I haven’t done a video games post lately, and I wanted to mention a very cool iOS game that came out recently, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Produced by inkle studios, it’s an adaptation of Steve Jackson’s 4-part Sorcery! game series from 1983-1985, but it’s being reinvented and expanded as a series of 4 apps for the iPhone and iPad devices.
Over the past few days, I’ve played through part one, which as far as I can tell is the only part available at this time, and I have to say, I was incredibly impressed by the level of detail that’s gone into the game, everything from the dreamy, mysterious opening sequence that sets you on your quest, to the world map that offers you a dizzying array of choices as to what part of the world you want to explore. You can proceed straight on the path to your destination, or take a detour on any number of side quests, with your choices laid out in the style of the choose your own adventure, Endless quest books. I cut my gaming teeth on these books as a kid, so I was really feeling the nostalgia as I played. If you’re not a fan of the choose your own adventure genre, the game may not be as much to your taste, however, I have to mention that the combat and spellcasting systems are both highly creative.
Combat requires you to slide your character along a scale, which determines the power of your attack, or you can defend. The hope is that your attack is more powerful than the monster’s, allowing you to inflict damage, but there is some strategy involved, as the stronger your attacks, the more your power is depleted. Defending will recharge your power, but it also means you inflict no damage that round.
As much as I enjoyed the combat, spellcasting was one of my favorite parts of the game. At the start of your quest, you’re given a spellbook with a surprising amount of spells, and you cast by combining three letters such as Z-A-P for lightning or H-O-T for fireball. It seems straightforward, and it is, but some of the spells require components and/or stamina points, and in the heat of combat I’d often forget which letter combinations did what, leading to some amusing (and sometimes deadly) results.
My only complaint so far with the game is the same one I have with many video games: the male hero. I would have enjoyed the option to play a female character. It’s not something that’s been a huge part of the story so far, and most of the time I can ignore it, but still, it would have been a nice option.
Overall, I’d certainly recommend Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! though. It’s a classic sword and sorcery RPG with a technological update, and at $4.99 for part one, I feel like I got my money’s worth, and I can’t wait for part two.