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Sorcery Review (PS3)

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Sorcery

Sorcery

Image © Sony
Sony hasn't provided nearly enough reasons to dig out the PlayStation Move since its launch (although for a few games designed for the whole family, check out this feature) but they're giving it one more try and it's in a logical direction for a technology that inherently resembles one of the iconic instruments of the fantasy genre. "Sorcery," which hit stores on May 29, 2012, is a magic game designed primarily for the little ones in the family. It's not an overly complex game and one wishes it were a little deeper in terms of storytelling and a little less repetitive in terms of mechanics but there aren't nearly enough quality games aimed at pre-teens whose parents aren't yet ready to introduce them to the often ultra-violent genres in gaming. "Sorcery" works for them.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
  • Developer: The Workshop
  • ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10 and Older)
  • Genre: Fantasy Action
  • Pros: Reason to Use Your Move, Under-served Target Audience, Clever Gameplay
  • Cons: Repetitive Action, Uninspired Storytelling, Mediocre Graphics

The first thing you need to know is that this is a "PlayStation Move Required" game. Don't pick it up if you don't yet have a Move or else be prepared for a very disappointed child who won't be able to cast spells, turn keys, or brew potions. The core of the game's appeal is pretty simple and sketched out on the back of the case -- "The PlayStation Move motion controller is your magic wand!" While it would have been nice if this was more of a starting point and less of an end one, there's no denying the simple appeal of this concept, especially for children at that age when everything magical is too exciting for words (those reading "Harry Potter" for the first time come to mind).

Gameplay

Sorcery

Sorcery

Image © Sony

The gameplay is simple enough in that most players will use the Sixaxis controller to move with one hand and the other to cast spells with their Move controller doubling as a magic wand. Aim is simplified (if you're generally in the right direction then you'll hit your target) for little ones and the majority of spell-casting is of the destructive, kill-the-bad-guy variety. The best part of the game incorporate a bit of puzzle-solving into the combat (for example, shooting a magic bolt through fire enhances its potency) but the game gets remarkably repetitive, to the point that players could succeed relatively well just by swinging the Move randomly in every direction once combat begins.

It doesn't help that the storytelling is disappointingly thin. You play Finn, a magician's apprentice, a common character in the young adult fantasy lexicon. Like so many wannabe sorcerers throughout fiction, you decide to open the locked cabinet and your adventure begins. Through encouragement from your talking cat partner Erline, Finn starts off with an adventurous trip to the land of the dead and, before you can say "Muggle," he's zapping zombies, setting trolls on fire, and shaking the brewing potions.

The developers of "Sorcery" were wise to include a few other uses for the Move outside of combat. With cues, it can be used to open doors or move objects that stand in your way. And the game gets more interesting once alchemy comes into the narrative as you can find ingredients and use the Move to combine them into attribute-enhancing potions (by mimicking the act of pouring, shaking, stirring, etc.) Using the Move controller as a magic wand is simple enough but were that its only function, "Sorcery" would get stale pretty quickly.

It still does get a bit repetitive. The biggest problem is the lack of innovation in terms of enemies and environments. Most of the places that Finn visits are pretty boring and uninspired (although I did like the ability to zap objects in the world like when I randomly turned a sheep into a pig). Worse are the enemies that are both visually uninspired and downright glitchy. I watched a troll stand in front of me waiting for me to shoot him as another did what looked like a dance trying to run through a well.

As the game opens up and more spells, potions, and enemies are revealed, it becomes notably stronger. And one must always keep its target audience in mind. The pre-teen audience for whom "Sorcery" was made forgives repetition as it keeps a game like this one easier to play for the household members who cannot yet master the more complicated, popular titles.

Graphics & Sound

As I mentioned, the character and environment designs can be disappointing. I can forgive simplicity of gameplay and repetition in games aimed at younger players more than I can laziness in terms of design and yet so many family games often seem under-developed visually. Such is the case with "Sorcery." It's not an ugly game but the worlds could have been more detailed and the characters could have been more interestingly designed.

Bottom Line

Sorcery

Sorcery

Image © Sony
If I was a ten-year-old boy, I would totally dig "Sorcery." Being much older than I care to admit, I can see the flaws of a game that could have treated its target audience with a little more respect but it's hard to deny the power of the gimmick. Who doesn't want to use their PlayStation Move as a magic wand? It's amazing it took this long.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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