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Hands On: Sorcery

We meet at last.

I was really rather excited when I opened my mail to find a preview copy of PlayStation Move exclusive title, Sorcery, staring back at me. I, like many others, was suitably impressed when the game was originally shown off many moons ago; in fact the only reason I still have Move is that I wanted to get my hands on this game. So, that’s a rather hefty bag of expectation I’ve dumped on Sorcery’s lap – can it live up to it?

The game’s protagonist is an over-confident sorcerer’s apprentice named Finn. The boy seems to have a penchant for getting into trouble, and indeed one of the first tasks the game has us do is steal a wand from his master. From there it all goes a bit wrong, and Finn accidently blows up an important potion that was brewing.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing he doesn't want to be friends.
Worried about what will happen to him, he allows the sorcerer’s cat, Erline, to goad him into heading to a dangerous area in search of replacement ingredients for the potion. I’m not really allowed to mention what happens after that, but let’s just say it catches the attention of the Nightmare Queen, who brings down all her fury upon the town Finn lives in.

The sound and visuals are other areas I won’t dwell on for too long. Being a preview build, there are always issues such as minor glitches and the like, which will (hopefully!) be smoothed out come release day. The Unreal Engine has been put to good use though, especially when it comes to the lighting effects.

It’s the control scheme that I’m sure you’re all dying to know about, though, seeing as how it exclusively uses the PlayStation Move and Navigation Controller (or DS3). You control Finn via the analog stick on the Navigation Controller, with the L1 button used to centre the camera. When acquired, the L2 button is used to bring up Finn’s magical shield which will block attacks that aren’t too powerful.

Move is used to control Finn’s wand. Initially, a simple flick of the controller will see Finn fire off a magical bolt. Aim Move high and the bolt will go high, aim low and the bolt will go low. Holding Move to the side and flicking it will see Finn shoot a curved bolt, which will hit enemies hiding behind objects. So far so good.

The further you progress, the more spells become unlocked. In the preview build I unlocked ice, fire, whirlwind and earth (no sign of Captain Planet though). To access these you have to hold down the Move’s trigger button, and trace the required shape. It sounds awkward, but the shapes are very simple and it soon becomes second nature. What surprised me was the fact that Move recognised me tracing these shapes every time, without any fuss.

Whilst powerful on their own, the real beauty of the spell system is when you start combining things. For example, the little spiders are a nightmare to take on one by one, so simply cast whirlwind, which sucks them all up, then switch to fire and chuck a fireball in there which instantly incinerates the lot. In fact, whirlwind is the key to a lot of the spell-based fun that can be had. This isn’t just used for killing enemies, either. There’s a decent sprinkling of puzzles scattered about, and they will require the use of more than one power.

There’s also magic that can be used when in a non-combative situation. Mend allows Finn to fix broken bridges, and is simply a case of rotating the Move in a clockwise direction. Telekinesis allows Finn to move obstacles that have blocked the path ahead, and is usually done by flicking Move to the left or right. Polymorph will allow Finn, in certain locations, to take on the form of any animal in the surrounding area. For example, if Finn changes into a rat he can access areas previously unreachable.

What’s good is the fact that, despite the option to play on “casual”, Sorcery feels like a game designed for core players. It’s no slouch when it comes to difficulty either, and Finn is always outnumbered by at least four to one, unless he’s fighting a boss or one of the larger enemies, such as the troll.

When not creating toasted spiders, you’ll be dabbling in a bit of alchemy. By exploring the levels, you’ll find a load of seemingly useless collectibles scattered about. Hold on to them though, as occasionally you’ll run into the alchemist, where you can sell the tat in exchange for potion ingredients. Potions are made by combining three ingredients, and it’s down to you to experiment and find out the useful stuff.

Environmental design is nice.
One combination may make you stronger, whilst another may increase your mana – as long as you have a bag full of ingredients, and enough bottles to store them in, you’ll have fun trying to make new potions.

So far this preview has been positive, but there are a number of things I don’t like. Control of the camera is out of your hands (save for the ability to centre it), and during hectic battles it sometimes gets overwhelmed and can’t keep up with what’s going on. For example, I was in a situation where there were two enemies on a ledge above, and three on the ground near me.

What I wanted to do was take out the ones on the ledge, as they had projectiles, but the camera was adamant that it needed to focus on the enemies on the ground. By then I had been flanked, but couldn’t see the enemy as I had no control over the camera. I moved Finn to try and get a better look, but then the camera decided to shift the focus onto the enemies on the ledge. This meant I was being attacked from all angles but couldn’t see half of what was going on. It rarely gets that frustrating, but when it happens it’s not a good experience.

The camera once again causes problems when evading. Some enemies advance quite quickly, so you’ll want to back up whilst keeping an eye on them. Due to the lack of camera control, there were a number of times where I backed myself into a corner, and the only way to see how I could escape was to turn and centre the camera, and by that time I was being chopped to pieces.

Saying that, I enjoyed the few hours I had playing Sorcery. For the most part the Move controls have been done really well, although sometimes hitting targets at a distance can be a bit of a pain. Whilst not game-breaking, the camera can be frustrating at times, but if you stick with it you’ll find a game with likeable characters, a decent story and interesting controls.

Is it time to dust off your Move? I’d say so.

  1. stueeeee
    Since: Jun 2009

    Well I e never found a good use for the move, except for Tumble and a bit of novelty in Killzone and Socom, so this I shall follow with interest. Hoping for a demo!

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 15:34.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Dead Space Whatchmacallit was good

      Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 15:44.
      • BIGAL-1992
        Since: Jan 2009

        Dead Space: Extraction?

        Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 15:52.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        No Dead Space Whatchmacallit :D

        Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 16:32.
      • scavenga
        Since: Jul 2009

        It wasn’t better than Start The Party Thingymabob, though.

        Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 18:04.
      • hazelam
        Since: Feb 2009

        that was the sequel to Dead Space Somethingorother wasn’t it?

        i hear the new sequel, Dead Space Thatoneyouknowthatonewiththestuff is going to be set on a planet.

        Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 18:19.
  2. Zoddi
    Since: May 2009

    House of the Dead Overkill not to forget ;)

    Sorcery is interesting….but when will it be released?

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 15:37.
    • Dan Lee
      Common like the rest of us.
      Since: Jun 2010

      End of May for the EU. I think about the same time for the US as well.

      Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 15:43.
  3. MOVE
    Since: Mar 2010

    22 May in the US, 23 in mainland Europe and probably 25 in the UK.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 15:48.
  4. colmshan1990
    Since: Apr 2009

    Looking forward to playing, I’ll probably get it after I arrive home after the Euros, along with Gravity Rush.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 16:00.
  5. skibadee
    Since: Oct 2009

    great read got this on preorder.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 16:03.
  6. scavenga
    Since: Jul 2009

    I’ve really enjoyed my Move so far, although mostly in burst sessions of Tumble, Start The Party, Medieval Moves, House Of The Dead, Dead Space and the vastly overlooked “Starter Disc”.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 18:07.
  7. gaffers101
    Since: Oct 2008

    Time to dust of the Move!!

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 18:50.
  8. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Day one all being well.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 20:14.
  9. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    Good of Sony to release a PS2 game in its final days, what… It’s PS3?

    Seriously will be good to get a Move game, can’t help thinking this should have been a launch games and we should be talking about the amazing Sorcery2 now. Better late than never though

    Comment posted on 09/04/2012 at 20:28.
  10. ProjectJAY
    Since: Aug 2009

    Good to hear it’s shaping up nicely, finally something to break the Move out for other than MJ The Experience :P

    Comment posted on 10/04/2012 at 14:21.