Sacred Citadel is a side-scrolling beat 'em up and a spin-off of the Sacred RPG series. You don't have to be familiar with the series to enjoy this; just be a fan of beat 'em ups. Over the four acts, you'll be taking on many creatures: wolves, grimmocs, miners, dragonfly creatures and more.
Four characters are available: Warrior, Ranger, Mage and Shaman. Every characters' focus is different but they all play similar since they all can dual-wield the same weapons. The basic combos are the same and the general idea is to use a few standard attacks then finish off with the heavier attack which can be charged for extra damage. You also have a special move which uses up your power meter but recharges as you attack, or can be replenished by potions.
As you defeat enemies, you will gain experience and each level gives you two attribute points to put into the four areas: defence (HP), attack (damage), power (elemental and special attack) and dexterity (critical hit). You also unlock new combos at certain levels.
The combat relies on a combination of attack and defence. You can block and roll out of danger, which you need to do a lot to prevent being surrounded. Criticisms of the system is that one-on-one, the enemies are a quite often lame and you can pulverise them without them having much chance to recover. The AI is more about mob-mentality, so you can only attack up to the point where his friends come to help him out. Then you need to quickly roll out of the way and begin your assault on another enemy.
Loot will randomly drop from enemies, which consists of weapons, armour, potions and coins. Equipment can only be collected once enemies in the area are defeated. Once standing over it, a pop up window appears to show you the stats, and one button press equips it and drops your current equipment. This keeps the pace flowing instead of having to rummage through the menus.
Most levels are similar in that you move from left to right, killing anything in your path. There are a few differences such as mounts (beasts and vehicles) reminiscent of Golden Axe. There's the occasional environmental hazard like exploding barrels, puddles of acid, fire, falling stones and swinging logs. These cause a hazard to both you and the enemy, so you can use them to your advantage.
Between levels, you can opt to visit the town which gives you an opportunity to purchase potions, equipment, crystals (buff statistics for a limited time) or accept a challenge. Challenges involve placing a bet to complete the next level under new rules. The 'Life' challenge requires players to beat the game without dying, 'Time' gives players a target time to aim for and 'Score' is beating the target score. Failing to beat these tasks will lose betting stake, and winning gets monetary rewards and an icon on the level select screen.
Sacred Citadel is a great side-scrolling beat-em-up. It takes around four hours to complete the campaign which is fine for this type of game. You can extend this further by playing through with another character, or playing co-op with your friends. Graphically, the cartoon-like graphics are crisp and clear. The music is good, although a bit strange at times with a dubstep-esque groove in the main menu.