Broken Fortress: Citadels [Review]
Sometimes it’s nice to go back to your roots. That’s the mindset I was in when I decided to take Citadels for a spin, hoping that the Stronghold-meets-Age of Empires formula would rouse a feeling of nostalgia that many of us seem to yearn for. Considering that the formula was already put in place by a successful franchise, it seems that creating a medieval real-time strategy title would be as simple as giving it some fancy graphics and just not screwing it up in any major ways.
Perhaps this assumption is why I was eager to get my hands on the game when it was offered to me. The videos and screenshots posted on Steam only excited me further. I spent much of my time after receiving the game pondering out the best layout for my new kingdom in Arthurian legend. My imaginary kingdom, however, came to a crashing halt very soon into my medieval foray; both literally and figuratively.
I was quick to dismiss my disappointment that my graphics didn’t look like the screenshots. I’d set everything to the highest possible limits, testing out my new gaming rig, but it still seemed slightly…off. Muddy and grainy textures that looked like it was pulled straight from the Age of Empires 2 permeate the entire game. Scale seems to be all wrong as well — buildings seemed larger than the environments they were scattered around. Placing a house on a cliff overlooking an ore mine should invoke a feeling of scale and scope of the world around you, yet a quick about your surroundings leaves you baffled as to why a small home is the same size as a patch of forest.
There are other small graphical glitches and annoyances that would pop up from time to time. The mouse pointer doesn’t always do the greatest job in selecting units, often causing me to click somewhere above or below my intended target in order to select my randomly named worker-bee. There were a few times where workers would get caught against or inside of objects without any way to break them loose. I had hoped that eventually they would starve to death to give me a resource back for an actual productive member of my society, but unfortunately I was stuck with the equivalent of someone in senior level management overlooking the production of whatever resource they were on without doing any actual work.
To my knowledge, I’d assume that the game did that on purpose. I’d often find a worker or two, sometimes even a whole group, just standing around at a resource. They counted towards the limited number of people you could assign to each resource, yet apparently I had spawned the first Workers Union in history as they were on their mandatory break. Fortunately, the grumbles were limited once I cracked the whip to make them get back to work. Unfortunately, resource gathering has a much larger issue than a few lazy workers. I had chronic issues with resources getting stuck, even after a patch was released to fix these issues. It would just stop counting upwards, even as my workers would drop it off at the town hall.
It’s hard to call a game with a game breaking bug like this “fun” unless you are a masochist, which is a shame because the game does seem to have promise. The ideas of what you can build with the multitude of walls, moats and other defenses to keep your kingdom safe are endless; I would have loved to have been given a really solid chance at building an impenetrable fortress. Unfortunately the best I could do was tack together a few stone blocks with mud that could have been blown over with the slightly breeze. $40 is a lot of money to spend on an indie game, especially a broken one. Were the price-point at a more budget friendly price (read: half) or if it were released as an Early Access title, it would be easier to overlook these flaws. At the current state of the game, you’d probably have more fun buying yourself a King Arthur Lego set.