Games Gazette Logo

  

An epic interactive fantasy adventure through a weird world of magic.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! is a four-part fantasy adventure like never before. With tens of thousands of choices, the story rewrites itself around your actions. Battle weird and deadly creatures, cast powerful spells, play with honour, or lie, cheat and steal. The fate of the land of Kakhabad is in your hands!   Sorcery! was a Game of the Year finalist for TouchArcadeMashableGamezebo.

Parts 1 and 2 are now available as a single volume on Steam for PC and Mac, with Part 3 following soon. Parts 1 to 3 are available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Sorcery! Part 4: The Crown of Kings will be available later this year for the above platforms as a simultaneous release.

SORCERY is a series of adventure books from the Streve Jackson half of the Livingstone-Jackson partnership that founded Games Workshop, made Fighting Fantasy Books famous and who have continued to be involved in the UK gaming business, though more separately than in partnership nowadays. It is now Mr Livingstone who is probably the better known and more forward of the pair, having become heavily involved in computer gaming and to an extent politics - in the nicest possible way.

INKLE are now promoting SORCERY and bring Steve Jackson's name back to the forefront of UK gaming. The above screenshot/picture was taken from the INKLE website (and shows either a wicked sense of humour, a naughty employee having fun or a completely accidental cut n paste of the map - I'll leave you to decide which and to peruse the pic to understand what I am talking about).

   

The four SORCERY books are a super example of the English style game-books whereby the reader becomes the player and makes their selective actions from the options given on each page. If you haven't played a game-book then I strongly suggest you do so. You need just the book, no paper or pencil, no dice or cards, no knowledge of any other fantasy story, film or adventure. You simply read the writing on the first page, which will end in a question of some kind, and then from your understanding of the text or your own personal thoughts (or both) you select one of the options, usually there are two or three but sometimes only one (so that's technically not really an option) to choose from, and turn to the page demanded. For example you may read something like this (please note this is only representative of the idea and not an actual passage from the book).  "You pick up your guitar and walk down the dusty road until you get to a crossroad. You stand at the centre of the interchange, read the signpost, and take your time looking along each of the pathways. There is no point in going back the way you came so your choices are head East towards the forest (go to page 5). head North towards the Town (turn to page 6) or head South to where you can see a small, thin, red man with horns and a spiked tail and who is carrying a pitchfork (head off to page 8)"

So you make your decision and turn to the required page. There you will see another text paragraph possibly accompanied by an illustration. You read the text and select your next move from the options offered.

The SORCERY game follows the same mechanic except that there are more illustrations, some of which can be moved by dragging the mouse across the screen to accept the option. If a combat ensues then you will see your character and the opposition, both with Power Guages behind them - on the screen below their Stamina banner. The actions are semi-animated and are based on your selection of action.

  

On the screen, pieces of parchment become visible with the current adventure text - each following piece of paper showing either another part to read or an option of action to take. Instead of turning to a new page as per the books you now drag a line of coins over the map  between your character and the selected, chosen destination. This brings up a new set of options.

This isn't as exciting as playing a graphic adventure where you control the avatar and everything is in glorious 3D and colour, but the 2D partial animation actually works very well - you can often choose to cast a spell from your spellbook or select a combat action - and before long you are drawn into the "pages" of the game just as if you were playing a book or reading an animated film. Locations you can move to are shown on the map as named/identified flags most of the time but on occasion you may move the cursor over an interesting looking area to reveal a place name (for example) and by dragging the pathway to there you get to move - it's sort of a linear freeform, weird huh ?

I wasn't, at first, convinced that this interactive book cum computer game would be good, but time passed so quickly as I became immersed in the tale that the two available chapters - The Shamutanti Hills and Khare Cityport of Traps - just rolled along eating time without my knowledge.

Good fun and well worth taking a look at - this is a kind of new age retro gaming, and I like it!

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015