We bought into the PlayStation Move a couple of years ago, thinking it would be a valuable addition to our gaming household. However, after a few disappointingly mediocre titles, it got relegated to the Dead and Dormant Peripherals box, where it languished, awaiting the arrival of a Move-worthy game. One such title is Sorcery, and there was a mad scramble to be first in line to try it.
With storybook cut scenes and Celtic-inspired fantasy setting, the game is reminiscent of a Disney fairy tale - albeit a dark one. The plot is well crafted, and while it follows a fairly standard formula, is engaging enough to keep you playing. Similarly, the small cast of characters are memorable enough to make an impression on its target audience (tweens to early teens).
Our hero is Finn, a teenage sorcery noob, who snitches a wand and heads off on a subterranean foray to fix up a mistake - hopefully before his master realises. Accompanied by Erline, a talking cat with an impossibly long tail, he sets off a chain of events that quickly snowballs into a quest of epic proportions. The villain of the piece is a dark queen with hordes of minions at her beck and call, and young Finn must fast track his arcane skills if he is to stop the wicked witchy poo in her tracks.
There's no swashbuckling or fisticuffs involved here; Finn's weapon of choice is magic, and the Move is its delivery system. The motion controller and Eye camera peripherals are required, but the game also supports the navigation controller (which is the set up we used for this review). Your arm movements are accurately represented on screen, and it only takes a few minutes to get the hang of spell selection and casting. Choosing a specific spell from your repertoire requires a particular movement (e.g. clockwise circle), and then it's just a case of 'point and shoot'. Once you've become accustomed to wielding the 'wand', it really does feel like an extension of yourself and it's easy to get drawn into the adventure. We did struggle at times with upwards aiming, however, and experienced the occasional calibration failure.
Some spells serve double duty, affecting the environment as well as being useful in combat. For example, the Freeze spell can slow enemies and turn them into meatsicles, but it can also be used to solidify impassable bodies of water. Spells can also be combined with other elements to great effect. For instance, you can cast the basic Arcane Bolt through a flame source to create a fiery projectile, or whip the same spell into a miniature zephyr to launch a multi-missile offensive. A little further into the game you can pull out all the stops, combining several spells for even more devastating results. It's not all combat spells, though: you can open doors and repair broken structures with a mere flick of the wrist. Magic beats manual labour, hands down!
Enemies possess decent AI; many will dodge attacks, and those using ranged attacks will utilise cover. Boss fights are challenging but not overly difficult, although you do have to think about which spells to use against them. Finn's adventure takes him through a number of picturesque locations, both in his world and the faerie realm. The environments are varied and beautiful, with a charming Celtic soundtrack adding to the ambience.
Everything is geared toward the younger player: enemies appear in waves so there's less chance of being overwhelmed; combat slows down during spell selection, which buys you a little time; dialogue between the main characters is laden with youthful banter; the game is linear, so there's no chance of getting sidetracked, and puzzles are simple to solve. There's also no XP or stats to complicate matters. All you have to worry about is keeping an eye on Finn's health and mana.
Potions can be used to permanently boost our hero's power, and there are many to discover on his travels. Their creation involves much experimentation and in keeping with the game's magical theme, must be cooked up in a cauldron, with much shaking, grinding, and stirring. Depending on your age and outlook you'll either find this a laborious process, or a great source of entertainment.
You'll probably squeeze around a dozen hours of playing time from Sorcery, which falls a bit on the short side for elder wizards, but is just about right for young apprentices. They won't blast through it in one session, either, because waving your arm around is quite tiring. We could only manage 90 minutes at a time, before having to call it a day.
Sorcery does have a few minor shortcomings, but overall it's a beautifully presented Move title, which is surprisingly fun to play. Your budding young wizards will most likely love it.