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Sacred Citadel wants your love. The game opens wide with its warm color pallet and fast action promising a tight embrace. It’s poised; it’s ready. The urge is to come closer.

When you do, you get all that is expected from a beat-em-up. No frills. The embrace holds for some time, albeit the love is evaporating.

Right away, Sacred Citadel plumbs the player into a typical adventure / beat-em-up plot — there are evil forces out there scheming to take over the land, the darkness coming ever closer. Taking control of either the Warrior, Ranger, Shaman, or Mage, the player thrusts into the fray fighting for loot and honor (but mostly loot). It’s a disposable story. Even without it, the game would still deliver its goods with everyone none the wiser. And to be honest, a deep story isn’t really what this game goes for. It’s all about the action.

Action is what this game has in droves. The horde never lets up in Sacred Citadel. There is a constant need to dodge, hack, pound, and fire projectile after projectile to keep the baddies at bay. Sacred Citadel is definitely a button masher’s dream. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a beat-em-up after all.

It can still be fun to smash through the familiar enemies, especially with two other players prepared to leave countless bodies in their wake. The game does spice things up to some degree with varied bosses as well as large beasts / vehicles used to plow through enemies when standing toe-to-toe starts to feel passé.

The lull creep in once the player realizes how both the avatars and the enemies smack generical. You’ve seen the Warrior before by many other names,  as well as all the other playable characters. The villains are orcs once you strip away the “grimmoc” moniker. Zombie pirates, bugs that spit poison, monster rams, et al. they’re all borrowed from other adventures, just flared up in a particular art style, wound up, and set stomping toward you. This isn’t aggravating; it isn’t exciting either. It’s just there, like the story.

Sacred Citadel‘s progression system doesn’t stand in the way of the violence, as it shouldn’t. Pick up stronger weapons, armor, and crystal buffs that dead monsters leave behind; and expect to assign level up points at the end of each stage. That’s about it, nothing special or out of the ordinary.

Playing through the five acts is a breeze if you shoot for speed. However, there are plenty of achievements to keep the completist busy. Put that on top of the more traditional time, health, and damage goals for each stage and you have solid replay-ability given you want to power through a game that is already familiar to begin with.

Can you guess the theme here? How about a few hints — familiar, ordinary, generical. Overall, Sacred Citadel meets all the criteria of a traditional beat-em-up, but not much else. Surprises are few and far between, if any. There is some fun to be had, especially in multi-player, but nothing you haven’t seen before.

This review of Sacred Citadel is based on a digital copy for the PC.


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