by Jordan Hazelwood
They brought a cave troll.
Mr. Zack Patterson recently invited most of the Castwave Studios troupe, including myself, to join in on an episode of his video game podcast Severed Dongle, particularly for his discussion on motion controls. As it turned out, the assembly’s opinions on the subject were as myriad as they were furious and we ran the clock pretty long, so I was not able to find an opening to talk about the game I had rented for just that occasion. It’s no big deal, I can just conjure up my review now. This is Sorcery, the 2012 wand-em-up exclusive for the Playstation Move.
Eye of Newt and Saw of Mitres, Sweat of Troll and Cramp of Writers
As for the gameplay, to tell the truth, the first third or so of
the game was an absolute slog. The controls require the PS3-chuk for movement, and the Move itself served as my magic wand, meaning I fired magic missiles by flicking the Move at my targets, meaning I initially missed nine out of every ten shots because magic wands do not come equipped with iron sights. I also strongly disliked the system of exposition for this far-out fantasy universe, consisting of Finn acting like a completely hapless cretin, obliging Erline to explain everything more complicated than breathing to him. I suddenly miss the days when video game characters would hold up signs saying “Read the Manual for Details”. I also suddenly miss the days when video games had manuals. Next came the part of the game that took my well-worn gamer maxim of “When the game tells you where to go, go everywhere else first” and kneed it hard in the groin when I came to a Y-intersection and Will-o-Wisps appeared out of nowhere and beckoned me down the right path. Naturally I went left, upon which a door slammed shut behind me barring my return and Erline perked up, “Protip: Wisps point you in the direction of vitally important magic items”. Hey, Erline! Protip: Screw You! And then there’s the Professor Snape-approved portion of the game where I had to concoct potions to give Finn permanent character buffs. This involved laboriously adding every ingredient one by one to a cauldron through motion gestures (and I swear, potions that call for sprinkling grave dust made me twist my wrist back and forth for what felt like two minutes at a time), then swirling the Move upside down to stir the potion, then shaking the mixture inside the bottle despite the fact that I just stirred it (Bartender, a Potion of Heroic Might, shaken and stirred), and then I could throw the Move back towards my face to simulate drinking it. Any other video game would handle everything I just described with one or two button presses. Is fostering the illusion of performing every single tactile sensation involved in brewing physics-defying cocktails really important enough to risk carpal tunnel syndrome?
I have a flame-nado. Your argument is invalid.
But I kept plugging away and, to tell more of the truth, I’m really glad I did. Once the painfully obvious exposition was finally over, I noticed that Finn and Erline’s voice actors had very genuine chemistry, and their characters underwent decent arcs over the course of the story. I also felt that the exploration element was strong, especially for such a linear game. Yes, the wisps do point the way to some of the magic goodies, but others are pretty deviously hidden and I legitimately missed a few of them on my first playthrough. Lastly, combat was a grim, taxing and unrelenting waggle-fest in the early game when I only knew the standard issue magic missile, but it really opened up later after I learned several more spells, most of which could combine with each other in very cool ways. There was a point about two thirds through the game when I was jumped by a horde of spiders and surly sylphs, whereupon I held the Move aloft above my head and drew it down and across to summon a whirlwind that Hoovered up the spiders, then I spun the Move clockwise and thrust it forward to set said whirlwind and spiders on fire, then I flicked forward rapidly, sending a flurry of missiles through the flaming whirlwind which sprayed magical pyrotechnic death on all of the straggling sylphs. Then I thought to myself, “Wait, has this game officially started kicking ass?” Shortly thereafter, I discovered the lightning nexus, allowing me with two lateral motions to summon a raging electrical tempest out from beneath the ground. Then I thought to myself, “Yes. Yes it has”.
All and all, I enjoyed my time playing Sorcery, even though I completely finished it and snagged the platinum trophy within a week. I would definitely recommend it for a rental, if you are like me and are insanely lucky enough to live within driving distance of a place that still rents PS3 games. Sorcery definitely convinced me that the Playstation Move is the ideal controller for magic wand simulators. In one or two years, I’ll be sure to write that on its tombstone.
P.S. Do you guys remember how Resident Evil 4 had that creepy Australian merchant guy who kept showing up out of thin air to buy and sell your swag? Sorcery has a similar character, except he’s a Scottish dwarf played by Steve Blum. Sorcery: One, RE4: Zero.