It would be fair to say that people might need a little reminding of what Sorcery is. Unveiled at E3 2010, Sorcery looked set to be the hardcore game for PlayStation Move fans, but it went rather dark afterwards and we’ve heard little or nothing about it since; at least it had gone dark until now.
First things first, this is no party game collection. Far too many motion controlled games, be it Move, Kinect or the Wii, are simply a collection of party games, which is part of the problem for the core gamer. You’d expect Sony’s Santa Monica Studios to produce a “proper” game and it appears they have delivered in spades.
The formula for making the killer Move game actually seems rather simple; you have this incredibly precise motion controller that can be utilised with the navigation controller to allow the player to have complete control over movement and thus, the adventure. This is why Sorcery feels so excellent in the hands. There is absolutely nothing “on-the-rails” about Sorcery, you have complete control over your character, but you also have the ability to move the camera, so you can dodge enemy attacks with the roll move then correct the camera, if needed, pretty quickly, so you’re never blindsided by enemy attacks.
So movement is covered, but what do the motion controls do? Put simply, the Move controller is your magic wand. Whatever angle an enemy is attacking you from – they’ll come at you direct, they’ll hide behind cover, they’ll fire arrows at you from high – you can fire magic spells at them. The precision of the Move tech itself lends itself so well to this kind of gameplay, but they don’t stop there. You can curve your shots too, so if an enemy is in cover you can bend the spell round the (for example) rock they’re hiding behind and nail them still. As you progress you’ll unlock yet more toys to play with, including a shield which can be used to protect yourself from enemy attacks or even just used to barge the enemy in order to give yourself some breathing space. The generic arcane bolt spell is unlimited, but the more powerful magic like Earth uses up a meter, so has to be used sparingly.
Sorcery also differs from most motion controlled games in difficulty too. Among the difficult settings – and there are quite a few – there is a “gamer” setting, although it isn’t the hardest setting, it will definitely see your skills tested in combat. The first major boss was actually quite tricky, using the age old technique of memorising patterns, it required a deft hand and some quick reflexes to defeat.
Once you’ve explored the first dungeon, you’ll start to learn even more about the mechanics though, and a simple arcane bolt can be transformed into a flaming one by throwing it through fire before it hits the enemy. This does massive damage, as you’d expect. All of this is done whilst looking gorgeous. Sorcery has a distinctive art style about it, almost cartoon-like, yet retaining a realistic appearance; it’s a really pretty game.
Sorcery manages to marry exploration into its experience and you’ll be off finding treasure chests galore in no time. This actually leads me to one of the best things about the entire game; how natural it feels. To open a chest you don’t have to go up and press an arbitrary button, instead you wave your magic wand in an anti-clockwise direction to open it. You’d think this would get old fast, but somehow it doesn’t, the immersive feeling it creates is palpable. Moving the wand in a clockwise direction however, fixes broken parts of the environment. So for example, if you go up to a broken bridge and swing your wand around, it will fix the bridge, allowing you access to something previously hidden away.
In a similar manner, to drink a health potion you have to hold a button to get it out, shake the potion, then raise it to drink it. Try as you might, every single time you’ll hold the “potion” to your mouth, even though you don’t have to. You also have a telekinesis ability which helps you solve puzzles and find yet more secret areas – always a joy – and this is done by simply moving the Move controller in a sideways motion. Simple, intuitive, fun.
It’s with great trepidation I say this, dear reader, but it all feels very much like…Zelda. Finding treasure chests, solving puzzles, fighting enemies toward an eventual boss, a humorous storyline with dark undertones, getting keys for doors. There’s something in Sorcery that will appeal to most gamers on a deep level, it has that secret formula that somehow makes the player want to move the story forward and see the next magical thing they could get to use.
The core gamers who are also PlayStation Move fans may have endured a bit of a torrid time, but Sorcery looks set to be the hardcore experience we’ve been waiting for; maybe even the first must-own title. Combining fun exploration with great combat, I simply couldn’t put Sorcery down. The precision of the controls, along with a really enjoyable sense of humour and hugely engaging gameplay means that Sorcery is set to be a truly exciting game when it is released this May.
Sorcery is set for release on May 23rd in Europe, May 22nd in North American and June 13th in Japan, exclusively for PlayStation 3 with Move.