Remember Sorcery? Sony showed it off when they announced their Wii-like motion controlled gizmo, the Playstation Move, at E3 2010. It’s a title that intrigued many gamers upon its announcement, but instead of being a launch title for the new controller it ended up being both delayed and generally ignored right up until the moment it dropped through my letterbox last week. But is it the piece of magic destined to save the Playstation Move, or yet another flop for Sony’s below-par venture into the world of motion control? I hastily blew the dust off my Move and found out.
Firstly, it’s important to note that this isn’t a title in which Move is an optional choice. Sorcery is a game designed to be played with the Move controller and the use of a normal Sixaxis control is not an option. Whilst this instantly eradicates millions of potential customers who have thus far refrained from picking up the Move, it means the game is designed to be played with a motion controller and feels better for it.
In Sorcery you control Finn, apprentice to a wise, experienced mage named Dash. Joined by your best friend Erline, a sarcastic talking cat, you embark on a perilous adventure to stop the evil Nightmare Queen, who, naturally, is hell-bent on world domination. The game’s narrative is the kind of thing you’d expect from a children’s book, but it’s brought to life by a couple of well utilised features that make the Sorcery’s fairy-tale yarn reasonably compelling.
Graphically Sorcery is what you’d expect from a Playstation-exclusive, but it’s the games art-syle, which is based on Irish mythology, that really impresses. Everything from the environments to characters invoke the game’s Celtic art-style and it’s an art-direction that is most pleasing; and whilst it all looks good it’s the stoned floors and beautiful architecture that weave magic into this adventurous spell-caster. The voice-acting on offer is also very impressive. Finn takes the majority of the dialogue, but it’s The Last Exorcism’s Ashley Bell who steals the show as the protagonist’s feline friend Erline. It’s these two factors that really help Sorcery become a strong, if not revolutionary, narrative experience.
Of course, none of this matters if the gameplay isn’t up to scratch, so I’m pleased to report that Sorcery fully realises the potential of the Move controller and is an absolute blast to play. Combat makes up the bulk of the game, and as soon as you take out your first bad guy with a sharp flick of the Playstation Move controller, you’ll be hooked. The wide grin on my face when I encountered my first few enemies in Sorcery confirmed to me that this game is the most enjoyable Move release currently on the market, and one of the best forays into motion-control since Zelda’s latest outing.
Your controller acts as Dash’s wand, and Sorcery’s combat mechanic makes full use of the Playstation Move’s capabilities. You’ll have to aim your spells at enemies, whether they are above, below or to the side of you, ensuring combat is more than just random waves of the Move controller at the screen.
At the start of your journey you’ll only be able to cast a rather basic arcane bolt, but as your adventure continues you’ll learn new spells, leading to a real sense of progression. At the start of Sorcery you’ll feel like an apprentice, but by the game’s climax you’ll become an epic sorcerer, sending flaming tornados and ice bolts to obliterate anyone that dares get in your way. The spells you unlock are particularly interesting because they can be combined to maximise damage. For example, you can freeze an enemy with the ice spell and shatter him in one hit with a well-aimed arcane bolt, or even send a gush of wind through a fire wall to burn nearby enemies. The way the spells work with each-other gives a real depth to the combat, and you’ll want to continue your adventure to see what new abilities you’ll learn next.
The game also serves up some really exciting boss battles which include fights against trolls and elf assassins. There’s a wide range of enemies you’ll be faced with, some of which require utilisation of specific spells to take them down. Early on you’ll be able to rely on using your arcane bolt to take out most of your foes, as you progress you’ll need to use all of the spells in your arsenal. If you’re not tired of looting then there’s also a fair bit of it to be done in Sorcery. By looting you can find ingredients, and by combining three of these ingredients you can create a potion that will make Finn stronger in several different ways. Sorcery is a linear game, but you still have to do a bit of looking around to find chests and other goodies.
Sorcery does well to implement Move controls at every possibility. You’ll use your glowing motion controller to stir ingredients, open locks and drink potions, which really adds to the fun and overall immersion of Sorcery. In fact, when playing through The Workshop’s spell-casting creation, there weren’t many flaws to be found. The camera angle can be problematic, but only when you’re not in combat and therefore it’s not that big of an issue.
The main issue, however, is the lack of content offered by Sorcery. The game takes around six hours to complete, and there’s no real reason to go back other than to hunt down trophies or finish it on a harder difficulty setting. This game took three years to make, and whilst I appreciate it’s selling for a little less than a normal retail game there’s just not enough to do more. I’m all for a short, focused experience, but Sorcery leaves you wanting more and it’s a real shame that’s not delivered.
In essence, Sorcery is the reason to own a Playstation Move. As soon as you start playing you’ll realise that. But there’s simply not enough on offer, and as much as I loved the gameplay, characters and art-style Sorcery feels like a game in dire need of extension. This is the best Move game on offer, and if you own Sony’s motion-control then your purchase has finally been justified. The problem is you’ll finish Sorcery, put your Move controller down and continue playing a game that sells for the same price as it but offers a hell of a lot more.