Developer: Ezekiel Rage
Publisher: Plugin Digital
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rating: T for Teen
Citadale: The Legends Trilogy is an indie title building on the love of the Casltvania series of old. Strap on your armor, grab your legendary blade and hack and slash your way through three titles to uncover the story and save the world.
The game focuses on using common horror tropes such as vampires, zombies, and other abominations to portray its Gothic horror aesthetic. There are also references to holy water as a tool to fight these enemies.
The main characters use melee weapons to defeat foes, but due to the graphical capabilities these are simple colored pixels.
Drug / Alcohol Abuse
There are no specific references to drug or alcohol, although the concept of health potions could be considered drug use
The game focuses on the struggle between good and evil, with you playing the force of good.
When people talk about retro titles, a long list of classic games get mentioned. One of the most popular series from the 8-bit generation was Castlevania and it is clearly the inspiration behind indie title Citadale: The Legends Trilogy. Originally a Wii U game developed by Austrian developer Ezekiel Rage and released in November of 2016, the game has now been repackaged for the PC with added content. The trilogy itself is made up of three games: the original Gate of Souls and two additional chapters. The second chapter adds a protagonist in the main character’s son and the third chapter focuses on one of their descendants.The main game focuses on our hero, Sonja Dorleac. Trained in combat by her husband, he eventually passes the legendary shadow blade to her. Her deceased father-in-law was a former despot who ruled the land with evil intent and is resurrected at the start of the game. Upon his revival, Sonja’s husband leaves to remove the scourge from the land once more while Sonja remains to protect their village. However, it becomes clear that Sonja needs to traverse the land and return to the citadel once more to assist her husband and finally purge the land of evil once more.
The story is told in classic retro style with a brief introduction before pressing start, much like when players left the title screen running on old NES games, there are pieces of dialogue to assist throughout, and the layout of the levels helps to remind players that they are closer to their end goal by ensuring they fit within the plot of the story, for example working your way through graveyards and woods before reaching the castle.
The first thing you notice right from the get-go is how incredibly similar this is to the original Castlevania titles. Simon’s whip is replaced with the legendary shadow blade and the various power-ups have some similarities in function. But for those new to the series, the game is an action platformer where you fight a variety of familiar horror tropes until you reach an end of level boss.The player has two weapons, the primary one being a sword, and the secondary being items collected along the way. This ranges from shuriken which harm every enemy in their path to axes that arc to hit enemies. There is also holy water and a green talisman that restores a proportion of your health. These secondary items are powered by red orbs collected by destroying lamps and collecting the dropped orbs. It is also possible to collect coins this way and chicken legs to restore health.
As you progress, a variety of enemies will attempt to stop you. These can be skeletons, zombies, and other familiar horror abominations. Most are ground-based, but some will fly with a given pattern; some will also throw projectiles. Learning the key to killing these enemies and remembering them is vital as, in true retro gaming style, your health can drop rapidly and food for healing is dropped sporadically.The end of level bosses are also fitting of the original 8-bit style in that they follow a repeated pattern and deal a lot of damage per hit. There are also points of dialogue to help progress the story along.
On the whole, the level design is good, switching from traditional left to right scrolling every now and then is a nice touch that surprises you the first time you encounter it, and on the platforms are well placed and add to the challenge. The boss battles are challenging until you discover their respective attack patterns and then the battles feel a little repetitive. However, hitting an enemy prevents it dealing damage to you for a short period of time—useful in the second level I found—where you are attacked by a flying enemy. There are, however, a few issues with some of the sprites used. Almost as soon as you begin, you struggle to differentiate between foreground and background. This is something that you get used to eventually, but it does add to the difficulty of the game as enemies are often hidden as they move toward you.The gameplay is fun and challenging. Veterans of NES history will feel right at home with the difficulty whereas newer players should make their peace with the idea of a steeper learning curve compared to more modern titles. There were some issues with the controls, mostly that the attack function when crouched is less useful and makes attacking enemies more difficult, but this both minor and easily forgotten.
The largest complaint I have with the game has to be the initial omission of a save function. In a modern world, I feel the majority of fans of titles like Citadael are those who grew up with this style of game. A large proportion of them are now employed in a variety of fields as opposed to having entire weekends to sit in pajamas, eating Lucky Charms and rushing to complete a game before it was due back at the Blockbuster (just me?).
The lack of save feature also made one of the key features the game advertised harder to achieve. The game encourages you to discover secrets to unlock multiple endings—a great premise but often difficult to achieve. Thankfully this was patched in later as a quick save option, but could be further improved to include multiple save files.The music is one of the finer points of Citadael, and again, adds to the nostalgia factor while giving you a novel experience during gameplay. Combined with a well thought-out aesthetic that both fit in with and builds on the 8-bit feel, it provides a game that looks and sounds amazing, and will appeal to nostalgic fans and new players alike.
Overall Citadael is a fun and challenging Castlevania clone with some great twists and its own spin in places. It doesn’t quite hit the level of quality of the Castlevania games, but it both looks and sounds impressive and genuinely shows itself off as a labor of love that is well worth a play.
Review code generously provided by Novy Unlimited
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The Bottom Line
Citadale: The Legends Trilogy is a fun and challenging nostalgia trip in a similar vein to the Castlevania series. It is a great purchase for nostalgia fans and new players looking for a game with more challenge than modern platformers.