Citadel: Forged With Fire Review: Promising But Flawed (So Far)
Citadel: Forged With Fire's description reads like a D&D fan's sandbox dream game. But in reality, it comes up short in so many areas that it might not be worth buying until the devs address the numerous bugs that plague the game.
I want to preface this review by saying that the game is in Early Access. It is not polished in the least and that's to be expected. That being said, many developers in the Early Access section of Steam make big promises but fail to keep them. The final release of Citadel: Forged with Fire might be bugless, but since it's definitely not as of yet, these issues will factor into my review.
It's also worth nothing that I am writing this just after the patch that introduced the infernal dragon and tried to address the telekinesis issue. Hopefully more of the problems I bring up in this Citadel: Forged with Fire review will be addressed in the future, because this game has a lot of promise so far.
The Basics: Solid Mechanics with Some Flaws
Just like most other sandbox games, Citadel: Forged with Fire gives players a world in which to kill enemies, harvest resources, and build structures while exploring a large map. The difference between Citadel and other sandbox games is in this one you get to be a wizard, witch, warlock, mage, or however you want to refer to the people who do that groovy magic thing.
The map is large and features beautiful scenery with varied biomes. You can wander the woods, climb snow-capped mountains, roam the beach, and explore resource-rich caverns -- all while harvesting different herbs, minerals, and other materials to build castles, craft incredible weapons, and brew some sweet potions. You can fight and tame enemies like dire wolves, blood orcs, and dragons. As you level up, you learn new recipes for armor, weapons, buildings, etc. Of course, you also learn spells! You can throw fireballs, pacify enemies to tame them, and go berserk with an axe...among many other abilities.
Combat in Citadel: Forged with Fire can feel boring at times. Some fights -- especially the more heart-racing ones against dragons -- are exciting. But a lot of the "fights" aren't really fights. There's a bug where enemies just straight up don't attack you. This has happened in the majority of the servers I've played on so far. How can you call them enemies if they refuse to fight you? You're a wizard, Harry, not a blood-crazed murderer. Why should we kill these innocent orcs if they're just standing completely still at their campfires? You still need the resources so you have to kill them, but it makes you feel like a real magical jerk.
The game is also a bit slow depending on your server settings. If you're playing with the vanilla settings, you'll have a long grind to get anywhere in terms of levels, spells, items, resources, etc. But if you play on servers with 2x-10x exp, attribute points, knowledge points, etc. then the first 20 levels go by in a breeze (though the rest still take a while) and PvE combat becomes even less dangerous. Some players like a long grind, while others don't. I wouldn't mind it so much if bugs didn't complicate things (see bugs section).
Hop on a Broom to Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
This is my absolute favorite part of the game. If there's one thing that will draw interest to Citadel: Forged With Fire, it's the ability to soar on a cleaning instrument like a dang Quidditch player. They've also, thankfully, built the map around it so there are fast travel towers placed occasionally for you to walk/fly to.
While the sound design is neither something to complain about or praise, you can tell a lot of effort was put into the graphics and visual design -- so it's definitely worth flying around to take in one of the best parts of the game.
My favorite moment of the game so far was after I finished building my first broom. I flew further north than I had ventured yet on foot. As I pressed forward, off in the distance I was able to vaguely see a giant stone monument built into a mountain. It reminded me of exploring Skyrim for the first time, and I loved it. This is definitely one of the most solidly built features the game has to offer.
Can Be Tamed
Another one of the draws Citadel: Forged with Fire has is its ability to tame enemies. Whether it's an elk to mount or a blood orc to raid an enemy's fortress, you can tame enemies within 10 levels of yours.
Many players have voiced frustration with the system, however, as you have to craft expensive scrolls to keep your pet for more than 4 hours at a time. If you log out for the night, your new best friend might just be gone in the morning.
Another aspect of this feature that players have complained about is your inability to revive dead pets. This is absolutely heartbreaking -- and I did not rest until I avenged my beloved elk, Goofus, whose tale will be told in full soon in another article. Rest in piece, you noble beast.
More Bugs Than a Cheap Motel
Aside from the pacifist enemy bug, there are a ton more. Your game will crash, you will be disconnected from servers, you will lag beyond all belief if there's more than a couple of other players on a server at once, and (most frustratingly for me on the day of writing this review) you can fail to load your previously completed servers and lose all your progress.
Losing your progress in a game with a progression system like Citadel: Forged with Fire is soul-crushing at times. You can put a lot of effort into building a structure or leveling up your character just right, but it might just fail to launch if it's your server, or you might not be able to find the server you joined ever again. The server browser tabs like history, LAN, etc. do not work at all -- so if you have a favorite server, write its name down and keep your fingers crossed it's still up when you come back.
Furthermore, the game is poorly optimized. This is especially a problem for AMD graphics card users. There are times when the game's performance will dip for seemingly no reason. Though, to me, dipping to 25FPS isn't quite as frustrating as losing all your progress.
Should You Buy This Game?
Citadel: Forged With Fire is still very, very obviously in Early Access. It has way too many bugs for me to feel okay suggesting purchasing the game at even a $20 price tag without some serious consideration over whether you want to put up with the glitches or not. However, if you are aware of all the issues the game has and are still wanting to hop on a broomstick or murder an Orcish pacifist, then by all means this might be the game for you to do it in.
Overall, Citadel: Forged with Fire is flawed, but promising so far. It's riddled with so many bugs that it can be a truly frustrating experience to play. But its graphics, spells, flight, base building, and crafting all work well when the game lets you play. If the bugs are addressed, the combat is developed a bit more, and/or some more features are added into the game, this will be a truly great experience.
[Note: Blue Isle Studios provided a code for Citadel: Forged with Fire to the writer for the purpose of this review.]