At times the campaign’s objectives can be a bit confusing. You’ll sometimes feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to do but things just aren’t going your way. If you’re accustomed to playing other RTS games previous to Citadels, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll know what to do off the bat in this game. This includes everything down to basic unit training. Instead of creating structures which produce units of a certain type, you’ll produce villagers always and need to send them to structures that will train them to be warriors, marksmen, trebuchet units, and so on. This can be frustrating at first, but once you get a grip on things you’ll understand why it was done this way. Citadels aims to provide a unique and refreshing experience in the Real Time Strategy genre, and does pretty well to accomplish this but not as well as the initial screenshots, developer diaries, and overall impression of the game that was given to us leading up to launch had led us to believe. In the end, Citadels had a lot of potential that it didn’t deliver on but it’s not all bad news.
Regardless of how old your computer hardware is, the game should run pretty decent once you get the settings that work best for you worked out. There is a bit of a hog on resources going on but you’ll be able to take advantage of this resource pool by producing a surprisingly large amount of units, structures, and fortifications such as large-spanning walls. Sometimes things can end up becoming a war of attrition as you just can’t seem to get the edge over an enemy. Further advancement in the game leads to supreme knowledge of its inner workings however, and careful / tedious planning of exactly how you want to do things from the start are rewarded greatly for those who become experts of the Citadels experience.
Each character you create in the game has a different name, which is interesting. Each individual is capable of building, though they’ll work faster as a group and will need to make a quick run back to the City Hall to grab the appropriate tools. If you’ve got the hardware for it, this game’s graphics can get to a highly impressive level that matches what was shown in the target renders and developer diaries released by bitComposer leading up to the Citadels release exclusively on PC. In addition to offensive and defensive structures, players will also be able to create resource-gathering stations such as mining facilities, farms, and lumber facilities. The controls are pretty straightforward, but could have been done a little better. You’ll enjoy the typical RTS style of having a mini-map that you can click on while telling your units where to go and being able to zoom in and out of the playing field at great degree. Convenient alerts tell you whatever’s going on when your troops are not on-screen, and this of course sets the bar as at least satisfying the bare minimum for RTS functionality that many developers seem to have forgotten which is appreciated.
One thing about Citadels that should definitely be triumphed is its defensive structures. The turrets, towers, and blockades that can be built in this game and the matter in which you go about building them truly allow for extremely fortified bases to be built. You can even create moats around your base, meaning there’s pretty much nothing stopping you from creating castle-cities even in skirmish / multiplayer settings. Of course this only makes sense, since the game’s campaign centers around the era of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round. However, it’s still something we don’t normally see fleshed out this completely in the RTS genre. The developers at Games Distillery have also given you the option to choose the opposite side of the struggle by playing as the crew behind Mordred who is dead set against King Arthur and all that he represents. Legendary characters are unlocked as you go through the campaign mode to the game, and this is great for people who are familiar with the historical history this game is based on. You don’t need to know who these people are to enjoy their stats boosts though of course.
Something that we love about Citadels (but others may not) is the fact that the game has a fairly traditional RTS approach to resource gathering. Too often these days you’re tasked with really confusing and / or boring ways of gathering resources. For better or for worse, Citadels makes us feel at home again with the way you chop down trees and mine for ore – we missed that in other RTS games. Unfortunately training troops and doing battle can be really frustrating and confusing. Every time you think you’ve created the perfect force to match and out-do your opponents set up you are stricken down with a big, fat “nope” and must try again. Luckily, the enemy A.I. is pretty bad and mostly just sits there waiting for you to rebuild and invade again.
The tutorial is extremely long to this game, which would be a good thing if it actually taught you what to do in a coherent way. Unfortunately, the tutorial will end up confusing and aggravating you more than anything. It’s difficult to figure out at first exactly what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to do it because of the way the tutorial is worded and the way you interact with the game’s user interface.
What would have already been a steep learning curve for RTS and non-RTS veterans alike is exacerbated by the way the game’s ore resources blend into the map, peasant units never stop forming even though you probably haven’t realized for hours that you’re supposed to send them to the various structures to turn them into other units, and on top of all of this you are going to need to use mainly trial and error to figure out which units are useless against certain defenses the enemy presents. Building defenses in this game is an amazing and complex experience, which is really rewarding and gratifying for any RTS veteran that has dreamed of building his/her own castle kingdom. Unfortunately, the game is pretty much always going to pit you in the offensive, aggressive attack role so the majority of the time your castle-building is a big waste of time – unless of course you are doing some online multiplayer which is a blast if you’ve mastered the game.
Engine Performance: We did unfortunately experience some crashes and bugs in the game related to the tutorial and hardware demands Citadels presents, however since this is a PC game it’s difficult to determine if these issues were strictly related to our test machine or would be experienced across the board on other people’s machines as well.
Final Verdict: Citadels is a solid game, it just might not be for everyone, and it’s not without its fair amount of frustrations and much needed improvements that you’ll be saying to yourself “Why didn’t they do it x way instead? That would have saved me so much time figuring things out.” and you’re probably right. If you’re an RTS fan and you love getting into the nitty gritty of learning each RTS game out there experiencing the King Arthur story will be special, building castle defenses more intricately than you’ve probably seen before will be thrilling, and the return to a slower-paced, tactical, resource-based RTS experience that genre veterans may be craving for should also be refreshing.
I really want to like this game, and in some cases the nostalgia of playing in RTS this way is really padding the points and experience you’ll have if you’re like me and have been playing RTS since you were just a wee lad. However, certain problems with the game prevent me from scoring it higher. RealGamerNewz grants Citadels a solid 5.9 out of 10 and we urge developer Games Distillery as well as publisher bitComposer to bring out a sequel to this game that is more streamlined and noob-friendly as well as more logically intuitive for the gamer mindset of today.
Overall Score: 5.9/10
Developers: Games Distillery
Available On: Computer
Review Copy Info- A digital voucher for this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this review.