Imagine a game that combines a classic fantasy story, told as a ‘create your own adventure’, loaded up with fantasy RPG gameplay, and with a unique and engaging visual style. Intrigued? You should be! Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is the video game realization of the classic early 80’s book series. Can it actually deliver on expectations set across the decades? Let’s take a look and see!
Type of app: Choose Your Own Adventure RPG game
Platform/where to buy: iPhone/iPad; available in the iTunes App Store
Developer: Inkle Studios
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! has loads of content, including:
- An epic adventure through a land of monsters and magic.
- Plot your own journey across a hand-drawn 3D world map
- Fully interactive story, with 1000s of choices
- The story is rewritten on the fly based on how you play
- Unique touch-based sword-duelling, with procedurally generated descriptions of the action
- Outwit monsters by learning their weaknesses and tells
- 48 magic spells to master, with weird and wonderful effects that change the story
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! was a series of fantasy adventure books published between 1983 and 1985. The series was very popular, and was republished again about ten years ago. In the books you needed to think and choose to get the best results, or your story path can be sharply curtailed. There are multiple endings, with some being ‘better’ than others, but no clear ‘right or wrong’ way to end things.
In the game you face many of the same challenges – I recall early in the game I am facing an enemy coming out of the high grasslands, and I decide to toss a fireball. Unlike in most fantasy games, in this case I destroy the enemy, but then the fire sweeps across the grasslands and I have to beat a hasty retreat, and in the distance I can see the town I just left scrambling to ensure they down lose their village in the conflagration.
The art style is also wonderfully engaging. You feel like you are climbing into a book and a board game all at once. The board game feel comes from having to move your character piece from place to place to advance the story. Once in a new location the story advances snippet by snippet on screen based on your choices, which come up as small scraps of paper along the bottom. The animations and drawings are all well done, and the music adds to the fun.
Gameplay is interesting – you can attack or defend when you battle foes in turn-based combat. Attacking is based on your skills and your ‘attack meter’, which increases based on your defense performance. Defending allows you to build up more powerful attacks. Each attack takes away some points from your – or your enemy’s – stamina until one of you reaches zero and is defeated. You can also choose to pursue a path of magic, using combinations of letters to cast spells, which also takes away from your stamina.
Ease of use/Overall performance: Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is essentially the interactive eBook retelling of the first book in his classic series. As a result, you can think of it as a ‘choose your own adventure’ and simply select options as you wish. Or you can view this as an RPG and choose a specific combat class and adventurer style and do everything true to your character. The choice is yours – and I love that you get these choices!
Would use again/recommend?: Definitely! I absolutely loved everything about this – it performed perfectly, was engaging and intriguing, had loads of fun, an art style I just adored, and was easy to get started and just begged you to keep playing.
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: Nothing
Source: Publisher provided review code
Here is the trailer: