Review: Sorcery

The Move controller being what it is lends it to be ideal for three things: a magic wand, a light sabre and an accessory in an adult film. While the criminal lack of a Star Wars game continues, and likelihood of a sex game remains as low as it probably ought to be, the magic wand idea has caught on with the long awaited release of Sorcery. Having been shown off at the same E3 that demonstrated the Move in the first place, it’s been a long time coming.

The problem with the Move, and the reasons a lot of people say they’re sat in drawers taking up valuable sock space, is the lack of games. There’s no doubting the quality and accuracy of the hardware, and a few games like Killzone and SOCOM did a decent job of integrating it (and the upcoming Portal 2 Move patch looks awesome) but generally it’s been a pretty barren crop. Most releases have been family oriented and a bit rubbish, so games that are built solely for the Move but aimed at a more general gamer are practically non-existent. Step forward Sorcery, a game that could easily be mistaken for a kid’s game but has its roots firmly in the camp of the average gamer.

As a mere apprentice, your in-game counterpart takes off on an adventure that starts off accidentally when he borrows a powerful magic wand, and turns into a mission to save a princess, who is currently a cat, from her less desirable mother. Along the way you’ll meet a range of nasty undead creatures and dangers, unlock more powerful spells and generally become a bit of a badass. The game itself is pretty good fun, the story is decent and visually things look fairly pretty once you get past the first couple of hours. But it’s the use of the Move that I’m more interested in, given that it’s the only way of playing the game.

Unlike others, Sorcery doesn’t feel like it’s using the Move as a gimmick. Move your arm, and Finn’s arm moves in exactly the same way. The Move’s much discussed (but rarely used) 1:1 mapping works like a charm (pardon the pun) even down to the angle you’re holding the wand at, and the consistency in casting spells and suchlike is impressive. A simple flick of the wand sends a quick bolt in the direction you aim in, which again does a good job of replicating what you’re trying to do. Being able to aim high and low as well as side to side is a good touch, and being able to bend your shots round corners takes practice, but is a very neat trick and worth getting familiar with. The only difficulty is an odd occasion when you’re switching spells and it doesn’t recognise the right movement, but it’s infrequent enough to suggest that was my lack of coordination as opposed to anything in the game.

But quite soon these spells get upped considerably, and before long you’ll be playing around with some devastating tricks that, despite being tougher to cast, can even be combined to serve up some meaty attacks. This helps to take some pretty rubbish spells such as the wind-based attacks and combine them with, for example, fire to create a great looking fire storm which is far more damaging and looks 10 times better. The Move helps to build the feeling that you’re kicking quite a bit of ass, and because it’s quite a cool game you don’t look like too much of a cock playing it. With motion gaming having the reputation it’s got, it’s refreshing to actually feel like you can get engrossed without people sniggering at you dancing round the room.

So the Move side of things works well. Thank God. And yet the game itself is a combination of promising ideas and great potential mixed in with missed opportunities and disappointing decisions. The two main characters have a good relationship and the banter is reasonable, but it falls some way short of the brilliant dialogue in Shadows of the Damned for example, which also featured a main character with a non-contributing sidekick. There are treasure chests knocking around that need to be found to discover little trinkets and extra money, but the game itself ends up being quite linear, to the point that a fork in the road usually means one way is the route forward, the other is to a hidden chest. There could have been so much more exploring, especially with spells uncovering or unblocking routes to other areas, but it’s mostly just A to B. The slow progression in the early stages does a good job or breaking you in gently to how things work, but takes things a bit too slowly and gets very close to becoming long winded in the lead up to the cool stuff.

It’s not that Sorcery is a bad game, because it’s not. It’s one of the best things you can use your Move for and will finally make you realise that there’s actually some potential in Sony’s kit. It’s just that there are missed opportunities where you can’t help but wonder if they were so keen to finally get this into the shops¬† they decided to cut a couple of corners. You won’t want to rush out and buy a Move just to play this (unless you really want to be a wizard, in which case you might) but if that controller is sat looking lonely, and you want to see just what it can do, then this isn’t a bad shout. It’s also available for around ¬£25 which is a wise move, and certainly makes it a more attractive option.

Reviewed on PS3

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