2015.02.09 update: This game made our Top 5 mobile games of 2014 list!
I believe it was a famous Admiral that once told the Alliance Fleet at the Battle of Endor that it, indeed, was a trap. While Admiral Ackbar has no affiliation inkle’s Sorcery! 2, an interactive fantasy adventure based on Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!, these were the words I uttered over and over in my mind as I explored the city of rife with magic, monsters, and yes, many traps.
Sorcery! 2 is an iOS adventure that melds the best part of interactive story telling and adventure gaming. This format works great on the iPad, and I really enjoyed my playthrough of the game that was definitely meant for a touchscreen. While I am unfamiliar with Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!, I felt right away that this was an epic series of choose your own adventure books that I missed out on. This game is based on the book Kharé: Cityport of Traps, which had looked that fact up originally, would have made my trap paranoia feel a bit more qualified.
Heck yea I am going to enter this building, but there is definitely going to be trap.
You play as an adventurer who comes upon the city of Kharé, where what seems like a normal city by the sea turns into a haven of villainy and foul magics. Your quest is to find and gain access to an ancient gate that is located on the other side of the city, and the only way you will be able to fulfill this quest is to search the town for those who know how to open it. Throughout your journey, you are faced with the “Choose Your Path” format, which makes this game, like those old books, worth a few playthroughs. Not to mention, the choices you make will affect the story that is told.
The game immediately thrusts you into its mechanics by choosing to question an elderly man near the city entrance, or pass him up to search for another way to enter the city by avoiding the guards. I immediately decided to talk to the old man, and ended up getting into a fight with him. The combat system is an interesting mechanic in which you must guess your opponents move, and either defend or attack. If you decide to attack the opponent, you must decide how much strength you will put into the attack, and hope that the opponent attacking decides to take a lesser swing. If you net a positive attack, you will damage the enemy based on the weapon you are using. This way combat feels much more strategic, and you want to lose the least amount of stamina (your HP) as possible with each encounter. The best part of your battles is that the story is writing itself out, blow by blow for each encounter, as if you were reading it in a book.
A successful attack! Image courtesy of GamesPress.
Journeying through the city was very rewarding, as each step you took led to another decision to make. There were houses to explore, people to meet, shops to browse, and inns to gather information. If you to skip over exploring a villagers home and move forward, you are given the ability to go back and peruse the house if you change your mind. However, this means that all progress made past this point is lost, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing if you find a few more gold for rations.
The map and characters are absolutely beautiful. Everything in the game looks hand drawn. Your character moves around the map like a piece from a tabletop game, and a lot of this game entices thoughts of D&D. While most everything is 2D, the map has a 3D effect if you tilt it to reveal cliffs and hills. Some encounters result in illustrations shown from the book to visually tell you the story at hand. And the story is, of course, the best part of this game.
FOF creates a force-field around the character, but will cost you 3 stamina to cast. Image courtesy of GamesPress.
I mentioned that magic was a part of this world, and your character has the ability to cast spells. Some spells require components, others require that you learn the spell first. Your character usually has the option before fighting to cast a spell, or to advance, you may need to utilize something like the lock-picking spell. When you decide to cast a spell, you are taken to a screen in which you must spell out which spell you would like to cast. Some are defensive, like a magical barrier to block arrows, or offensive, like a fire spell. The list of available spells can be found in your inventory, along with a list of all your loot, weapons, and clues about your quest.
In the end, Sorcery! 2 is an excellent game that stands on its own, though I am looking forward to playing parts 3 and 4 when they become available. The visuals and controls were made for touchscreen, and you can get a lot out of it in replayability. While I had hoped for a little more customization of my character, besides the initial choice of gender, this is a minor point. Don’t expect any real RPG elements – this is adventure gaming with a little mix of strategy. Now it’s time to go back and play part 1!