Sorcery Preview - Could It Be Magic?
Written Monday, April 30, 2012 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
Sorcery’s most impressive trick was to disappear. First announced back at E3 2010, the Move-enabled adventure was once an important part of the waggly wand’s upcoming catalogue, a title to convince both the core and the masses that there’s more to motion controls than mini-game collections. But then it vanished.
Two years down the line and that spell of silence is telling. The game is out towards the end of the month, yet there’s a definite lack of buzz. Sparse few assets have been released and preview code has been thin on the ground. It’s clear that Sorcery doesn’t carry the significance that it once did.
All of which is a shame, because it has the makings of a decent little game. It’s not perfect, by any means, and there’s evidence of penny-pinching in the presentation, but there’s a certain charm to it. Despite its flaws Sorcery cast a bit of a spell on me. I’ll stop with the magic puns now.
You are Finn, a cocky sorcerer’s apprentice who gets himself into a spot of bother when his master leaves for town. The old wizard’s horse and carriage is barely over the horizon when Finn steals a powerful wand and starts wreaking havoc, accidentally spilling a potion and making a bit of a mess.
But that’s only half of Finn’s problems. The spilled potion contained a rare magical ingredient found only in the ominous-sounding Land of the Restless Dead. Goaded by his masters’ extravagantly tailed cat, Finn sets off intending to make things right, but instead makes them a whole lot worse.
Once in the Land of the Restless Dead, Finn inadvertently unleashes the dastardly Nightmare Queen. With a name like that we don’t have to tell you she’s not the nicest of characters, promptly cloaking the Faerie Kingdoms in eternal darkness and unleashing her minions to terrorise its inhabitants.
It’s a kids story, then, a fairy tale of nasty villains, overconfident heroes and a world in peril. It’s also rather charming in its own way, with a narrative delivered through the use of storybook motion comic panels. In-engine dramatic scenes would have been preferable, but they do their job well enough.
It’s the controls that are of central importance, however. Unlike many Move adventures, Sorcery is not on-rails. You have complete control over Finn’s movement with the Navigation Controller (or DualShock 3) guiding the apprentice around the environment while the Move acts as his wand.
The result is a mixed bag. Harnessing the accuracy of the Move controller you can fling spells this way and that. Cast in a short, sharp, downwards motions and you fire straight, but swish the Move to the side and you can curve spells around corners to seek out enemies hiding behind cover. It’s ultra-satisfying.
The camera, however, is not. Completely out of your control, you are at the mercy of its shortcomings. So it’s fine when things are calm, but when the action hots up it struggles to cope, focusing on the wrong enemies and generally being a bit of a pain. You can center the camera with the click of a button, but it’s still clunky.
All of which detracts, but doesn’t completely spoil what looks set to be an entertaining adventure. And it is an adventure. In a loosely Zelda-style you explore, collect, battle, fight bosses and solve light environmental puzzles, all while interacting with the world around you using various gestures with the Move controller.
These gestures are particularly well thought-out. Whether they be used for repairing objects, drinking potions, opening chests or manipulating the environment, the movements feel relatively intuitive. What’s more, to the younger gamer, the broad swooshes many require are fun in their own right.
Sorcery shouldn’t necessarily be mistaken just for a kids game, however. With its characters and storyline and default setting (casual), it certainly leans that way, but it does have something to offer more experienced players. Step the difficulty up to “Gamer” and suddenly Sorcery becomes a little tougher.
This is no more apparent than in the boss battles. The design of the fights I’ve seen aren’t going to win any awards - they’re fairly standard attack pattern affairs - but on Gamer difficulty they are a fight, necessitating quick reflexes and tight execution. Chuck in those camera issues and you’ve a challenge on your hands.
Ultimately, Sorcery promises to be a decent fantasy romp, with enough charm and novelty to set it apart. It may not come to fulfill Sony’s initial vision of a spearhead for their motion-controlled revolution, it’s too late for that, but it is enough reason to consider blowing the dust off your Move. And that's magic.
Sorcery is out on May 23rd in Europe, May 22nd in North America and June 13th in Japan.