• Sorcery Review - Sony PS3

    Since its release towards the end of 2010, Sony's Move controller has had some enjoyable software, but not that all-important "killer app". Sorcery, a game first shown at E3 that same year, is now on shelves (and also available as a download) but is it enough to move (pun intended) units of the peripheral, or has it come too late?


    Sorcery tells the tale of a sorcerer's apprentice; Finn, who along with magical cat sidekick Erline, must protect his homeland from the Nightmare Queen as she tries to envelop it in darkness. It's a setup reminiscent of a summer movie aimed at pre and early teens and has enough humour, drama and action to keep even older players intrigued. Some nice Celtic-inspired background music and decent voice acting further helps to engross the player. Visually, the game looks good and even evokes the Fable series in terms of the setting at times.


    Using a combination of the Move and Navigation (or a Dual Shock 3 in its place) controllers, flicking the Move allows Finn to shoot bolts from his wand whilst the analogue stick in the other hand allows movement. There's a freedom in movement, as with more traditional third-person games (a category into which Sorcery falls), which will please those frustrated with the "on-rails" nature of some of the other Move titles. Once enemies appear however, the camera fixes itself into a position behind Finn that keeps them in sight, negating the need for any kind of lock-on mechanic and keeping waggle-induced frustration to a minimum. Trailing behind at a distance that allows threats from in front and behind to be spotted, the viewpoint for the rest of the game also makes sure of this lack of annoyance


    Aiming high or low will allow enemies at different heights to be targeted and flicks to the left or right produce a secondary attack that varies depending on the magic in use (for example, the standard Arcane attack includes a curving shot that isn't just effective at hitting foes hiding behind objects, it also looks and feels pretty good). Holding down the Move button brings up an on-screen display showing magic spells that have been learned and tracing one of a number of simple movements enables each one.


    Encompassing Arcane, Fire, Earth, Wind, Ice and Lightning, they are unlocked as progression is made through the story and are essential for defeating certain enemies and bosses. It's not just a case of having some new ways to shoot projectiles though, as in addition to, for example, using ice spells on fire-based foes (and vice-versa) they can be combined to create more powerful attacks. Casting a line of fire in front of Finn and then using the wind spell, for example, will produce a flaming tornado that causes more damage than a regular attack. It doesn't go a lot deeper than this, but goes a long way to negating any repetition that may set in through prolonged use of the standard attack. Additionally, after enough enemies have been defeated, the Hero Meter above the health display will gradually fill and once full, holding T then thrusting the Move controller downwards performs the Heroic Strike, inflicting damage to nearby foes.


    The motion control functionality isn't just limited to the combat. From repairing bridges, moving obstacles, opening doors and treasure chests using a circular swirling motion, to stirring ingredients in the alchemy pot and even solving some simple puzzles, there is always something making use of the Move controller. Everything is, for the most part, very responsive though, meaning that performing these tasks feels second nature.


    That's not to say that the traditional face buttons don't play a part. The X button performs a dodge, which is near essential throughout the game. Of similar use is Finn's shield, activated by holding the L2 button. Not just a means of blocking enemy attacks, when the X button is pressed whilst the shield is out, a charge attack is performed which, as well as holding back foes, can break down certain walls, some of which lead to useful or valuable items. The most important of which is the health-regenerating potions, activated by pressing the square button, giving the Move controller a quick shake and then holding upside down, mimicking the real-life preparation and consumption of a health tonic. This mechanic can sometimes be frustrating, especially in the midst of battle when swarmed by enemies, not to mention a little unnecessary, but in a game ruled so much by motion controls, it adds to the overall feeling of playing as a sorcerers apprentice.


    Furthermore, visiting a traveling Alchemist who appears at certain points throughout the game allows items and ingredients to be bought and sold using gold that is earned by defeating enemies, opening treasure chests and breaking open pots throughout the environments. Picking three ingredients and fusing them together will create a unique, one-use item that will boost Finn's stats. These range from increasing overall health to providing better protection against certain elemental spells to boosting attack power and are a big help in progression, especially towards the back end of the game when things get a lot tougher. With dozens of potential combinations, experimentation is rewarded and the whole process feels a lot more progressive and interesting than simply buying the potions already made.


    The Playstation Move has had a varied life thus far, from being an optional control method in games with traditional Dual Shock 3 control schemes such as the latest Killzone and Resistance titles, to giving arcade light gun classics like House of the Dead 4 a more arcade-accurate feel (despite the existence of the underused GunCon 3) and even as the way to play unique releases like Datura and PixelJunk 4am. Sony's take on Wii Sports, Sports Champions, has until now been the game to show off the peripherals potential with but for those wanting more than mini-games, light gun shooters and an alternate way of playing First-person shooters, Sorcery is well worth a look. The question of whether it would work just as well using a controller will inevitably be raised but Move gives the standard action/adventure game a new lease of life with motion controls that work well without feeling too tacked on. For that reason, those wanting more depth to the peripheral should find something to like here.

    Pros:

    - Well implemented motion controls.
    - Well presented.
    - Enough variation to hold the interest.

    Cons:

    - Story and setting may put some off.
    - Probably won't convince the waggle-averse to give motion controls a go.

    Developer: Santa Monica Studios
    Publisher: Sony
    Other Versions: N/A
    Version Reviewed: PAL

    Score: 8/10

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Daragon's Avatar
      Daragon -
      I'm very much intrigued by this game I must say. Gamespot's review sounds quite scathing but an 8/10 sounds good coming from the highly discerning tastes of a Bordersdown reviwer (a 4 for Xenoblade Chronicles? For reals?).

      Worth buying for an RPG fan? How's the longevity?
    1. Johnny's Avatar
      Johnny -
      Well, it wasn't me who reviewed Xenoblade so...

      As for an RPG fan? No real RPG elements here to speak of, outside of the alchemy side of experiementing with potion combinations. Takes around 5-8 hours all told, depending on difficulty.
    1. Daragon's Avatar
      Daragon -
      I should have probably been clearer. I wasn't meaning you as in yourself, but the general group of people consisting of the bordersdown.net review consortium

      Back to this, 5-8 hours sounds like a bargain basement pickup to me. I wouldn't mind a good move game for use with my new hardware and accessories, but it needs to be priced right.
    1. Johnny's Avatar
      Johnny -
      Ah sorry, my mistake! Yeah the pricing/length is something that different people will have different opinions on, but if you want something to make the most of the Move controller, then this is probably the best example.