Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Snapshot: Sorcery


There are so many games out there we couldn't possibly review them all. Welcome to Snapshot, where we highlight games that might fall outside our usual coverage but are still something we think you should know about. Today: Sorcery for PS3.

Having been announced along with the PlayStation Move in 2010, Sorcery bears the burden of high expectations. This was supposed to be the game that showed what the Move could add to a non-party, non-minigame, and full-sized adventure in which your Move wand enabled you to fire magic bolts in any direction.

It is, of course, unfair to judge the game by the expectations around its announcement. Such lofty circumstances make an enjoyable, if lightweight, game seem more disappointing.

However, I will say that if Sorcery is to act as a Move ambassador, it is not up to the task. While there were certainly times I didn't mind using the motion controller, there were precious few times I was glad to; my experience aiming the in-game magic wand was, in equal parts, hitting the target accurately, flailing uselessly, and recalibrating.

Sorcerer's apprentice Finn steals a magic wand from his boss' stash, then sets off on a quest to reverse the damage he caused and defeat the evil Nightmare Queen he unintentionally summoned. Through it all, despite the constant admonitions of his companion, the talking cat Erline, Finn remains ignorant or uncaring that terrible things continue to happen as the direct result of his careless actions. I guess it's fine, since he becomes a great sorcerer and gets lots of magic powers, but ... man, Finn is a jerk.

Those powers include elemental spells accessed by holding the Move button and gesturing ... then gesturing again because the system saw your tilted clockwise swirl as a vertically oriented clockwise swirl and you've therefore selected wind instead of fire. Each power has two basic functions. One (usually a projectile) is accessed by flicking the Move in the direction you want it to go; you can shoot a bolt of lightning, ice ball, gust of wind, forward-moving line of shifting earth, or the default "arcane bolt" this way.

The other ability is accessed by sweeping sideways, and usually takes the form of an area effect. You can create a wall of fire, a miniature tornado, etc. It gets more interesting when you get multiple abilities, because you can combine them – shoot arcane bolts through a fire wall to make fireballs, or set a tornado on fire to make a column of flame. Of course, this requires you to switch powers on the fly, so I usually had to try a few times, as my tornado would dissipate before I could finally get the fire spell selected.

In the most reductive of terms, you spend the majority of the game chucking arcane bolts at groups of enemies in order to unlock access to the next section of the level. Aiming can be difficult, since you're not just pointing the Move, but pointing it and then flicking. There's a measure of aim assist to help you out, but I never really got the hang of, say, hitting an enemy high up. I could get Finn to lift his arm up high, and then shoot straight forward, but getting a high shot required a lot of trial-and-error-and-frantic-gesticulating. It certainly doesn't work perfectly, but I found that I was usually able to hit what I meant to hit within the first few tries (unless, again, it was at a higher elevation).

Sometimes enemies will be frustrating and difficult to deal with, like the goblins who stand out of reach and throw nearly-invisible projectiles at you, or the troll who can only be killed by shooting arcane bolts through a campfire at him ... and who guards the fire like it's a hockey goal. In these situations, you'll want to drink a handy health potion. I'm sorry, did I say "drink?" I meant "shake the Move until the light glows red to match the color of the now-mixed potion, then upturn the Move to simulate drinking it." While you're almost dead. Planning is a requirement.

The potion mechanics are much more enjoyable outside of battle. You can mix ingredients you find, to discover recipes for potions that boost your character's stats, or turn you into a pumpkin whenever you want (just for fun).

The enjoyment of freezing a giant spider in ice and then incinerating it kind of balances out with the irritation, arm pain, and lack of surprises. In other words, there's nothing spectacular about the experience, but neither is there anything truly miserable about it. Most of the time, you're walking from familiar fantasy-game environment to environment, chatting with Erline, and then whipping bolts at ghosts or sylphs just as quickly as you can. It's a nice diversion for a few hours, but don't expect much more.
This review is based on final code of Sorcery, provided by Sony.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr