Sorcery! 3 (Android) Review

By Joshua Callum Jeffery 22.04.2015 1

Review for Sorcery! 3 on Android

Following successes with interactive mobile versions of the classic Steve Jackson-penned Fighting Fantasy adventure books, Sorcery! and Sorcery! 2 between 2013 and 2014, developer inkle studios is finally ready to unleash the third book on Android and iOS in mobile form. Known for their faithful mobile incarnations, does Sorcery! 3 live up to expectations?

Phone gaming can be a peculiar breed. Unlike dedicated game systems, different phone models can have trouble running games that run perfectly on their close siblings merely due to a few small hardware differences. There are many instances of popular mobile titles that, when played on a smaller phone as opposed to a more powerful machine like a tablet, run slowly, lagging with small visual errors, or heating up the device to uncomfortable temperatures, especially in Android versions where there are so many variations to make compatibility for.

Sorcery! 3 does not have this problem. In a wonderful surprise, the Android version runs smoothly from point one where other games have suffered performance stutters. It's immediately obvious that love and care has been put into presenting a smooth experience for as many devices as possible, which bodes well for a release that's all about faithfully translating an old beloved adventure book into interactive mobile form.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 3 on Android

Following the story of the first two Sorcery! outings, the player is thrust immediately into a quest after choosing a male or female hero, whether or not they have played Sorcery! 2. While the game does offer this option, players who start with this newest entry may still be confused about being dropped into the middle of a quest, and much of the lore potentially being difficult to pick up at first. Anyone that played it before should know that entering a code from the start allows stats to be carried across to help pick up from the final stages of the previous title.

The core plot of Sorcery! 3 follows the protagonist on a quest to stop seven elemental serpents from warning the evil Archmage of the lead's intention to recover The Crown of Kings. While the primary objective is to stop and defeat the serpents dotted across the wilderness of the Baklands, the bulk of this tale comes from the side stories and curiosities the main character will come across on the journey.

Those who are familiar with adventure books, or the "choose-your-adventure" genre, should have a good idea of what to expect. Read like a novel that is completely influenced by player decisions, there are hundreds of ways to work through it. Decide what path to take first or which to totally ignore. Decide what item to take, whether or not to fight an enemy, to cast or not cast a spell on a curious object, or simply move on and ignore it. Perhaps the best part of it all is that there's a 'Rewind' option, which means the feeling of missing something important in that last choice is an easy worry to relieve.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 3 on Android

It's all completely up to those in control and after playing the adventure book in this convenient mobile form, where pages automatically turn and battles automatically unfold, it may even be hard to go back. The writing is detailed and immersive, and while some lore may go over the player's head, it won't be too long until something catches interest and ropes people in. One possible route, for example, has the protagonist casting a mind control spell on a huge insect and inadvertently getting stuck in the middle of the insect's nest. Choosing not to fight allowed a meeting with the queen insect to uncover some answers, but choosing even one alternative decision along that detour could have resulted in a drastically different outcome. It's this sort of adaptability that is truly impressively put together, even to those not familiar with this style, and the flow of this mobile version is excellently convenient and smooth.

Speaking of battles, there is also a simple system for encounters and other mini-games, besides the choice-based quest novel. Battles are focused on the power of the lead's attack versus that of the enemy's. If the player's attack is stronger, that damage will be done and the enemy's will be held back... and vice versa. This is why it's also important to know when to defend; if an enemy is about to lunge a powerful strike that the player can't overcome, it's the perfect time to defend and waste the enemy's stamina. It's all quite simple and accessible, while also being quite unique.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 3 on Android

In and outside of battles there's also often an opportunity to cast a magic spell. Magic is made up of bringing together three letters and using either some stamina or an item, and there are many spells to choose from. However, the magic system is also much more tedious than every other aspect as finding all the spells and what they do means physically flicking a finger through a little spell menu designed like a book. While in the real adventure book this may have been immersive and satisfying, like a real spell book, in this digital version the inconvenience of having to flick through an entire digital book to find spell instructions rather than picking and choosing from a menu is an inconvenience that really clashes with the rest of the converted book's convenient nature. This is generally a big shame that breaks up the flow of the game as the way they can influence the quest's choices and mysteries can be anywhere from pleasantly surprising to downright fascinating.

Rounding off the experience, there are various mini-games that can take place with other characters encountered, often involving gambling or merely a harmless game of dice. Some of these are confusing, yet players who are all in for the experience may find themselves thoroughly immersed in the world of Sorcery! 3 even moreso by these little moments of carefree reprieve in the midst of a tough quest through the wilderness. What's more, these can sometimes give prizes of money or rations, which, depending on how progression is made, can be extremely valuable. In an adventure with so many choices to be made, finding the balance between slow and careful exploration, and quick and alert questioning is vital, because running out of food and health on the way across the wilderness is not the ideal!

Screenshot for Sorcery! 3 on Android

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A game this well made and presented can only be described as a labour of love, and although the setting or game style may not be as well-loved with modern audiences as it is for those who grew up fond of adventure books - especially the Fighting Fantasy line - the smooth and convenient experience makes it all the more easy for people new to adventure books to dip in. Unfortunately, the inconvenient magic system feels like it clashes with the convenience of everything else, but that doesn't stop Sorcery! 3 from being a delightful experience overall. To make matters better? Once the player's all done and dusted with this tale, a handy little link in the options menu presents the choice to subscribe for news on the inevitable Sorcery! 4.

Also known as

Steven Jackson's Sorcery! 3

Developer

inkle

Publisher

inkle

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

Comments

From what I've played of this and the first release, I love the way the original books have been brought to life by inkle. Very clever indeed, and the rewind option is perfect because hey, honestly, who DIDN'T flick between pages at times to see which option for progression was best? Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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