Posted on May 18, 2013 AT 08:28am
As a young boy I loved Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. From the escapades of young Indiana Jones to R.L. Stine’s Give Yourself Goosebumps series I ate up just about every one of those stories and did all I could to earn every sort of fate possible. Sometimes my fate turned out bad, whereas a few moments I found myself coming out victorious. Unbeknownst to me back then another sort of adventure book was making waves in the UK: the four-part series Sorcery! by Steve Jackson, which not only gave you the choice of paths to take on your journey but also an RPG-styled aspect of casting spells and fighting for your life & honor. Just in time for its 30th anniversary the Sorcery! series has been revived as an iOS title.
Sorcery! is being split into four games, with title number one using the first book The Shamutanti Hills as its source. In it your warrior begins his journey to the land of Khare on a quest to become the bravest of the brave. Throughout the trip you’ll come across enemy warriors, forks in the road, plagued villagers, and other beings of good or bad nature. When dealing with those who stand in your way, you can fight them off, use one of the forty-eight spells you have in your possession, or do your best to reason with them.
What makes Sorcery! interesting (the first part, at least) is how the story writes itself as you go along with a specific path. Wherever you go and whatever you choose to do, the story will write itself as whichever path you’re treading. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a pickle that you don’t want to be in, especially ones that only lead to the demise of your character. (The headhunters certainly come to mind.) For moments such as that you can rewind your progress to the specific part where you think things started going sour.
In the game you are given a specific amount of stamina, gold, and rations for your adventure. Stamina can be lost in battle and during specific spell usage, but gained with sleep and an occasional bath; gold can be spent on food, drink, hospitality and weaponry, and won in battle and performing good deeds. How you decide to use them will change your story, sometimes for the better and other times not so much.
When it comes to battling monsters and other warriors the key to victory is how you strategize your battles. You can go all out in the beginning, but risk being drained of your power and beaten due to fatigue. Studying your enemy’s tactics will lead to more wins than losses, but you might find yourself using much of your rations on the more tougher battles on your path. Of course you can always do the trial-and-error approach, where if you don’t like how the battle ends you simply rewind to that point and try to do better.
What’s also wonderful about Sorcery! is its attention to details. From its 3D map that pops up every mountain and crevice of the land to the look of the characters there is a wonderful pre-Renaissance look to the game as a whole. It makes you feel like you are viewing Chaucer-era stories with vivid textures and imagery. It also contains a pretty kick-ass orchestral soundtrack, which is quite something for a game you are simply reading for the most part.
Your first play-through of Sorcery! will take roughly a couple hours to complete, which includes backtracking and all the time you spend on reading. Once you complete the game you will be given a special code to use to transfer your data to the next volume in the game series (which will be released later in the year). If you are curious about the different paths to take you have many, many opportunities to see what other fates you can have your warrior be sealed in.
- Tons of paths to go through, stories to read
- Detailed spell system
- Beautiful imagery, soundtrack
- Not for the illiterate
- Having to wait for the next part of the game
Fans of choose-your-own-adventure tales will have many reasons to love the first Sorcery! game. With many different ways your story can go you’ll find yourself trying to find every fate that your character can go through. There probably hasn’t been this much fun in video game reading since probably the days of text adventures.
FINAL GRADE: 8.2 (out of ten)
iOS Review copy provided by Emily Morganti and inkle
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