First unveiled almost two years ago, with a brilliant demonstration at Sony’s 2010 E3 conference, Sorcery has gone through many changes since its inception. After disappearing for the best part of a year a redesigned Sorcery surfaced, but does this game live up to the by now enormous expectations that two years of hype has built?
It’s a tough one to judge: Sorcery, as a game for PlayStation Move, is wonderful and features arguably the best and most intuitive use of motion controls to date. However, compared to its non-motion controlled contemporaries it isn’t anything particularly special; a fun but ultimately shallow game, though not a bad one by any means.[boxout]The game follows a sorcerer’s apprentice, Finn, and his magical talking feline sidekick, Erline. Unlike other companions, Erline is never a burden – she won’t get in the way during combat and can teleport ahead, so there’s need to wait for her. She’s very much like Navi or Midna in The Legend of Zelda, though thankfully not as irritating. Erline plays a rather large role in the plot, moving the narrative forwards and fleshing out the backstory along the way. The bond between Finn and Erline is excellent; it’s completely believable and one of the better parts of Sorcery overall.
Sorcery’s story involves Finn and Erline saving the world from a treacherous power – the Nightmare Queen with her legion of corrupted minions – based on Irish mythology and folklore. This narrative is told through animated storybook scenes, which have a nice style to them but leave the game feeling disjointed. Although they are animated with accompanying audio, you don’t get to see everything taking place during them (sort of like a motion comic), making it hard to visualise the action at times.
Sorcery’s success lies in its control system. Using PlayStation Move and the sub-controller – or the DualShock – you’re able to not only fire spells off, but move Finn around the area very easily making for a much more fleshed-out action game – this isn’t simply an on-rails shooter.
These motion controls appear to have been refined since Sorcery made its debut; it’s actually quite a fluid system that harnesses the 1:1 motion of the Move controller to its full potential. All it takes to fire an Arcane bolt is a flick of the controller, though an amount of dexterity is required as you’ll have to aim high, low or even curve your bolts with a sweep of your wand to hit your targets. It’s not always spot-on, but the accuracy of Move along with the aim assist means that you won’t have too much trouble disposing of enemies.[drop2]Even though Finn is right handed, the movements still manage to transfer well if you use your left hand, due to the Playstation Eye. Switching between spells is surprisingly swift for the most part; the several spells in Sorcery can be selected by holding the Move button and flicking or spinning the controller in the right direction, time slowing as you make your selection. It’s all very easy to do with the exception of the ice and wind spells, where it can be hard to differentiate between the two in frantic moments of combat.
Aside from the basic arcane bolts, there are five other types of elemental spells – earth, ice, wind, fire and lightning – that are collected as the game progresses. Unlike the arcane magic, these five spells cost mana to use and take some time to recharge. Each of these spells (bar earth, oddly) have different attacks for flicking or sweeping the controller. Wind, for example, fires out a gust of wind which pushes enemies back with a flick of the wand, or conjures a tornado when a sweeping motion is performed.
The variety of spells allows for many different styles of play, which enriches the combat experience. Spells can even be combined, with devastating effects. Finn can conjure a tornado, combine it with fire and then hit it with arcane bolts to create homing, fiery bolts of doom. It’s quite fun experimenting with different combinations, and though they are somewhat limited, there’s enough to keep you experimenting.
There are other spells, too, including a shield which blocks incoming projectiles and allows you to bash enemies that get too close; a useful ability when you’re cornered. As well as using your main selection of spells outside of combat in order to progress (freezing a river with ice, for example), standalone unlocking and mending spells can be used at certain sections by circling the Move controller.
With all of these attacks, wand combat in Sorcery is a satisfying affair; a nice degree of difficulty being added due to the enemies having regenerative health – you can’t hide and break down their defences slowly, so have to attack them head on. Once you begin to master the spells you’ll feel extremely powerful, though some sections will be challenging and boss battles even more so if you come unprepared.
These boss battles in Sorcery are always fun though; there’s often a particular tactic you’ll need to employ to bring their health bar down and it usually varies from boss to boss, meaning the fights never get too repetitive.