|Universal App:||Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)|
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GD Star RatingSorcery!,
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a four-part fantasy adventure based upon the 1980s gamebook series. Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone pretty much invented the choose-your-own-adventure RPG gamebook idea, known as Fighting Fantasy.
Set in the same universe as the Fighting Fantasy series (the world of Titan), Sorcery allows the reader to play each adventure individually and/or together as part of the complete story. As each adventure is sold as a separate app, this review will focus on part one of the story (The Shamutanti Hills). Don’t worry; we’ll review each of the remaining three adventures soon!
You start out by selecting a character (male or female) who is known only as the Analander, a noble warrior with powerful sorcery skills. Armed with a sword, some gold coins, provisions and a spell book, your hero’s inventory will grow as you progress through the story.
The evil Archmage of Mampang Fortress has robbed your land of the precious relic called the Crown of Kings. Much like the One Ring in Lord of the Rings, this powerful artefact will furnish the holder with unlimited magical powers. The Archmage lusts after this objet d’art so that he can control the badlands of Kakhabad, and then expand his brutal regime throughout the surrounding kingdoms – including your home, Analand. Galvanized by this threat to your people, you undertake the dangerous quest to recover the Crown of Kings, thereby saving the world from disaster.
In this first adventure, your hero begins his/her quest to recover the stolen Crown of Kings, traversing the Shamutanti Hills en route to the dangerous city of Kharé. As you progress through your quest, you encounter a variety of revolting and often downright ugly monsters and deadly traps. Each encounter is different; sometimes you can avoid combat, but more often than not you’ll have to battle it out. Whilst you can dash in for a satisfying bit of swordplay, you can also resort to casting magic spells. Contained within your spellbook are 48 unique and varied spells to master, which can be used to defeat foes, evade traps and more. Casting spells usually cost gold, stamina or magical items.
Combat is a simple affair, composed of each of you hacking and slashing each other until one of you loses all your stamina points and dies. Stamina points may be regained through eating provisions (which can be bought for gold), sleeping or gaining healing. The latter is achieved by praying to your spirit guide, who may cure you, or drinking potions gained during the game.
Sorcery has been created using InkleWriter, a gorgeous piece of creative software that lets you create interactive books. Beautifully designed – with a rich tapestry of medieval artwork, snippets of story stitched together and scene-specific sound effects – this rendition of the gamebook brings a feeling of realism to the story.
Controlling your hero is as simple as dragging him/her from scene to scene. Regularly, you are presented with multiple options, allowing your quest to be personalised to you. With literally thousands of decisions to be made throughout the story, you can replay the relatively short quest again and again, gaining a different story each time. A particularly nice feature is the ability to choose any previously made decision (within the current area) and rewind to that save point, thereby undoing decisions made since. So if you really screw up and end up dead, you can rewind time and take a different path.
As Sorcery is based on a physical book, I was pleased to see that the app plays in both portrait and landscape mode. When you complete the story, you can save your progress to the Inkle cloud, allowing you to pick up your story where you left off when you download and start part two. Even better, you can have multiple playthroughs, each with their own saves uploaded to the cloud, allowing you to continue each adventure. My only reservation is that the first playthrough of part one is quite short, taking about 2 hours to complete. However, you are compensated by both the quality of the story and the replay value.
8/10 Sorcery weaves a short but compelling tale of adventure, heroism and magic in a feature-rich app. Although the story has been written by Steve Jackson, it is up to you to decide how it will unfold. Fantasy readers and RPG gamers alike will be enthralled by this series. Part two of the story will be reviewed shortly.