Dust off your Move controllers and flex your spell casting wrist boys and girls, because Sorcery is here and it’s bringing carpal tunnel inducing fantasy to your living room.
Sorcery is of course the entirely PlayStation Move-controlled fantasy action adventure game which was first announced back at E3 2010, shortly before the launch of the Move peripherals, and now a mere two years later it is finally here! This game was one of the reasons I was first enticed to buy the PS3’s motion controllers, and my sheer lack of motivation to get off my arse and trade them in after a year without use is the reason why I am now reviewing it.
The story of Sorcery is quite clichéd and uninspired, following the mischievous sorcerer’s apprentice Finn (his wand arm waggles when yours does!) and his feline friend Erline on a quest to put an end to the tyranny of the evil Nightmare Queen. The banter between Finn and Erline is mostly predictable, and unfortunately attempts at character development which were presumably designed to get you invested in the characters fall flat. As usual there comes a time when you are supposed to care about the characters but I found myself not really bothered with it all and just keen to get on with playing. Perhaps that is just my own cynicism about video game narratives these days but there you go.
The graphics and sound of the game were also quite average, although some of the spell effects are nice to look at, the frame rate seemed to stutter once or twice while playing. The soundtrack, which is available for purchase separately if you are that way inclined, is a fitting orchestral score but it isn’t particularly hero-inspiring and sounds much the same as other games in the genre.
Now to the real focus of the game, the Move controls, and they certainly do focus on them. Sorcery makes use of both the Move controller (the one with the ball on top) and the Navigation controller (can be substituted with a dual shock controller held in one hand) so it is in no way an on-rails game which is a plus. The biggest issue I had with movement was the camera controls, or lack thereof. The only control over the point of view you have is by pressing the L1 button on the navigation controller to center the camera towards the way Finn is facing. This creates some frustrating moments when I was trying to get my view exactly where I wanted it.
The spellcasting mechanic is really quite responsive, and despite hearing complaints about needing recalibration of the controls regularly, I didn’t have to do it at all. I had a few times while playing where the spells I cast did not quite go where I wanted them, but it did not happen often enough to really frustrate me. The magic system was really quite interesting with fire, ice, wind, earth, and lightning spells all selectable using different gestures. The spell combo mechanic allows the player to join together different spells to create varying results such as casting a fire wall on the ground, and then send a whirlwind through it to create a fire tornado. Although fun, it did get old by the time I finished the game. You could argue of course that these spells could all be cast easier using a normal controller with buttons, but the ability to aim them directly with the controller while casting, as well as fast switching between spells makes it really quite efficient.
The most inane use of the motion controls however is the alchemy system. After collecting various ingredients throughout the game you can combine them to create a number of potions which provide you with a permanent effect such as health or damage increases. This acts as the RPG element of the game, in that rather than needing to work with skills and stats you just select the potion you think would suit you best. By the end of my playthrough I had not found enough ingredients or money to be able to make all the potions, so that sort of creates a bit of diversity for a second playthrough. That may sound great, but the inane part is how you create the potions. Each one uses three ingredients, and after you select the three you have to add them to a cauldron and stir them. This process uses four different motions depending on your choice of ingredient including shaking, pouring, turning a handle and stirring. While novel at first, it certainly gets old after the 10th potion you have to mix.
That isn’t the only annoying use of motion controls in the game though, it also has a number of moments where you have to direct a key into a lock and turn the controller to open a door. This is an unnecessary mechanic and just serves to waste time and frustrate you.
I didn’t encounter many bugs with the game, except for a couple of clipping issues. In the first level I got stuck temporarily twice, however a bit of vicious wiggling of the analog stick and liberal use of the dodge button eventually got me out. The only other buggy moment I encountered was on the second boss of the game where he got stuck against a set of stairs depending on where I was standing, disabling my ability to harm him until I drew him out the opposite way. That boss fight was so frustrating because of a combination of that and the fact that I died twice during a cut scene where my character killed him, which made me reset back to the last checkpoint. The situation where you can die during a cut scene where you have no control of your character is extremely ridiculous to me, however I eventually got through it.
All in all I think Sorcery is passable, and for a Move game it is really quite good. It made very competent use of the Move technology and was fun to play despite the lacklustre story. If you have got the controllers already I would definitely suggest picking it up, however if you don’t then this may not be reason enough to buy them unless they bring out some kind of bundle.
The copy of Sorcery which was used for this review was provided by a PR company representing Sony Computer Entertainment Australia.