Arcade games came from a simpler time – you had a joystick, a few buttons and a coin slot. Your skill was used to determine how cheap your entertainment was. The games walked a fine line between killing players off and delivering gaming value with a sense of achievement. If you didn’t like the game, you voted with your quarters – and those games which failed to bring players back were carted off, never to be seen again. There was also a social aspect to arcade games – often you were there with friends, all working together (or against each other) to try and see who could last the longest or get the high score – ultimately it boiled down to who paid less for the same experience. Fast forward to today : on the various arcade-like platforms, we simply purchase a full license to play the game – in effect, we hand them all of our quarters first.
First, the sound – for starters, it cuts out. A lot.This is particularly annoying on my 7.1 surround system. The receiver disengages when it finds no audio signal, killing the sound. It re-engages shortly after, causing the sub to make a light popping sound. This isn’t a problem with my sound system; it happens only in Sacred Citadel, usually when there are three or more monsters making sounds simultaneously. I can assure you that during gameplay, this is not a rare occurrence.
Next up is the VO work – voice acting is almost laughable. It’s almost like the voice actors aren’t even aware of the game and are asked to simply read the lines as if they were ordering a pizza.
The combat system is on a pseudo-3D plane – that is, you can move left, right, up, down, as well as jump. As you gain experience you will unlock new combos, which work fairly well. I found that the balancing for weapon cost per level worked well, and there were some nifty effects and properties given to different types of weapons. For example, using a mace would occasionally cause a stun effect, whereas an axe would bypass an enemy’s shield. In the end, a lot of the combat boiled down to pinning a bunch of enemies in the corner, and spamming them with a series of cheap combos.
But you can play multiplayer, right? Yes, yes you can. Playing on one console works well enough, and it pretty much stops there. I have never been able to successfully use the automatic matchmaking service – and I’ve been trying for *weeks*. I was able to get one person to join a match I created. Once. This is a big problem – as it strips away the fun of grinding monsters and earning money and new weapons with friends and strangers.
I’d like to take a moment to point out that on release-day, they had DLC for the game – another 400MS points for Jungle Hunt AKA Act 5. No. Not going to happen, and here’s why – there isn’t enough game to make it an easy recommendation at 1200MS points – the idea of making it 1600 makes my teeth itch. It feels like a shameless cash-grab, and with a final product in this state, it was more than likely rushed out the door. Sadly Sacred Citadel will never garner the attention it could have had they delivered it bug-free and with much better audio presentation. Dig deep enough, and you may find a game worth owning here, but it’s not for everyone – if you’re still interested I suggest you try the demo first. The folks who worked on it were certainly heading in the right direction – Sacred Citadel just doesn’t have enough polish or pull to really keep you coming back for more – an experience I’d rather had not given my bag of quarters up for.