I still remember the captivating magical tales of the Harry Potter series. More in line with reality, the Potions classes that the characters in the series attend involved combining various ingredients in order to make potions that had different effects on their users. In reading the series, I was fascinated with the similarity between these potions and the principles of alchemy, the art of combining several ingredients in order to make an entirely different substance. While its viability in the real world has been concretely disproven, alchemy is a fact in the magic-filled world of Sorcery. A PS3-exclusive, Sorcery is a third-person action-adventure game that turns the motion-sensing Playstation Move (hereafter called the Move) into a magic wand.
As Finn, a young orphaned sorcerer’s apprentice, you start from humble, overconfident beginnings that inadvertently get your mentor killed. Tasked with defending a Faerie princess, you progress through a multidimensional journey that slowly, but surely, brings out a slightly-matured, but much more capable and powerful, Finn.
Yes, the story is cheesy and the final boss battle is a little too fantastical and archetypal, but all hero’s stories usually are. Growing from a cocky, wise-ass, and inexperienced apprentice into a humble, mature (not really), and experienced Sorcerer develops a certain degree of relational attachment between the player and Finn, at least for me. This being my first review, you can say this review is too soft and lenient of course, but they are my honest opinions. Just like any other video game website out there, writers differ in their criteria for review. But enough of this little rant, let me get on to the gameplay.
For me, the Move added an element that more often than not made the gameplay much more immersive. From having to shake the Move to simulate shaking a potion, then turning the Move upside down to simulate drinking the potion, the Move added many more layers of fun and immersion. But above the basic potion drinking, the Move also enables the player to do something that can’t be achieved with just a Dualshock, and indeed any other, controller: cast a magic spell with motion. Does that sound a little cheesy? It should.
The game starts you out with just a simple, nonelemental spell, called arcane bolt, manifesting as a violet surge of magic. Although weak, and often frustratingly so if you play the game on the hardest (Nightmare) difficulty, arcane bolt is the also the most practical and accurate, until later on, as Finn discovers and merges with various spell nexuses. In order, Finn learns: arcane, earth, wind, fire, ice, and lightning. Your default spell is arcane, and I was pleased with how easy it is to switch back to arcane by simply hitting the Move button. However, some situations and major battles require using certain spells, such as crossing an otherwise-impassable valley by freezing the conveniently-placed water fall with an ice spell. Other times, you might have to mend and lift and move things with simple motions, such as flicking the Move left or right to open a door, and my favorite, inserting a key into a door by thrusting the Move forward then turning it to unlock it. Throughout the world of Sorcery, you’ll encounter treasure chests that you open by twisting the Move controller, collecting whatever is inside, usually gold, the in-game currency, as well as various treasures and ingredients for potion-making (more on potion-making later). Simple? Yes. Interactive and fun? Definitely.
Although not a core gameplay mechanic, the game also lets you research and create potions with various effects, such as Eagle Eye Tonic, which permanently increases arcane bolt damage. Before you can create a potion, however, you must first research the potions you can make with the ingredients that you collect throughout the game, mostly found in the aforementioned treasure chests, but you can also purchase ingredients from a traveling Alchemist who sells not only potion ingredients, but also potion bottles (protip: very expensive to buy, try to find them in treasure chests instead). Okay, back to alchemy: in a nutshell, you can combine three ingredients to make potions with different effects, most permanent, unless the potion description says otherwise. For me, the system is very simple to understand, perhaps too simple, but nonetheless rewarding if you have the patience to collect the different ingredients in the game, granting the advantages of health bonuses and damage-dealing potential.
I guess the only negative for me was the camera control. In fights, the camera automatically points toward the nearest enemy(ies), in addition to Finn facing the enemy(ies) and switching to strafing mode to more easily avoid incoming shots. However, my problem is with camera angle during the linear exploration sections of the game, where you can’t move the camera manually, instead having to press the L1 button when Finn is facing a different direction to have the camera point that way. In general, though, camera control is satisfactory, albeit sticky and annoying to try to manually control in a boss battle.
Finally, that leads me to the boss battles of Sorcery. As is customary in most games, the boss battles increase in stair-step difficulty, though the first boss takes quite a few hits and regenerated health a little too quickly for me in Nightmare difficulty. Of course, each boss fit each area the battles took place in, such as a very Lord of the Rings-like giant tree creature in a forest setting. For me, the final boss battle was just a little bit of a let-down in terms of difficulty and how it resolved, versus the effort you had to put into all the other bosses, but it was a fitting end that I was satisfied with.
All in all, to wrap this review up, Sorcery will appeal mostly to the casual gamer crowd, but will easily reign in even the hardcore gamer, despite its simplicity and humor in nature.
Is it worth the $30? In this gamer’s opinion, hell yeah.
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 8.0/10
Gameplay/Design – 9.0/10
Visuals – 9.0/10
Sound – 9.0/10
Lasting Appeal – 7.5/10
Overall – 8.5/10