Ever play Ark: Survival Evolved and thought to yourself, “This would be better if it had less dinosaurs and more wizards in it”? Well, you’re in luck – Citadel: Forged with Fire lets you live out your survival dreams as a wizard in a fantasy world that’s full of enemies to kill, items to craft, and creatures to tame as you stake your claim as the most powerful being in the land.
Citadel: Forged with Fire isn’t too over the top with its survival needs, with the player not having to worry about keeping themselves fed or anything. However, it does have all of the hallmarks of the genre in the other aspects of its design: you’ll have to go out and gather resources, level up your character to improve their abilities, craft a vast array of items and buildings (including your own wizard tower) and then head out into the wild to slay enemies. It doesn’t change the formula up too much, so anyone who has played a similar game before will be able to grasp the concept easily.
If you haven’t played a survival game though, you’re in for a rough ride. Whilst Citadel: Forged with Fire does come with a tutorial that introduces you to the main mechanics, it leaves a lot of aspects unexplained and up to the player to figure out. Given that it’s a menu-heavy game, this can be quite daunting at first – especially on console where it isn’t so easy to just scour through each tab on the menu to figure things out. It’s not that there’s anything too complicated, but rather that it does take time to learn the ins-and-outs of what you need to do.
Crafting plays a big role in the game, whether that’s to unlock new items or put together a building to act as a base. You can head out to gather the materials you need to craft across the world, whether that’s by smashing at trees and rocks non-stop or by slaying enemies and looting them. You’ll unlock new crafting options as you level up your character too, so there’s always something to work towards as you slowly develop the wizarding crafting catalogue of your dreams. The crafting tools are pretty simple to follow too, whilst constructing buildings is also straightforward (albeit a little fiddly on occasions thanks to the use of a controller).
The only problem with crafting? Gathering resources. Some of the things you’ll want to craft will require a ton of resources and finding them isn’t a quick process. In fact, you can expect to spend hours on end chopping up trees or smashing rocks in order to get the material required to build your perfect base, whilst some materials are so difficult to find that you’ll easily see yourself spending a lot of time simply scouring the dangerous land to find them. Whilst there’s no denying that it’s rewarding when you have finally put together that perfect base for yourself, you’ll need a hell of a lot of patience (and free time) to hit that point.
A lot of your time will also be spent killing enemies, with the combat in Citadel: Forged with Fire proving to be decent – there’s a good variety of weapons to use, whilst the mechanics are simple enough that most players will be able to be proficient with whatever they find. Of course, you’re a wizard, so you’ll also be using a lot of spells. These spells come in four different varieties (area of effect, blast, utility and self) with each type bringing something different to the table based upon what you want: if you want to look after your own well-being you’ll want to go for the ‘self’ spells for example, but if you want to wreak havoc on your foes the ‘area of effect’ or ‘blast’ spells are useful. You’ll have to craft a lot of these spells if you want to use them which is peculiar, but at least it means they’ll be drip-fed to you over the course of the game.
Players should be warned though: Citadel: Forged with Fire’s enemies don’t go down without a fight. I found myself mauled to death by nearby boars within my first five-minutes of playing, whilst a group of sprites also took me out when I decided to venture a little further out into the world. To the game’s credit, it does tell you the general level of the enemies in the area you’re exploring, but even the ones you match up to can kill you with minimal fuss. Naturally, as you progress through the game and level up you’ll become strong enough to take most foes on, but those initial few hours can be painful. It’s worth noting that whilst you respawn immediately after death, you do lose the items you’ve collected – you can recover them if you return to the point of your death though, but you do run the risk of getting wiped out by the same enemy again…
As you kill enemies, gather resources, and clear some of the simple missions you find in the game, you’ll earn experience points to level up. The levelling up system is pretty robust, with the player able to improve their health, strength, mana, and inventory capacity as they level up, whilst new crafting options will also become available too. Eventually, you’ll even be able to gain access to a broom, which is simply brilliant – not only will you get massive Harry Potter vibes as you speed across the skies of the world with your makeshift Nimbus 2000, but it’s also the best way to explore the world. It’s just super satisfying.
Want to know what else is satisfying? Taming the creatures of the wild, with the player able to tame the likes of direwolves, bears, horses, and even monsters to work alongside them. Best of all, you’ll also eventually be able to tame a dragon, which is undeniably brilliant and allows you to both soar across the skies and unleash destruction. What more could you ask for from a fantasy world?
That being said, Citadel: Forged with Fire does have its share of issues that do hold it back a bit. There’s the aforementioned repetition that comes with resource gathering and the fiddly menus for example, whilst there is a lack of missions to give you a sense of purpose in the world – sure, it’s fun to have a fantasy sandbox, but I did wish that it’d give me something to work for along the way. Add to that the occasional drop of frame rate during busier sections of the game and it’s clear that it isn’t perfect.
The oddest issue came with the controls though, with no button assigned to perform melee attacks after you unlock your second spell. I actually had to assign one myself from the menu, which isn’t only weird but a massive pain given that most of the buttons are assigned to other actions. Want my advice? Sacrifice the R3 button’s ability to change camera angles, it’s the most viable option.
I mainly played Citadel: Forged with Fire in single player, but there is the possibility to play on servers with up to fifty-players. It’s an impressive feat and the limited time I have spent with others has been a lot of fun – it’s definitely more enjoyable to scour the world with a group of friends, whilst the epic wizard battles you can have can be insane given the fact you can build your own bases or use a dragon to wipe out someone else’s. It’s a lot of fun and probably the best way to experience the game.
I had a fair bit of fun playing through Citadel: Forged with Fire and living out my wizarding dreams, but there were plenty of occasions where I was left a little frustrated with the game. Gathering resources was very repetitive and too drawn out for example, whilst some of the menus could be tough to work through during the opening hours. It also had a few performance issues here and there, though nothing that particularly ruined the experience for me.
When it’s at its best though, Citadel: Forged with Fire can be something special. It’ll never stop being fun to fly around on my broom, whilst soaring through the air on a dragon and blasting fire on my enemies is undeniably cool. It might be far from perfect, but Citadel: Forged with Fire offered more than enough special moments to keep me coming back for more.
Developer: Blue Isle Studios, Virtual Basement
Publisher: Blue Isle Stuidos
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC