The Lazy Brawler: Sacred Citadel [Review]
May 1, 2013
Evil picked a bad time to flare up because you’re an adventurer who currently has no adventure to go on, so you’re free to pick a fight. Sacred Citadel is a brawler in which you play one of four adventurers looking to take down an ancient evil. Yes, generic story is generic, but I doubt you’re interested in a brawler for the story.
You can choose to play as a warrior, ranger, mage, or shaman, and I originally thought that each class would have a specific stat focus upon choosing them. You know, the warrior would have a strong melee attack, the ranger would do a lot of ranged damage, the mage would do a lot of magic damage, etc. This was far from the case. In actuality, each class starts off pretty even. Everyone dual wields melee weapons and the only real difference between the classes are their secondary weapons. The warrior can use a large hammer, axe, or sword, the ranger uses a bow, the mages staff casts projectile magic, and the shaman also casts a form of magic, but is more of support class; healing and buffing allies with her magic.
In order to get the most out of any class it’s up to you to choose the right stats in four categories: attack, defense, dexterity, and power. Attack and defense are self-explanatory, but dexterity increases ranged damage and chance of a critical hit while power increases elemental damage and fills your power meter faster. If you try to make your stats even across the board you will find yourself hacking away at enemies forever since you’re not really strong enough in any category to do real damage. I fell into that trap early on because I assumed (incorrectly, of course) that each class already had some type of boosted stat to match their weaponry.
Stat points are obtained by leveling your character through battle, but besides using stats to make you stronger you will also find new weapons and armor as you kill enemies. You’ll run across all types of weapons like swords, maces, axes, etc. Too bad there is no difference between them; they just look different. One would think that there would be a speed difference between a sword and a mace, but not in this world. The only thing you need to pay attention to is how much damage the weapon does and what element it uses.
For physical attack classes like the warrior or ranger, elemental damage adds a bit of a kick to your weapon, giving you a chance to do some type of elemental damage like setting an enemy on fire or electrocuting them during an attack. Elemental damage is much more important to magic classes like the shaman or mage because it changes the type of magic they do and the effects of it. For example, if the mage has an ice element, she has a high chance of freezing enemies for extended periods of time.
Each class has their own power attack which can only be used when a portion of the power meter if full. There are three sections of the power meter, and depending on how many sections are filled you will do stronger power attacks. The warrior and ranger are the only two that do attacks that deal damage, while the mage and shaman are more of support classes. For example, the mage has one power attack that can slow down time, while the shaman’s first power attack heals.
Sacred Citadel tries not to be a button masher by having a move set for combos. The move sets are pretty basic and don’t differ by class, so switching between classes shouldn’t provide a challenge. Everyone gets a move that knocks enemies back, another that launches them in the air, one that stuns, and at least one that is unique to the class. There is only one air combo, so your options are pretty limited once you get enemies airborne.
Honestly, the combos are only there for variety as they provide no strategic advantage against enemies. While there are different types of enemies, there are no differences in how they need to be handled. In many brawlers you will come across enemies that you need to get off their feet to really deal damage, or perhaps get behind them somehow. Not here. If you wanted to you could just use the same combo over and over and it would work just as well as if you were switching combos up. When I was feeling lazy I would just constantly use the combo that knocked enemies back.
The enemy AI was a bit lackluster. Enemies very rarely blocked and never countered anything. Also, you will see many times where enemies just stand around and do nothing. They are just standing there waiting for you to attack them. This was very prevalent with the BOSSES! The only difference between the bosses and regular enemies was that you can’t knock bosses back, and with many of the bosses you couldn’t dodge roll through them.
If you block at the same time someone attacks, you stun them. This was the winning strategy for all of the bosses. Funny thing about that, though, is that you really didn’t need to be precise or quick with your reflexes. If you blocked two or three seconds before the boss made the hit they would still get stunned; removing any type of challenge or excitement from fighting them.
To make up for the weak enemy AI, in later levels the developers gave enemies an unbelievable amount of HP. I would get a group of enemies in the corner and it would take minutes of constant hacking to kill them. My friend who played co-op with me was UNABLE TO DAMAGE ENEMIES with melee attacks at this stage, and his magic power barely did any damage. Luckily for us the mage has a power attack that turns all enemies into chickens which is an insta-kill. This saved us a lot of time.
There are four acts to fight through — each with its own enemies and environments. The different environments offer different traps and hazards you have to watch out for, but like I said earlier there is little difference in how you fight the enemies. Some of the enemies, however, were quite annoying. There was one enemy that threw these little bombs around the level that would explode; knocking you down and annoying you. The other enemies that I grew to hate with a passion were these piranha-like things with legs. They would jump in the air out of water (where the water covered them and you couldn’t even see them) and damage you. I hope whoever created those things stubs their pinky toe tonight.
I ran into quite a few bugs, most of which have to do with being damaged or hit by things that aren’t there. There were times when no enemy would be attacking me and suddenly I would take damage and fall. There were two bosses I fought that would lunge in my direction, be at least a few feet away from me when the landed, but I still was damaged. While playing the DLC I experienced two game-breaking bugs that almost caused me to have to restart the level. A bit more TLC could have been given here.
Even though the combos didn’t mean much and the enemies were lackluster, my co-op partner and I started off having a fun time with the game. In later stages, however, the game became a chore and we were glad to finish it. At best this game is an extremely casual brawler, and for the $15 it costs you can probably find something better to play. Between the lazy AI and the bugs that we ran across, Sacred Citadel definitely could have used more time in development to make it a more interesting game. It’s not a bad game, but I would only recommend it to players who are looking for a very casual brawler with a low difficulty.
Out Of 5
One of the best parts of the game is how it looks. I love the art style and the coloring as well as the look of the characters and enemies.
Sound effects and voice overs were done well, and the menu music reminds me of something RZA would make. However, the end game music was repetitive. Luckily it wasn’t annoying.
Can be played with Mouse/Keyboard or gamepad with completely customizable keys. No problems here.
The gameplay isn’t memorable at all as you hack and slash your way through faceless enemies. The part that drags it down is the weak AI and bugs.
By myself I wouldn’t have finished the game, but with a friend it can be enjoyable. Toward the end we fought enemies that had way too much health, so this caused the game to become a chore.