The only real problem with Sony’s latest attempt to win hearts and minds with PlayStation Move isn’t what it is, but what it could have been. It’s a solid action game with good – occasionally wonderful – graphics, some nice gameplay mechanics and signs of imagination.
Most importantly, it’s a great example of how motion controls can, not just enhance a game, but become the beating heart of it. Sorcery’s Move controls are exemplary; clever, accurate and flexible, never frustrating, and making perfect sense in the context of the story.
Gears of Magic
Sorcery is a fantasy action-adventure, heavy on faerie folklore and with a touch of the Harry Potters, and perfectly targeted at a younger audience of gamers. It’s the tale of a sorceror’s apprentice and an inadvertent reawakening of an old enemy, which puts our hero on a quest to take a disguised princess to her elf king father before her evil-corrupted mum can track her down. It’s a journey that takes you through all the staples – sprawling tombs, enchanted forests, mystic ruins – with some beautifully rendered scenery that wouldn’t shame a big-budget RPG. Some locations might even be called majestic, and it’s a world that begs to be explored. Sorcery looks a little like a Sony take on Zelda, with a slightly less cartoon feel, but still that luminous sense of mystery and magic around every corner.
The core gameplay, however, owes more to Gears of Wars than Ocarina of Time. Beneath its fantasy trappings, Sorcery is primarily a shooter, where you move along a fairly linear path from one encounter to another, tackling the game’s variants on zombies, skeletons, ghosts, goblins, trolls and assassins. There’s no real cover mechanic – just a shield spell that kicks in with a click of the L2 button – and the emphasis is on avoiding or repelling incoming attacks, taking out enemies with ranged weapons at long range and blasting incoming melee troops before they get a chance to hit you. With your right hand busy with the Move controller there’s no room for a right-stick aim or any camera control, but the game has a functional auto-lock system and an automatic camera that, 95% of the time, shows you what you need to see.
The Wand Chooses The Wizard
The key ingredient is, of course, the Move controller. Any handheld device with a glowing orb on the end practically begs to be used as a magic wand, and that’s exactly how the Move is employed here. Spells are aimed and fired with quick, precise flicks in true Harry Potter-style, or stylishly curved around obstacles using fast sideways sweeps. You can flick between spells by holding the Move button and making certain circular or sweeping gestures, and there are also special attacks that can be called in with combos of gestures and the Move’s trigger button.