The Sacred franchise has garnered many fans since it’s high-fantasy action role-playing content exploded onto PCs back in 2004, and then again in 2008 with the highly anticipated sequel Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. Now though Deep Silver and Southend Interactive are looking to take Sacred in a new direction, one that may see it’s popularity rise with those who haven’t even heard of, or thought about playing, a Sacred title. Of course, this means that traditional Sacred fans have now put their arms in the air letting out a wail of desperation; but worry not for Southend have definitely kept Sacred Citadel in line with the feel and lore of the franchise.
So, what exactly is Sacred Citadel then? Poised as a side scrolling brawler that brings back the arcade stylings of yore to the modern age, this digital download PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 title is an attempt to bring back the bombastic gameplay found in titles like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon yet at the same time set the modern standard of such titles. It’ll deliver both the modern expectations of pure, unrelenting, action, yet it’ll do it while staying true to the genre everyone once loved – and it’ll do it without even leaving Ancaria, although it is set 800 years after Sacred.
Visually this is absolutely stunning – of course this is partly due to the incredibly sharp LEDLCD TV it was displayed on, but the world felt alive with colour and characterisation. While the game is in fact built using a 3D engine, and plays out like a classic brawler with it’s 2.5D gameplay, it looks like you’d imagine a modern day arcade game to look if we were still running in 2D engines. I know that sounds somewhat hard to fathom, but when you see it moving on the screen it just looks fantastic.
Southend have tried to create iconic characters, so that players can instantly recognise them when they come to choose a character – and also if they’ve come from playing other Sacred titles they’ll know near instantly what to expect from each character. Seeing as this is a three player coop game – both online and same screen offline – you’ll be able to choose between a Warrior, Shaman or Ranger. As you can imagine, the Warrior is better at melee and close quarters, while the Ranger is the opposite and the Shaman uses magic to dole out damage. Each character can also be levelled up, which comes about through play and opens up new combos and moves for you to utilise – it’s a similar mechanic to that applied in previous Sacred games.
As Southend and Deep Silver, understandably, didn’t fancy creating a game that’s inaccessible for many to play, you can perform some pretty slick moves and combos if you decide to just mash buttons with whatever appendage you feel suits it best. Alternatively though, there is a deeper combo system that’ll reward you with more damage if you take the time to learn moves and work up your characters levels. It’s a system that’s based on timing to let you execute these full combos, meaning that if you and your cohorts are equally talented you’ll be able to execute group combos and dish out some deadly damage – and that’s not even mentioning individual character charge moves.
If that wasn’t enough to reassure you of how solid a game this is looking, then the addition of directional combos, dodges, environmental hazards and traps as well as in-game mounts for you to control should seal the deal. Combine this with a deep RPG levelling and upgrade mechanic that comes from spending gold and experience, as well as fighting massive bosses, and you’ve just gone and gotten me really rather interested.
Slated for release sometime next year, it seems that Southend Interactive and Deep Silvers gamble to create something new has worked rather well. It’s still a fair way off being finished, however it’s already shaping up to be something that’s rather special, the real test will be how long term Sacred fans feel about it all – after all it has been four years since Sacred 2.