Published by Sony Computer
Developed by Santa Monica Studios
Whilst the PlayStation Move has been out for quite a while now it still lacks that dedicated, must-have title that would make the controller an essential purchase. On paper at least Sorcery looks as though it could have easily been the best PlayStation Move game to date. This a game that makes a great use of the Move controller with responsive, intuitive and satisfying controls for the most part. The game’s setting too is one that offers great potential but unfortunately this potential hasn’t been fully realised and you’re left wondering how good Sorcery might have been had there not been too much reliance on combat where the difficulty is determined by the quantity as opposed to the quality of your enemies in addition to a camera that’s just plain wonky.
In Sorcery you’ll play as Finn, a sorcerer’s apprentice. Finn is rather mischievous and has a thing for not doing what he’s told. He likes to regularly ‘borrow’ his master’s magic wands without permission and experiment with them which always ends up getting him into trouble. At the beginning of the game Dash, Finn’s master, has to go away and asks Finn to clean up and also tells him to keep his hands off his magic wands. As soon as Dash is gone however, Finn decides to grab a wand to assist him with the cleaning up, despite advice to the contrary from Erline, a talking cat. It’s not long before things go wrong and Finn destroys one of Dash’s experiments. Finn reckons he can simply repeat the experiment himself until Erline points out that there is no more grave dust, one of the ingredients for the experiment. To obtain more grave dust Finn will have to go to Lochbarrow and retrieve some from one of the coffins there. The only problem is that Lochbarrow is filled with restless dead, amongst other things.
One of the big positives with Sorcery is that its motion controls feel right. They are both responsive and for the most part accurate. Seldom have I played a motion control game without being frustrated to some degree with the controls but that’s not really the case here. Whether you’re opening locks, solving puzzles, drinking health potions, lifting large stone columns, mending bridges or stairs, or casting spells on your enemies the controls mostly feel intuitive and rarely feel awkward or nonsensical. The game also requires the navigation controller however, but you can use a standard controller if you don’t have access to one.
It’s not just the controls which give Sorcery some appeal although they certainly do add to the immersion factor of playing the role of a sorcerer’s apprentice. During the course of the game you’ll acquire a good range of spells that help to add tactical options to the combat. These spells can even be combined too and the spell casting on the whole has been implemented much satisfactorily here than in any of the Harry Potter games. There’s also some puzzle solving to do and whilst there’s nothing here that’s particularly challenging it helps to offer a change of pace from the waves of combat you’ll have to endure. You can even indulge in a spot of tonic creation from time to time and these tonics can help to reduce the difficulty of some of the battles. There are even moments in the game where you can change into an animal which helps to add some variation to the gameplay, even if these sections are not particularly enjoyable.
Throughout the game’s storyline you’ll have to engage in an awful lot of combat and whilst this isn’t necessarily a problem, I can’t help but feel that the game could have been more imaginative. The AI of the enemies is actually quite poor. The boss battles have typical attack patterns and they can be quite challenging until you’ve figured out the correct strategy to combat them. Whilst they aren’t the most impressive boss battles I have faced in a game they are generally OK. The only problem I have with the boss battles is that the game auto-targets your enemies and it can be difficult to hit the boss when other enemies are present on the screen as the game usually auto-targets them instead of the boss which can be frustrating. As for the other enemies in the game I was rather disappointed. The reason for this is that the general AI of them is actually quite poor. Even the most challenging aren’t that difficult to defeat in insolation. It’s only when they are in large groups that they become a handful and there are plenty of times when it feels as though the game is simply throwing large numbers of enemies at you to artificially ramp up the difficulty. Thanks to some defensive spells and manoeuvres it’s possible to get through these sticky patches but it doesn’t change the fact that such battles become monotonous far too quickly and really bog the pace of the game down.
Despite having to face hoards of enemies in Sorcery the thing that will give you the most problems is the camera. For some unknown reason the camera isn’t tied to Finn’s movements. Going forward in a straight line is fine but when you turn left or right or suddenly to go in the opposite direction you’ll either see him from the side on or coming towards you. This isn’t much of a problem when exploring but during the more intense battles it’s an extreme annoyance that makes the battles much more difficult than they need to be. You’ll also be bit by enemies that are off screen far too often due to camera issues and this can really be annoying. You can pull the camera back behind Finn by pressing the L1 button but having to babysit the camera in such a fashion during battles, particularly boss battles, becomes a real chore and adds unnecessary frustration to the game.
The presentation of Sorcery is absolutely fine. Graphically the game is actually a cut above what most dedicated motion control games look like as they are often, for some strange reason, rather simplistic. However, Sorcery looks like a PlayStation 3 game. The frame rate generally holds up well and load times are respectable thanks to a sizeable install that’s performed the first time you load the game. The only fly in the ointment, as we’ve already mentioned, is the camera angle. Sorcery is also subtitled although the subtitles are disabled by default. The subtitles are placed on an overlay for greater clarity and display the speaker’s name so you’ll always be aware of who is speaking. There are no captions in the game however, which is a little disappointing, although it doesn’t appear to be problematic. All tutorial information is shown visually allowing you to get to grips with the game without any fuss.
Sorcery is almost the first essential PlayStation Move only game. The game is genuinely interesting and for the most part entertaining. Unfortunately is relies heavily on combat where the difficulty is mostly determined by the amount of enemies you face rather than the quality of the enemies. The camera in the game is a stinker and during the most hectic battles, particularly the boss battles, it simply doesn’t cut the mustard allowing frustration to needlessly creep in. These problems are unfortunate and take away from what would otherwise be a game that’s very easy to recommend to those own a PlayStation Move controller.