Review | Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Parts 1 & 2

“Right then lads!” I exclaim walking into the lounge, in my hand a bottle of beer. Three gentlemen, scruffy-looking ragamuffins I should say, look at me, turning their backs to the table they are sat at. “It’s time to go home.” I announce. “But…hang on, we only just got here” Freddie says. “Yeah, Simon’s only just took his slippers off!” Desmond points out. Simon’s there, holding a slipper in his left hand whilst gripping some die in his right; he looks rather confused, but that’s Simon for ya’.  “Come on, time to go!” I natter on. “What’s the rush!? I thought we were sitting down to play some RPG” Desmond questions.  “Not anymore, I just found Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! I don’t need you guys any more!”
Paper maps, paper, people, paper dialog, this game almost celebrates the original 1980 books!
Paper maps, paper, people, paper dialog, this game almost celebrates the original 1980 books!

That’s exactly what’s going to happen to loads of tabletop RPG fans. It’s time to toss the books, and grab the office chair; ’cause Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! has been turned into a game! Well, it was an app back a few years ago, but this is the PC edition. The original books from the 1980’s have been kept true to their form in the transition to Inkle’s digital adaption, and it is just magical to play.

Who remember’s floppy disks? Now who remember’s “Rogue”? My Father used to let me sit and play it for ages, with me making my own choices as I went along each dungeon level; I love those types of games. Sorcery! Gripped me from the moment it started. The elegant hand drawn artwork stylised and blended into modern fluid animations makes any person weak at the knees. Not forgetting the fact that there’s 1000’s of choices to go for throughout the game.

The game is realised as a map, laid out over a table, with your character similarly represented by a tabletop piece. It gives the feeling that you’re playing a fantastical pop-up storybook, while still delivering the deep world of the books.

Beautiful artwork appears all over the place. This game is stunning.
Beautiful artwork appears all over the place. This game is stunning.

The game has a fantastic soundtrack, a soundtrack that really keeps your attention, but then you’d expect it too as the game is essentially textual with a constant animated illustration, so having a soundtrack as gripping as this while you read is almost an essential! Interestingly, Inkle have not only designed the map/characters as paperwork, but also the text is paper pieces with handwriting on them. How more stylised do you want to go!? I love it.

The fighting is interesting, it’s about wit, and you have a stamina bar, health bar, and you drag your character closer to the enemy, with each level of closeness indicating a different attack. The closer you get, the stronger the attack. Don’t go thinking you can just smash out some powerful moves though, because you need to actually read the textual cues that update each move to allow yourself to have the tactical advantage, they tell you the enemies body language and what approach you may want to take next.

Not planning your next attack could prove fatal.
Not planning your next attack could prove fatal.

Now, I slightly lied earlier. The game isn’t fully top down; you will have moments where the game will transition to another camera angle, but keeps things in 2D perspective. In Part 2, there’s a moment in the beginning where you play a game with an old man, that game is Swindlestones, which is all about lies and deceit, it’s a game that features throughout with other characters. The game changes from top down, to having the man on the right, and your character hand on the left. It’s really cleverly done. The combat is also portrayed in a side-on viewpoint, as it changes to a side shot, mimicking most fighter games.

Something that’s also really well done, is the magic. To cast a spell you are taken to a screen where you must select the correct letters to spell the type of spell you wish to cast. It’s your job to remember what words cast what spell. Spells are made up of three letters, that normally create a word. There are 48 spells to master so it’s time to get memorising!

If you’ve gotten so far, but then realised that you’re either not enjoying the story, or that you’ve missed something or made a wrong choice, you have the option to go back through every choice and take a different path. Ff only we could do that in reality…but anyway! This is particularly handy for when you feel like the path you’ve taken isn’t right, or you get stuck…I however think it’s a touch cheating, but I’m happy to use the feature if needed.

The camera angle changes occasionally, and sometimes you roll dice.
The camera angle changes occasionally, and sometimes you roll dice.

You can’t help but sit there and imagine yourself playing this with the physical books, and when you’re playing, or reading the books, your memory is creating the scenes as you progress. It’s how books work, they make you paint the picture. Sorcery! paints the picture twice in a sense. Once by bringing the books to life with images, but also by using the text and dialogue to allow your brain to imagine the actions and voices of whatever action is occurring.

These are just parts one and two, and there are two more parts, so in total, there are four parts…that’s a lot of parts, and that means it’s quite a long game considering how big parts one and two are! Basically, there’s enough content coming that you’re not going to be left bored when playing this.

If you don’t like reading, or paper, then this game probably isn’t one for you, but it you are a fan of fantasy games in which you decide your destiny, or if you’re just a fan of Steve Jackson’s books, then go and give this game a go. I find parts 1 & 2 both equally exciting, and both are worthy of repeated playthroughs to get those different storylines. I am certainly excited for future instalments.

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