Deep Silver’s Sacred franchise is about to kick things up a gear, with not only a third title on the way but also a spin-off. A bold move for any franchise, Sacred goes one further by offering Sacred Citadel as a downloadable title entirely removed from the franchise’s traditional action role-playing game (RPG) formula. Many series have branched out in a similar fashion you may think, but whether or not Deep Silver’s faith in Sacred is misplaced remains to be seen.
Ignoring the fact that that Sacred Citadel is part of an already established franchise for a minute, we come across a bold and colourful scrolling beat-‘em-up designed for three players. Much like Nexon Europe’s Xbox LIVE Arcade debut, Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre, Sacred Citadel features a system of skill tress and experience point collection that allows players to customise each of their characters as they wish. The typical starting points of tank (Safiri Warrior), ranged (Ancarian Ranger) and support (Khukuri Shaman) classes have been showcased so far, but each has special abilities that can be nurtured to push the character beyond its immediate labelling. So much so infact, that the developer presenting Sacred Citadel gleefully offered 2K Games’ Borderlands as a comparison when discussing the ‘iconic characters’ that are set to feature in the final build of the videogame.
The combat system featured in Sacred Citadel is truly a step ahead of the competition. Static animations for the two series of three-hit combos available to each character is a limitation that will be a thing of the past if Sacred Citadel has its way. Each character has a series of interchangeable move sets that evolve with each subsequent button press. Blossoming out from an opener into a funnel shaped tree of follow-up possibilities, ever-increasing until reaching the point of enemy death or fully executable special, figuring out how to draw the most out of your fighter on the battlefield promises to be just as great a challenge as making your way through the videogame in its entirety. Sacred Citadel is designed to be one of those videogames in which you continue to find new nuances even after completion, and signs are positive that it will achieve that goal.
But of course, when acknowledging that Sacred Citadel is a part of the Sacred franchise, we have to make room for an explanation of exactly where it fits within the fantasy universe. Set one hundred years prior to the events of Sacred 3, Sacred Citadel promises to establish a number of plot strands that will be concluded in its bigger brother. At present this seems to work in a similar fashion to The Matrix Reloaded and the collected works of The Animatrix, wherein Sacred Citadel will introduce elements which are then referred to or explored in more depth in Sacred 3, but not to the point where players of the retail product will be lost without having first invested in the digital release. An intriguing angle for Sacred Citadel to take most certainly, and one which Electronic Theatre is keen to witness pan out.