Full disclosure: GWW was given a copy of the game for review purposes
Growing up I’ve always wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons. It’s always appealed to me, but I’ve never had friends that were into it, and now that I’m an adult with adult responsibilities, I don’t have the time to learn D&D. Yet, that yearning for adventure is still there. Sorcery! (The exclamation point is part of the title) scratches that itch for me.
Sorcery! is a nice hybrid between a high your own adventure novel and a board game. Story and actions of the game are told through text, which is interrupted when a player choice needs to be made. It’s a simple mechanic, yet I found it really enchanting. As decisions are made, a new page is literally woven into the last creating a narrative that is flowing, and could be read like a book once completed. I particularly liked passages that involved combat, as each new narrative was created depending on corresponding attacks. This made combat feel more dynamic then it really was, and helped my mind escape into the realm of fantasy it is portraying.
Although I really enjoyed the presentation of combat within the game, I didn’t enjoy actually doing it. The basic premised is the player must pick the strength of attack by sliding their character to the right or left. The further to the right the stronger the attack. If the player has a stronger attack then the opponent the opponent loses health. The trick of combat is that once an attack is made it costs stamina. Loss of stamina will limit the strength of the player’s next attack which may leave them vulnerable. By reading the passages that correspond with combat, a player may be able to decide what attack to use as sometimes the passage gives clues. Certain enemies due have “behaviors” a player can pick up on to help give them an edge but other times combat just felt like blind luck. Compared to the narrative experience of Sorcery!, combat fell short for me.
Of course, with a game like Sorcery! There is magic involved, as well. The game contains a set spell book that players can used to help them on their adventures. Each spell is comprised by three letters, and when casting a spell, the player must select the correct three letters to complete a spell in a short mini-game. For instance, to use a fireball I would spell out HOT. This sounds more complex than it really as most of the time the game knows what spells you should use and after selecting the first letter in the spell will significantly narrow your options. Spells can be really helpful in a pinch, and it was always hilarious when I cast a spell that wasn’t appropriate for the situation and nothing really happened.
Sorcery!’s presenting includes Parts 1 and 2 in a planned four part adventure. Part one involves the player starting a trek to the infamous city of Khare, on a quest to reclaim a crown which will restore piece to the land. It’s typical fantasy stuff. Part 2 takes place in the entirely in the City of Khare, which is informally dubbed the city of traps and thieves. I personally enjoyed the sense of quest and adventure in part 1 over part 2. Traveling to Khare had a sense of progression, I could see my objective and how far I was. Once in Khare you’re mission is to escape the city through a magical gate, which results in a search for nobles that know the how to get past the gate. This nebulous quest seemed overwhelming and I felt like I wandered Khare somewhat aimlessly. It works for the setting and mood of Khare, I just enjoyed the sense of travel and adventure more.
Despite my criticism, I enjoyed the game. It’s very relaxing and typically a humorous experience. While playing it for review it was my go to game when I woke up in the morning. Sipping away on coffee and slipping into the fiction and lore of the game just felt right. The game is rather causal too, any chose can easily be undo at any point in the game. I tried to stick with all choses until death, but for people that get frustrated easily they can quickly go back and make “the right” choice.
If you read choose your own adventure books as a kid, and still have that earning as an adult I would recommend Sorcery! It’s a relaxing Zen experience with potentially replayability and more content on the way. It’s also cheap being full priced at $9.99. (Currently 5.99 on Steam)