The most fun we’ve ever had with PlayStation Move was unwrapping it on launch day and giggling like schoolgirls at its resemblance to a vibrating sex aid, but the possibility that Sony would one day create a core game experience that takes real advantage of its true 1:1 motion-sensing capabilities has encouraged us to tuck it away safely in the cabinet right next to the PlayStation 3 ready for that “killer” title.
Step forward Sorcery, Sony’s brand spanking new Move compatible game that was announced even before the motion-sensing peripheral was released, yet has somehow taken two years to arrive on the scene. And, with spell-casting and potion-making right at the heart of this third-person action adventure experience, it appears to be the perfect companion to the wand-shaped peripheral.
The press release that accompanies the game tells you that Sorcery is aimed at gamers of all age, but in reality it’s most likely to appeal to young teenagers. The storyline certainly has its charms with a colourful comic-book style portrayal of a young sorcerer’s apprentice named Finn who’s tasked with mastering the arcane arts and protecting his homeland. Though the intro scene led us to believe that Sorcery’s tale would be quite predictable, there are some surprisingly enjoyable twists along the way and the fairly-tale is told with style, humour and pleasant animated cut-scenes.
In terms of gameplay, Sorcery is essentially a third-person shooter in which the Move controller acts as Finn’s wand as you flick it in the direction of any enemies you encounter to send out colourful bolts of ass-kicking magic. Largely this involves travelling from one arena to the next clearing out waves of enemies before tackling a big boss. When Move works well and you’re sending out curved strikes by bending a shot around an obstacle, or flicking it in multiple directions to intuitively send out bolts of arcane energy, it is good fun and for a brief moment in time we felt like we were Harry Potter.
However, the fun doesn’t last. First up, Sorcery uses an auto lock-on feature that takes freedom right out of your hands, but what’s more frustrating is the inconsistency of Move and how a flick to the left with the wand can result in a bolt of energy straight ahead or any direction it feels like. This lack of accuracy can be very frustrating when multiple enemies are attacking from different directions.
To make matters worse, Finn enters strafe mode automatically when an enemy appears on screen, causing the camera to focus on a particular foe that you may not want to target. When you’re surrounded by enemies and want the freedom of movement and be able to select the enemies you want to kill first, this can be incredibly frustrating.
As things progress, Finn gets access to a variety of new spells and it’s here that Sorcery shows glimpses of its potential. Combining the likes of Earth, Wind, Fire and Ice spells throws up some entertaining results. You can, for example, conjure up a block of ice and then switch spells to shatter the cube, or create a tornado and then infuse it with fire to give it extra power. Though it’s not entirely essential to use the full range of attacks to complete the game, it certainly makes things more visually entertaining and it’s good fun testing out combinations to see what happens.
To select spells, however, you have to follow one of five gestures, drawing a pattern in the air with the Move controller. The concept is good, but once again we found Move to be inconsistent as it occasionally selected the wrong spell. Giving gamers a choice by mapping spell selections to the buttons would have been a God send.
One of the most entertaining features of Sorcery turns out to be potion-making. Along the journey, you can search for alchemy ingredients to upgrade your powers, improving the likes of spells, health and mana. It makes good use of Move as you follow the gestures to grind and stir the ingredients together. In fact, it’s during these sections that Move performs at its best and casually mixing ingredients actually turns out to be a pleasant change of pace from some frantic combat sections. Not to mention it gives your wrists a well-earned rest!
Overall, Sorcery is a bit of a disappointment. There’s some fun to be had out of running around an arena flicking the controller in various directions to send out sparks of magic, but the challenge really ends up being against the shifting camera angles and inconsistency of Move to translate your movements and gestures accurately. Consequently, despite the entertaining spell combos and potion-mixing fun, Sorcery’s highlight disappointingly turns out to be the storyline rather than the gameplay itself.