Sacred Citadel is a new-school brawler that plays like and pays respects to classic old-school brawlers.
Even before I started up Sacred Citadel on my Xbox 360, I had heard comparisons between it and the arcade brawler Golden Axe. But that still didn’t make my smile any less wide as small glimpses homaging Sega’s classic game graced my television: innocent villagers fled in panic as gangs of hulking baddies started taking over the terrority. Even the background music, especially during the game’s opening level, featured hints of the Golden Axe soundtrack, something that I instantly recognized as it has been permantently engrained in my brain from innumerable hours playing the game during the Sega Genesis days.
Players choose from 4 different classes, the warrior, the ranger, the shaman, and the mage. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses. As you play Sacred Citadel, each enemy kill will award you with experience points. If you earn enough XP your character will gain a level, and award you with points to add to their attributes (strength, defense, etc.). As you gain levels, you’ll also unlock new moves and attack combos.
Enemies will occasionally drop health and power potions, as well as weapon and armor upgrades.
Because this is a brawler game, it’s best enjoyed with friends. You can play couch co-op (local multiplayer) or you can play online multiplayer. The only problem is that you cannot seem to do both, with you and a buddy at your house playing with additional online friends.
I played Sacred Citadel with my 6-year-old son, and while there were moments of difficulty (especially, mini-boss type enemies), we were able to make it through several of the levels in the first act. There are four total acts, each consisting of five levels.
Sacred Citadel may be old-school in its homages, but it is modern (and forgiving) in others. If you die when playing with others, your friends can revive you by standing over your body and pressing the an action button. This will revive you with enough health to take a few blows before you’re back on the ground. If all characters die, you’ll only be whisked back to a checkpoint within the level rather than back to the level’s beginning.
It’s not “modern” enough though, that you can rush into any situation and hammer on buttons. Boss-type characters will definitely challenge (and possibly frustrate you), but thankfully follow a particular pattern, something that us old-school gamers thrive on. Once you figure out the flow, the tide turns in your favor.
The graphics are quite beautiful, with each area and act consisting of unique environments that change up enough where I never found myself getting bored with the scenery.
Voice work is probably Sacred Citadel’s weakest point, but considering the game’s true focus is to kicks ass and take names, and not have meaningful discussions, it’s not a huge deal.
If you finish the game and are craving more, Sacred Citadel has a downloadable add-on called Jungle Hunt which adds a new act which includes three additional levels.
Sacred Citadel is available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, the PlayStation Network, and Steam for $15 (or 1200 Microsoft Points). Jungle Hunt, the downloadable content, is available for $5 (or 400 Microsoft Points). The Xbox Live Arcade version of Sacred Citadel was played for this review.
I highly recommend talking a look into Sacred Citadel, especially if you’re a fans of both classic brawlers and beat-’em-ups like Double Dragon and Golden Axe and modern ones like Castle Crashers. There a lot of fun to be had, playing co-operatively with others. For old-school gamers like me, I had a huge smile on my face the whole time, but especially when I recognized the subtle homages to games of yesteryear that the developers threw in.