Ever since its debut during E3 2010, PlayStation Move buyers have been anticipating the release of Sorcery, not because it looked like a good, interesting game, but because it would give them an excuse to use their expensive peripheral. Ever since the announcement of the PS Move, it’s been obvious that the motion controller is one of the best out there and that it’s full of potential, but sadly, neither Sony or other developers have realized that potential. Then Sorcery was announced and we all saw potential in it. The question is, is it the Move game we’ve been waiting for?
Sorcery stars a young boy names Finn, an orphan taken in by a sorcerer, Dash, to be his apprentice. Soon after the game starts, Dash has to leave for town and Finn is left to his own devices. In the short time he’s alone, he steals a wand, destroys a special potion, wanders of into a cave and sets in motion a succession of events that leave him no choice but to step up and save the world. Throughout the story, Finn will be accompanied by his feline friend, Erline. Although the game sports a simple, somewhat generic story of an everyman having to save the world, it is helped along considerably by these two characters. Finn and Erline are very likable, and I’ll bet you’ll find yourself smiling once or twice because of their entertaining banter. It’s hard not to care about what happens to these two.
The game controls as you’d expect: you hold a move controller in one hand to simulate the magic wand Finn holds in his hand, and a navigation controller (or DualShock) in the other hand to move him around. Most of the game is centered around the Move controller. With it you’ll cast spells, open doors and chests, make potions, etc. The game does a good job of making you feel like you’re getting stronger as the story advances and once you start to learn more spells, its very easy to switch them around with a simple flick of your wrist. You’ll start off with a simple arcane bolt, which can be used in two different ways: either as a straight shot, creating by flicking your wrist forward, or and arced shot, made by flicking your wrist in an arc. This makes for fun combat that allows you to hit enemies even when they try to avoid you by hiding behind different objects in the environment. Also, as you go along, you’ll learn several elemental powers than can be combined with other spells to create powerful attacks. For example, at one point you’ll learn how to cast a tornado. You can combine this with an arcane bolt and fire to create a flaming tornado. This is just one of many combinations that are possible in the game, which try to keep the combat from going stale.
Sadly, the combat in the game isn’t without faults. When in combat, your attacks will hit their intended target most of the time, but when it starts getting hectic, and you have multiple enemies heading towards you, the Move controller has a hard time hitting exactly what you’re aiming for. Also, all that flicking takes a toll on your wrist, and after 45 minutes of playing, my wrist was in pain. The game also suffers from repetitive combat scenarios, where every enemy looks just like the other and acts exactly the same, making it a similar experience all the time: you go into an area and blast everything that moves while you strafe to avoid their attacks. Even with the added variety of the different permutations that can be created with the spells, the game starts getting a bit boring after a while.
Being a fantasy game, the developers were free to create anything their minds could muster up, so it’s sad to see that the game sports such generic creature design and environmental design. Some parts of the game look bright and well detailed, but for the most part there’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen before and much better presented. Enemies design is very uninspired, with little to no originality in them and although Erline and Finn both look great and original, the rest of the game fails to set itself apart from every other game sporting the fantasy genre.
In an attempt to add some variety to the game, every potion you drink in the game (except health potions, which you find throughout the environments) is made by you. Through a set of recipes, that you discover by experimenting with different materials, you are able to create different potions to make Finn stronger, be it to raise his health, his magic power and other properties. The materials you’ll need for these potions are commonly found in treasure chest strewn around the levels of the game. Once you have enough of them, you’re tasked with mixing them in a cauldron and create the potions, which you proceed to shake and drink with the Move as if you were actually drinking something. It’s a fun mechanic that gets a bit tiring after a few times, but they payoff (making Finn stronger) is worth it.
In the end, Sorcery is a good game that fails to reach its potential. At its default difficulty, it’s a very easy and sometimes boring game that can be beat in around 7 hours, give or take. Being a mostly linear affair, there’s very little reason to return and beat the game again unless you truly loved it. It makes you wonder what took the game so long to show up in stores, seeing as it’s a very short, sometimes generic romp through a fantasy world with the help of the move controller. Sorcery is fun, but not necessarily a must own.
Thanks to Sony for providing a review copy of the game.