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Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! [iOS] Review

Posted on May 2, 2013 AT 10:11am

With so many games saturating Apple’s App Store, it can sometimes be hard to find a game that isn’t an unlicensed clone of something that’s already popular. Finding something unique and original can seem like an uphill battle that has no end in sight. This brings us to the iOS adaptation of Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! gamebook from inkle studios, is it original enough to invest your time and money into?

Hold up a second, before we go any further, what’s a gamebook? A gamebook is an interactive story where the player chooses their own adventure as they proceed through the game. In most cases, these types of games involve standing at a fork in the road and seeing which path suits your preference. Take a left through the trees or take a right and go over the rickety bridge. While there is certainly a lot of that in this text based adventure, Sorcery! has a charm all its own that separates it from other titles in the genre.

In addition to giving you choices that dictate where you go physically, Sorcery! also lets you decide the kind of person that you will become as your epic adventure unfolds. You start out as a blank slate. You don’t know much about your nameless character and that’s because he hasn’t lived the life that’s going to define him yet! You know he is taking an adventure across Shamutanti Hills in hopes of recovering the Crown of Kings. You learn early on in this fantasy tale that the carefully crafted world is yours to explore as thoroughly, or as quickly, as you’d like. The first thing to be noticed when looking at the beautifully designed 3D map is that you have a long road ahead of you! Choose to strike up a conversation with townspeople or barge into their city center demanding a place to stay for the night. Help an old man out of a tree (don’t concern yourself with why he’s up there in the first place) or bully a young man in a tavern. All of these choices will dictate the options you have to choose from in the future as Sorcery! saves every move you’ve made from the beginning of the game.

Another thing that sets Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! apart from other gamebooks is that it also has a combat system and spell casting system! While most titles in the genre stick to only being interactive via text, Sorcery! allows players to get a little more hands on. Much like everything else in Sorcery!,the narration text you read during fight sequences will change depending on how hard you attack or defend. You also have spirit guides, animals assigned to your character, that reflect the path you’ve chosen thus far. Praying to your spirit guides can do nothing but assist you on your quest for The Crown. The audio for the game is mostly ambient sounds that manage to immerse the player further into the story without distracting from it. The only negative thing that I encountered was when my spirit guide was a crow. He kept crowing at me until I had different choices and my spirit guide was changed. In the grand scheme, it was a very minor annoyance.

A smaller part of the game, that’s easy to miss, is that you can tweet your progress, showing friends on your timeline where you are in the story. This feature is an excellent way to track your personal progress over the course of your game. After picking a flower I was prompted to send out a tweet saying as such. Being that it was a sweet little message that made me smile, I sent it out to my followers. Within minutes I was prompted yet again and sent out another tweet… saying that I had been eaten by cannibals! But have no fear, in the event that you zigged when you should have zagged, you can rewind to any part of the story and branch off in a totally different direction.

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is available now in the App Store for $4.99 and is playable on all iOS devices.

SUMMARY: Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is likely to become a genre defining game, taking the concept of gamebooks to a level that few would have thought possible. While the game is incredibly immersive, it’s important to understand that at heart, it’s a storybook. You are going to be doing a lot of reading and skimming passages can easily result in your demise. I recommend Sorcery! to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels and is looking to play something with a high replay value. In short – inkle studios has made Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! the game you didn’t know you’ve been waiting for.

The Good: High replay value, well written and engaging story, thousands of options that can lead to hundreds of outcomes, immersive audio, the ability to share progress on Twitter.

The Bad: There’s nothing legitimately bad about the game. The only bad thing I encountered was when I was out for a walk picking flowers one minute and then being nommed on by cannibals the next!

The Ugly: The audio for the crow spirit guide can be dreadful after the first couple of times you hear it.

Grade: A+

About the Author: Laura has many varied interests outside of video gaming. Other hobbies and areas of obsession include: hiding her Boston accent, singing, Metallica, The Walking Dead, Iron Man, Green Day, The Boondock Saints, tattoos, Pomeranians, and the paranormal. Follow Laura on Twitter: @DN_VampPMS

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