes, including Warrior, Ranger, Mage or Shaman. These characters can use attacks, finishers, power attacks or defend. As you defeat more enemies, you level up which grants you points that you can spend on different attributes (these include attack, defense, dexterity or power.) To make things easier amid all the chaos that takes place in the themed battlefields, you can use different types of potions and even ride some beasts.
As you’d expect, defeating enemies not only gives you experience points, but you also collect some items. Apart from health potions, enemies leave behind money, which you can use to purchase better equipment. From time to time, you’ll also come across weapons that you can equip instantly and this lets you make more damage as well as receive some elemental attributes. At the end of each level, you face a boss that usually involves something else other than “mashing the light and heavy attacks until you defeat it” which is a nice change of pace.
This wouldn’t be a proper beat ‘em up if you couldn’t team up with a friend (or total stranger.) Sacred Citadel allows up to three people to play locally or online and the former is by far the best experience I had with this game. Although the online multiplayer is competent, it doesn’t support drop-in/drop-out, so if a player leaves a session, the game sends you back to the menu and you lose all the progress you’ve made. Local multiplayer on the other hand, means that you’ll be playing with someone you know and you can communicate which always helps.
The campaign is short (you can finish it in about three hours) though you can certainly replay it with a different character. When I finished the campaign for the first time, I wanted to know what the other characters were about, so I started it again with a different protagonist, but don’t expect this to change the experience substantially.
In the end, Sacred Citadel is a competent yet uninspired beat ‘em up game. The gameplay soon becomes repetitive, the campaign is short and the lack of drop-in/drop-out for the multiplayer really hurts the game. Someone really looking forward to playing a beat ’em up will have some fun with Sacred Citadel, if only for a few hours.