Sorcery is a game that gathered quite a bit of interest when it was announced by Sony at last year’s E3. Unfortunately since then the game disappeared from the radar somewhat, only reappearing recently. This lack of publicity meant that most gamers had already written the title off, however, having recently got hands on with a close-to-final build, I have to say that this title could finally bring the magic that Sony’s PlayStation Move so badly needs.
Loading up the disc in my PS3 I have to say that I was as cynical as the next person about what to expect, however as soon as you see the Fable-like presentation (courtesy of the Unreal Engine) and get to grips with the easy to use Move controls, playing this game becomes both second nature and a pleasure.
The story sees you taking control of a sorcerer’s apprentice named Finn. He’s a bit of a trouble maker, stealing a wand and blowing up his masters potion all within the first few minutes. This then leads him on an adventure along with the sorcerer’s talking cat, Erline, who convinces him to head out and look for the ingredients needed to replace the destroyed potion, the results of which eventually see the evil Nightmare Queen furiously attacking his town.
I don’t want to go too much into the story, that’ll come along with our review, however let’s just say that being about five hours into the game, it’s still going along nicely, with surprises still appearing even at this later stage.
What I do want to concentrate on is the gameplay and to be fair, it’s great. My choice of controls was a PlayStation Move combined with the Navigation Controller. Controlling Finn is easy using the Navigation Controller, the stick allows you to move around with ease, while L1 centres the camera and L2 brings up a shield to enable you to block missile and long range attacks. Move meanwhile, allows you to cast a simple bolt spell by flicking your wrist in the direction of the enemy. You can even curve shots around obstacles should the enemy take cover, which they often do.
Later in the game you obtain move powerful spells which can be selected by holding down the move button and performing a small gesture. These spells include Ice, Fire, Wind and Earth. Even more exciting is the fact that you can combine these spells, so for example, you can cast a Whirlwind spell using wind, set it on fire, aim bolts at it and watch as the enemy falls to pieces. Harry Potter eat your heart out.
The beauty of casting and selecting spells is that Move seems to recognise your gestures every time, even if someone does walk in front of the TV!
As well as using magic for combat, Finn is also able to perform various gestures in order to progress or find hidden paths. This includes mending broken bridges and gateways by performing a circular motion with Move, or using telekinesis to lift objects which are blocking his path.
On your journey you’ll find all manner of swag and gold coins. While these seem fairly useless at first, as you progress you’ll run into an Alchemist. This is a pretty important part of the game as he’ll sell you potion bottles which allow you to combine ingredients in the menu to make your own potions. The effect of these potions are permanent and allow for such benefits as stronger spells, increased health and a stronger shield, although you can also make duff potions, which will have adverse effects is consumed.
Speaking of potions, occasionally you’ll come across something special. One particular potion which really makes a difference to the game is Polymorph. This potion allows Finn to take on the form of any animal in the surrounding area when the need occurs. This will see you turning into a bird to fly to higher points or even a rat, allowing you to walk straight through small gaps in the environment.
Graphically the game looks wonderful. The Unreal engine has been put to good use, with fantastic character animation, a great variety of enemies and some lush and colourful environments. The effects of the spells are great; watching enemies catch fire or turn into ice blocks, before shattering is very pleasing to the eye.
There are a few issues with the game, although given that this is a preview build I’m hopeful that most of these will disappear by the time the final version hits store shelves. The main issue for me was the camera, as even though you can centre it, sometimes it has a mind of its own, making fighting enemies and dodging their attacks very difficult. Like I say though, this issue could very well be eradicated by the time the final build gets here, so it’s probably not best to read to much into this at the moment.
Although the story starts off almost as if it’s aimed at a younger generation, you’ll soon realise that it isn’t. Even on the lowest difficulty setting Sorcery provides a challenge, and if you don’t believe me, just wait until you are trying to take down two Ice Trolls at once, it’s not easy I tell you. The difficulty certainly spikes the further you get into the game, so while it may start out simple enough, the further you progress, the more you’ll find yourself staring at a loading screen.
In my opinion Sorcery is exactly the type of game that PlayStation Move needs for the device to make its mark on the world of gaming. It’s certainly shaping up to be a fantastic, dare I say, must have game, for anyone who owns Sony’s motion device. In fact it may even be a reason to buy one.
Sorcery is out May 25, you can pre-order your copy here.