Sorcery has finally landed for the PlayStation 3, utilising Sony’s motion control device, the PlayStation Move (PSMove). Has it been worth the long wait? This review will try to dissect whether Sorcery can live up to its billing as PSMove’s killer game.
I won’t beat around the bush here. I mentioned in a preview I made for the game, that the biggest hurdle Sorcery would need to overcome, was game length and replayability. Even more than getting the motion controls right. Unfortunately, Sorcery fails to deliver in this aspect. Most gamers, especially hardcore gamers, will finish the game in around 7 hours or less. There is no particular reason either to return to the game after you have completed it, save for trophy hunting (which to be fair, is why trophies exist in the first place, but I digress). Such little value is hard to recommend, even at Sorcery’s discounted price.
Sorcery’s core gameplay is that of a linear action adventure. Players will face a good swarm of enemies to battle, and also be treated to a few simple puzzles to solve. The meat of the game is in the combat, since the puzzles are pretty straight forward.
As such, we get into how Sorcery plays with the PSMove and navigation controller (recommended). Players use the PSMove to act as a wand in the game, flinging spells left, right and center. For the most part, the controls respond well to commands. There will be lots of variables to this though. If you aren’t playing in a good sized room, with lots of space to move, you’ll be handicapping yourself. This can severely affect gameplay, as instead of carefully calculating how to hit an enemy, you end up just spamming spells and hope they connect.
Thankfully, there are a decent variety of spells and methods to use them. The basic forward strike of the wand shoots out your spells like an arrow. Other maneuvers however, allow the player to be more cunning, for instance setting down fire and hurling a tornado through it is a great spectacle, and very effective. Players start off with the basic arcane bolt, which can be a bore to use, as its simplicity means you’ll just be flinging your wrist at enemies in the early parts of the game. It doesn’t cost much to use either, meaning it definitely feels like you are spamming. Once you learn more spells, and can break out combos, it does get more fun. One drawback however, is trying to quickly change the spell you have equipped doesn’t always work well, meaning you can waste time trying to highlight the right spell you want to use.
The enemies in Sorcery aren’t much to shout about. In truth, they can look very bland and tend to act in similar fashion throughout the game. Rushes always rush, while arrow users always tend to be standing on high ground. There is some strategic thinking involved, but once you get a good tactic, there is little reason to change. Bosses on the other hand, can offer more of a challenge. They sometimes need to be dealt with in a specific manner, making an encounter interesting. However, they still tend to be easy fights.
The environments in Sorcery, while lush and pretty, feel empty. Lack of definite texture and life, takes away slightly from the environments. So whilst they differ in visuals, they’re similar in feel. On a more technical level though, it is definitely fun watching your magic spells wreak havoc on a large bunch of enemies. Sometimes this comes at a cost though, with slight framerate hiccups when action is heavy on the screen.
As for the story itself, Sorcery presents a nice charming story. Nothing wholly emotionally stirring, but it helps carry the game forward. The tale starts off with a young apprentice sorcerer, Finn, traveling with his feline companion Erline, quickly turning into a good vs evil battle. There are a couple of unfortunate aspects to the storytelling however. First is the use of storybook cutscenes to convey the story. While a neat idea, it strongly pulls the player away from the world of Sorcery, making it harder to connect to the cast and the environment. This is especially the case for some of the more important and poignant scenes, which may have been more emotionally stirring if it used in-game cutscenes over the storybook method. The other unfortunate aspect to the story is that of our protagonist, Finn. His voicework is good, but his dialogue is too superficial. To the more mature gamer, it’ll sound like he was plucked from a Disney teenage sitcom, making it hard to connect to the fantasy mystique of the world.
Final Thoughts: A few gamers may have had high hopes for Sorcery. The promise of good use of the PSMove was tantilising. But the delay and value of the final product makes it hard to recommend to anyone without a PSMove. As for those with a PSMove, it’s still a short journey. It’s a fun romp for 7 hours, but not good enough.
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