Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sorcery

“Like all good apprentices Finn takes his wand and unleashes a flurry of wonderfully woven spells to dazzle you. When the action begins however, Sorcery is a convoluted mess that strays far from what initially made it seem like a potential winner.”


Expectations were certainly nothing less than very high for The Workshop’s PlayStation exclusive Sorcery. First shown off at E3 2010 before the PlayStation Move was even available, Sorcery promised an enticing experience unlike any other for PlayStation 3 owners. After disappearing off the radar, this third-person adventure has finally re-emerged, but was it worth the wait? Sorcery is a testament to what the PlayStation Move can achieve and finally offers owners of the peripheral something remotely engaging to enjoy. Saying that, Sorcery also boasts numerous issues and inconsistencies that prevent it from being the game you have all been waiting for to propel PlayStation Move into a necessity for your home console.



Sorcery puts you in the shoes of trainee wizard Finn as he bites off a little bit more than he can chew and ends up on a quest to defend the realm against the forces of evil and find out the truth behind his mentor’s fate. Throughout the campaign you will grow to like Finn and his feline companion Erline, with dialogue and narrative being especially engaging. The story is written in a stereotypically light-hearted fashion with the outcome leaving a smile on your face.

Unfortunately that smile of yours has the potential to fade on occasion when you get involved with Sorcery’s actual gameplay. The use of PlayStation Move isn’t the problem here because casting spells and implementing specific movement inputs is actually a whole load of fun. A simple flick of the wrist in any direction creates a spell that alongside the auto-targeting system means you will have no issues casting and eliminating your foes. The real burden here is poor pacing and too many enemies. Sorcery throws countless bland and boring monsters your way that simply make what could have been a delightful and tactical experience nothing more than a PlayStation Move frenzy where you simply hurl as many spells as quickly as possible to avoid being overrun. This is especially prevalent in boss battles, which one would assume would be fantastic in Sorcery, but it’s just not the case. Large trolls and titans stand in your way and lead to nothing but frustration with their ridiculously large health bars, annoying attacks and hordes of little enemies that do nothing but frustrate the auto-targeting system.


These issues intertwine with video gaming’s biggest problem, the camera angle. More often than not Sorcery has serious problems keeping track of everything that’s going on and enemies can come from blind spots, attack you to force the camera into frenzy and really show off the inconsistency behind what is clearly one of the most important aspects to get correct in a game.

Thankfully there are some neat RPG like elements that help balance out Sorcery. A variety of spells are unlocked as you progress through the story mode with powerful fire abilities and ice magic all aiding to your arsenal of abilities. Spells can also be merged together, for example a wall of fire and a tornado can create a firestorm tornado and putting together these cool combinations is a lot of fun. While spell casting is a hoot in Sorcery, the movement controls can feel a little clunky at times, especially in the heat of combat when you attempt to dodge or block attacks. Another frustrating aspect to Sorcery is amidst all these fantastic spells, Finn seemed to forget to learn ‘cure’ and as a result you have to use potions to regenerate health and boy is this a pain. Players are forced to shake the Move control and tip the drink into their mouth mimicking a real drink to gain the potion’s nutrients, but in practice and during battle, this is nothing short of agonizing.

Sorcery does however put in a decent effort when it comes to providing content to disperse the monotonous combat. Plenty of items can be found to conjure new potions for Finn and lots of clever puzzles are scattered across the story to make sure you can use your spells in interesting and fun ways. It’s just a massive shame that this level of fun simply doesn’t cross over into the bulk of the game.

Ultimately Sorcery is another excellent example of a game that has a very enjoyable mechanic yet for some strange reason, chooses to concentrate on other elements that don’t quite do the aforementioned justice. Casting spells is an absolute delight and really shows off the PlayStation Move, but only in the context of Sorcery’s puzzles and out of combat scenarios. When the action gets heated Sorcery falls apart with mindless action taking over what could have been an incredibly engaging experience. A decent story and enjoyable dialogue help keep this from being a totally disaster but with absolutely no replay value, no post-game content and only 6 hours worth of gameplay, it’s difficult to recommend this game.

6.0 | Gameplay |
Sorcery’s initial spell casting mechanic is a joy to implement and really shows off the PlayStation Move’s ability. In practice however, the mechanic is ruined by the onslaught of enemies that force you to relieve all notions of tactical casting and instead opt for a spam approach, simply blasting everything and anything you see before it gets to close to you. When the combat dies down and Sorcery lets you get involved with the wide variety of puzzles scattered throughout the game, you begin to appreciate Sorcery and at the same time understand how magical this game could have been if emphasis was put into the right places.

8.0 | Presentation |
Visually Sorcery is delightful to look at. A vivid world inhabited by a variety of fairy tale creatures really comes to life on the big screen. The story too is also engaging and the voice acting impressive. It’s a shame about the controls being hit and miss but this is in part due to particular design choices like the potion use mechanic for example, as opposed to actual problems with the game.

3.0 | Replay Value |
There’s no need to replay Sorcery again other than maybe showing a friend a couple of cool spells or something. Once you’re done that’s it, time to pack up and trade it in.

6.0 | Final Thoughts |
It upsets me when a development team has a beautiful vision of a game and when it comes to life, it just doesn’t live up to the expectations in any way. It upsets me even more when a development team clearly have the fundamental game mechanic that can make their game fantastic, in place, yet for some strange reason choose to completely ignore it and fill the experience to the brim with nonsensical content. Sorcery’s puzzle elements and early spell implementation shows that The Workshop got spell casting down, it is enjoyable, work with that! No, instead they bombard you with a mass of frustrating enemies and take all the enjoyment out of their prize asset, creating nothing more than a convoluted mess. Sorcery is an ok game that lacks consistency all the way through and it certainly owes a lot to the script team because the story, narrative and dialogue are really the only things keeping this ship afloat.

Igor Kharin.




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