Developer: Workbench Studios
Publisher: Sony Entertainment
Release Date: May 22, 2012
The Short: Sorcery is a fun, but short Move game that is lacking the polish to make it truly great.
Sorcery was first shown at E3 2010, everyone was amazed at its potential, a visual update and 2 years later it has finally been released, but does it love up to the hype?
The game follows a mischievous young teenage apprentice named Finn who is eager to learn and use magic. Dash, a magician and his master, leaves to run some errands while leaving Finn to get up to his own devices. After stealing a wand and excelling his magical abilities beyond anything he’s used to, he and his feline friend Erline end up an adventure to stop the Nightmare Queen.
The story, while captivating enough to pull you through to the end, isn’t anything special. It is told in a way that is aimed at children. Which is fine, but there a quite a few corny lines and jokes, which anyone above the age of ten won’t find especially funny. Although with that said, not all the writing is bad, and the banter between Finn and Erline can be amusing, at times.
Finn and Erline are likeable enough, but Finn is stubborn, and besides relentless attempts by Erline to get him to turn around, he keeps pushing forward and getting into trouble, any reasonable person would see the awaiting danger and thus making you not really care about Finn or the outcome of his journey.
Sorcery’s environments, while can look good in certain sections, are mostly uninspired and bland. So are all of the enemies, even the main antagonist, aren’t impressive or original either, but look like they have been directly ripped out of a children’s fantasy picture book.
Story aside, the real selling point of Sorcery is its Move controls, how it feels like you’re more or less using an actual wand; if the Move controls weren’t any good, the game would be a total flop. Thankfully, they work well, for the most part, and it is just as easy to play the game standing up, looking like a professional magician, or just sitting down, and relaxing. By using a navigation controller in one hand, and the Move in the other, players can cast spells easily. The Move controller acts as the wand, by literally flicking your wrist at the screen, like a real wand, Finn will send a bolt of magic flying at his enemies.
The Move controls are responsive and will accurately detect your actions, but it does have a margin of error. Early on in the game, I would have spent two minutes trying to curve my bolt to solve a puzzle, I don’t know what was wrong, but it just wouldn’t curve. And while the auto aim is good it can again, mis-register your moves, the game needed a better way to target enemies, for during the more hectic parts, no matter how hard you tried to aim and hit one enemy, it would constantly hit others. To add to this problem, the camera would swerve around trying to get a good view of the enemies.
The game aims to be immersive, for example, before taking each potion, you have to first shake the Move controller, then turn it upside down, to act as if you’re drinking it. Details like this, while doing this can be cumbersome in the midst of battle, are awesome and bring you into the game.
While the controls can be ‘iffy’ at times, it doesn’t ruin or break the game, and more importantly doesn’t leave you wishing you could approach the game using a standard Dualshock controller. A game like this can only be achieved through motion controlled gaming.
Finns basic spell is the Arkane bolt, you can either shoot it directly at enemies, or with a curve of the wrist, you can curve the bolt to hit enemies behind obstacles. It’s just too bad this curving mechanic isn’t needed too much throughout the game, as hardly any of your enemies will bother to take cover, instead a horde of them will pour onto the screen, and especially at the start, all that will be required of you is to button mash (flail the wand around) at the general directions of your enemies until they are dead. Among the basic spell you also have access to elemental spells and potions.
Once you get past the first couple of almost gruelling hours, Sorcery starts to really pick up, too bad the game ends way too quickly (an overall time of approximately 6 or so hours).
Once you acquire the games full set of spells -ground, fire, ice, wind- you can create amazing combinations with them all to take on your enemies in more creative ways, and keeps the combat from getting stale and keeps it fresh and fun throughout. E.g. By placing a line of fire on the ground, then casting a spell of wind, you can create a fire-tornado, combinations like these make the game a treat to play. Even though each enemy has a weakness/defence against certain types of spells, (a certain RPG aspect) there is an undeniable issue with balance with certain spells. For instance, I didn’t use the ground spell throughout pretty much the whole game, compared to other spells its utterly useless, and once you unlock Finns powerful lightning spell you likely won’t use much else.
Another RPG-like feature to the game is the Alchemy system, this is basically how you create potions. By collecting coins and treasures you can trade them into the alchemist for ingredients to make potions. By randomly mixing ingredients, using the Move controller, you can create potions. This whole system works sort of like a skill tree, whether you want more health, more mana, more powerful spells or many other abilities, theres likely to be a potion that can help. This is a great system, and while brewing these potions can become monotonous, the end result is well worth it.
The last aspect of the game is the puzzles, but sadly there isn’t much to say about them. The puzzles that are to be found throughout the game aren’t exactly hard or very engaging, at all. How you solve them is usually very clear and they feel more like a small bump in the road than a puzzle that will really get your brain working.
Sorcery is one of the best Playstation Move games out there, and makes proper use of the motion controller’s capabilities. It’s a short fun time that doesn’t push the boundaries in a technical aspect, but it also has quite a few problems and is lacking a certain amount of polish that could have truly made it shine. Considering how long the game has been in development it’s a shame the game only goes for about 6-8 hours, has virtually no replay value, is mostly very linear (besides from a few obviously placed treasures) and has problems to do with the combat. None-the-less this may be the game that gets a lot of owners to brush off their PS Move and finally be able to use it towards a good game since the peripherals initial release.