Sunday, 25 September 2016 00:00

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 3 and 4 Review

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Choose Your Own Adventure

Inkle Studios, a team of developers in Cambridge, brought their passions for storytelling and design to life releasing games onto a variety of platforms and systems. Sorcery!, thankfully, is no less of an ambition and original title as its predecessors. With an intriguing premise to run with, Inkle Studio built a story-driven adventure, so odd and so simple, it was a real surprise how much I enjoyed its world of ancient magic.

Sorcery! is nothing you've experienced before.

Give it time, as it draws you in gently. Persevere, and you'll find yourself wanting more. And isn't that what gaming is all about?

Graphics and storyline are good, they blend well, but they aren't anything to write home about. No. Sorcery shines in the choices that craft a story, and how these always come together to fit the overarching theme. Meaning and subtlety in a story's thread for a 4-part series, especially one driven by a player's choice and disconnected between 4 purchases, is, by all means, a feat of strength.

More problematic for a reviewer like me is the fact that, despite playing part 3 and 4 amply, I still struggle to categorize the game within a genre. It's hard to pinpoint where Sorcery! belongs. On one hand, it possesses features traditionally found in visual novels, point-and-clicks, and even, I'm afraid to say hidden objects. On the other, none of these is an exact fit: Sorcery! is unique and unyielding.

Playthroughs are many and all worth the experience.

Like the ‘choose your own adventure' novels we all read as kids, you pick your path and which characters to help or leave behind. As the Dungeon Master, you're given countless paths to shape your experience as your personality deems fit. The replay, as you can imagine, is high. And isn't that why buy games?

Furthermore, Mechanics are different and unique. You read like in visual novels, but as a point-and-click adventure, you decide where to go and who to address. You travel across the map with a click of your cursor, until Mr. Dungeon Master decides to throw a Griffin in your way. The battles are a nice touch, and more importantly, are satisfying. You have to think strategically about a challenging AI, and there are enough subtlety fighting never feels repetitive. There's also a lot of travels and storytelling that takes place between battles. If you prefer those, then a disguise you must find (no spoilers here) can help you avoid fights entirely. Why not? Some of us are in it to converse with all the characters you can find. After all, isn't choice what you're here for?

One thing I dislike about Sorcery! is that there is no save point. You can rewind and fix mistakes or make different choices, but you don't get to pick your restore points. Now a person who knows the game and can run through it, completion takes an hour. So no big deal, right? Sure. But isn't choice what you're here for!? Where's the love for the player who wants to take it slow and play over several days? Then "not saving" is a problem.

Hand Drawn illustrations appealing to the eye

Illustrations, many of them in black & white, are as beautiful as some are discomforting but in a good way. What seems like handmade drawings have been painstakingly created for each character. The result is an immersive atmosphere. The map itself is a creative expression, and one that is as broad as it is detailed. In Sorcery! Part 4, a three-dimensional interface was added as a visual feature, and it is cool: you can peek inside and around buildings, and somehow, that makes the atmosphere ever more intriguing.


The Verdict

I'd be remiss not to make the following connotation: "Dungeons & Dragons," for those of us grown old. Yes, it's a great substitute. Sorcery! gets an 9 out of 10. Well done.

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Antsel Gladdish

A mysterious figure walks down the street reading a book in one hand, a radish in the other and listening to 8-bit music through a pair of headphones which are concealed underneath his favorite fedora hat. That is Mr. Gladdish in a nutshell. Gladdish is a novelist and slam poetry award winner who works in the genera's of fantasy, fiction, and historical fiction. He has published his first historical fiction novel, Unsolved Mysteries, and is currently working on his new fantasy series. After three years of traveling, Gladdish decided to set his career on entertaining people with his words and creative stories. He is an active gamer of RPG's, enjoying both Uncharted and Witcher series. As a person who watching Soul Eater, loves snowboarding down the Alps and enjoys a nice pot of cheese fondue in the winter, he is definitely one of the few people you meet that will always have a story to tell.