Sorcery! 2 (Android) Review

By Kyle Henderson 10.06.2014

Review for Sorcery! 2  on Android

Sorcery! 2 - also known as Kharé - Cityport of Traps - continues directly on from the first chapter, although offering a fairly different experience inside the same fantasy RPG gamebook framework. Rather than journeying across an expanse of countryside, the hero must make their way through a large, bustling city full of thieves, thugs and, yes, traps. More reading, choice-making and fighting awaits.

Everything that made the first Sorcery! chapter so great remains mostly intact here. The writing is still very strong, the main story and variety of smaller side-stories is probably slightly stronger. There's more variety to the fights, and a host of new characters and creatures to encounter. It's a longer quest, too - deceptively so, considering the map looks a lot smaller on first impression.

The best addition, though, is 'Swindlestones', a game that Red Dead Redemption fans might recognise as 'Liar's Dice'. It's a game of bluffing, logic and luck that is just as enjoyable as it was in the Rockstar western. The player and the opponent each roll a hand of four-sided dice; usually four rocks apiece, although longer and shorter games can be found. Turns are taken making bids on the number and values of the dice in play and each bid must be higher than the last. For example: one player opens bidding with an announcement that there is at least one three in play, the second player must now bid at least one four, or move up to a bid of two ones, two twos, etc. Once someone thinks there's been a lie told, they can call it. If they're right, the other player was lying about their bid, and they win the hand, but if the other player wasn't lying, they'll lose it. The losing player discards one of their four dice and the game continues until someone has discarded their whole hand.

It's a very addictive game and the opportunity to bet gold pieces on games only makes it more difficult to get away from. The possibility to glean gossip and information characters while playing is a particularly nice touch. Conversation is made during play, different bids have different conversation options attached, and while it's obviously more sensible to make bid decisions based on the state of play, it can become tempting to go for a wild bid just to choose a good line. It's very easy to forget that this is an adaptation of a gamebook, which is, of course, the point.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 2  on Android

While Swindlestones is the best new addition, there are other small tweaks. Players now collect clues in their inventory, a function that will ultimately become very useful as this second instalment culminates. Important pieces of information are filed away and eventually, in order to exit the city of Kharé by its north gate (the main goal of this chapter), four lines of a secret spell must be recited in the correct order. Said spell lines and hints to their locations will be collected in the notes. This is invaluable as, being highly unlikely to be collected on just one trip through the city, they'll require a bit of hunting down.

This is probably the biggest flaw in Sorcery! 2 - it's too easy to reach what seems like the end of the chapter, only to be told that the spell lines must all be collected or dire consequences will be faced that could stretch into future chapters, if the character is carried over. This means a colossal amount of backtracking, a barrier thrown right in the player's path just as it seems like the journey is finished. There's some comfort in the fact that the game offers an easy way to rewind to just before key parts of the chapter - these rewind points themselves acting as hints to where the spell lines can be found - but it still means re-reading loads of text and moving back through places previously thought left for good.

It's understandable that a design choice like this was made for a game released in 1983. Steve Jackson was ahead of his time really, trying to offer an open-world quest, the likes of which have become standard among modern RPGs. While it was undoubtedly thrilling for players back then, unfortunately it's just too dated now. Modern gamers are accustomed to being able to roam around a city without having to replay the same situations just to get somewhere slightly different; it's a real momentum-killer. It's a shame that Inkle couldn't find a way to make this more accessible to modern players, but it's also commendable that they aren't afraid to directly adapt Kharé, warts and all.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 2  on Android

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Despite one unfortunately overwhelming flaw in all that backtracking, fans of the first Sorcery! adventure will certainly not be disappointed by this follow-up. Bigger in every way, there's more combat and decisions, and a more expansive overall quest to get stuck into, even if its structure is not for the faint-hearted. This is a must-play for all fantasy fans, newcomers to the series and veterans alike. Bring on chapter three.

Developer

inkle

Publisher

inkle

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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