I am quite partial to the odd text-based game. The freedom of every decision you make having either a positive or negative effect on immediate outcomes creates an interesting challenge in itself. When this genre are executed well, you can find yourself taking a few minutes out and thinking of possible outcomes for each possible decision. They create a very unique experience of immersion, as it is as if the player is taking part in a live action book where the protagonist has to face the reality of the decisions you make. They give a player a new way of thinking and I would always encourage any gamer to play a text-based game quite regularly, as in my experience they have made my thought process more strategic for many other types of games I have played.
Sorcery! has been created from Steve Jackson’s four-part single player game books, also titled Sorcery! Inkle have taken on this project to make this into a digital format, which they have executed with utter brilliant. The Sorcery! series has kept true to this genre flawlessly, with Part 4 ending the Sorcery! adventure perfectly. Playing this series on the PC, I found it to be very enjoyable and gripping as I followed the story. The game begins with a decision between two warriors which the player has complete freedom to choose from and from my experience playing, was the only choice that does not impact the story. You start in a city known as Analand, which is ruled by a king. The king has lost his crown and has asked warriors to go in search of this lost treasure. It is now your turn to take on the adventure to find, and return the crown to the king’s throne. The player has to make countless choices on route, whether it be choosing the right time to eat a ration, or speaking to an overly sensitive creature which seems to have no good side.
The gameplay is very smooth and straight forward. When in conversation you, to make a decision you just click on which option suits you best. Movement is very similar too, you just click and drag your character to whichever available destination you would like them to travel in order to proceed with your story, keeping the game controls simple as to not draw away from the story. A very useful skill in the game is “pray”. The player is able to pray to a god which can cure and heal the player after an unfortunate encounter, or too far away from a resting point. This is very useful in a tight spot or after a bad bit of combat.
Combat is controlled by the player very easily, but with the simplicity it offers a very high amount of strategy. The player drags the character towards the right side of the screen to increase the amount of attack power they would like to use on the next attack. This is indicated by the bar on the left. This bar regenerates by a set amount after each attack, using more attack power than the bar regenerates each turn means the overall level is reduced. To damage the opponent the player needs to contribute a higher amount of attack power than the opponent. If the player does not wish to attack then they leave the character where they are, this causes a the player to defend which means the next receiving attack only takes minimal damage and higher restoration. The aim being to deplete the enemy of their stamina before the deplete yours.
Magic is something else that is available in the game. It is used by putting together a combination of three letters based on which spell you would like to use. The screen becomes a background of stars with multiple letters to choose from, each time a letter is chosen the remaining letters change until the spell is finished. This was part of the game I found myself not very fond of. The layout of the letters and how the spells worked didn’t really appeal to me and I found myself using magic as little as possible, personally finding it a little bit awkward.
The graphics for this game as very well presented. The map looks just like the map presented in a fantasy book on the first few pages before the story begins, the characters also follow suit to fit the same style as the background. They use no colour apart from on the destinations to show where you can go or where you have been, and when an encounter takes place you are presented by a drawing on a book page which I found only drew you in further. The interface is colourful and bold, making it clear to read on top of the background with easily viewable information, such as how much gold you have left or what stamina your character currently has.
The sound effects for this game are very clear and carefully picked out. They fit around every scenario, continuing to play while you make your decisions on the current agenda. Whether your character is at a stream or in a town filled with people running around, you find yourself becoming more and more immersed, as if you are really there with them. You are not overloaded with multiple sounds at once either, meaning that it does not become an incomprehensible mess of noise.
With the amount of different choices a player can make, from multiple responses to a conversation to which route to take next, the options are phenomenal. Even though the start and end points will always remain the same, the journey from one to the other can take many leaps and bounds, leaving many enjoyable returns for the player. This can also be done during a play through if a series of choices made turn out to be a bit aggravating or lead to a dead-end. A rewind feature is placed in the game so that at any point you can revert back to a previous decision, all the way back to the start. This I found to be a great idea but takes away the careful planning of the player’s choice, as if a player chooses a path that becomes difficult they are able to completely change it with no consequence. Making the game a little too easy and taking something away from the experience.
I really enjoyed the game as a whole, there were countless scenarios and choices so that the experience never became boring. Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Magic mechanic with the option to just rewind openly for different choices, I went down the route of only using a rewind when my character died. Playing through the story twice more after the first completion to find new routes and new items.
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