Unveiled in early August, Sacred Citadel is a new offshoot from the Sacred Action RPG series coming from Southend Interactive who were last seen with the release of Ilomilo. It’s a title not really all that far removed from its roots though, fitting in quite nicely as it takes the form of a 2.5D side-scrolling brawler.
It fits into the series as a prologue to Sacred 3, although one set around 900 years after the events of the original Sacred, where Lord Zane’s Ashen Empire has put together an army of Orc-like creatures called Grimmocs. Up to three players can band together in the drop-in co-op as a group of heroes fighting their way through to defeat this threat.
Despite being part of the Sacred series, Citadel absolutely has its own style and way of going about things. In particular the graphics are heavily stylised and exaggerated, with a bright and colourful palette contrasting heavily with the deep and dark shadows of the wooded section that I saw. It really is quite pretty to look at and immediately puts you in the right mindset for a bit of light brawling fun that calls back to the classics in the genre and arcade gaming.
Naturally, there’s a few different heroes for you to choose from, including the up close and personal Warrior, the bow attacks of the Ranger and the magical side of things from the Shaman; all stylised versions of the familiar character types that you’ll know from the genre and the series.
As you progress each character can get upgraded equipment using cash earned from enemies and levelling up with some RPG-like features. Each character has a pair of weapons to use, and they can easily be switched between to create different combos which should help keep the action nice and varied as you go up against the Grimmoc hordes of various shapes and sizes.
In addition to a variety of enemies of different shapes and sizes, levels are also packed with booby traps and interactive elements. One example that stuck out was a big chunk of tree dangling from vines. It starts off as a booby trap which can easily catch you out, but you can turn it back on the enemy (or mess with your friends if you’re a bit of a prankster) by giving it a big thwack to get it swinging again.
Later on there was a big block raised up by ropes, obviously set to catch you out. However, if you back enemies into the area underneath the rock, the trap will trigger and smash down on them, dealing huge damage to anything caught underneath.
The levels have got plenty of these elements built in, but also feature more call backs to the classic beat-‘em-ups with big ridable beasts and war machines to plough through enemies. Then there are, of course, the giant bosses which fill up your entire screen.
As a downloadable title coming to PSN, XBLA and Steam, this seems like it will appeal to a lot of people. There’s enough knowing inspiration taken from classics like Golden Axe mixed in with a lovely new world and a handful of new ideas, so that this looks to be a nice bit of fun when it’s released some time next year.