Sorcery! 4 (Android) Review

By Drew Hurley 03.12.2016

Review for Sorcery! 4 on Android

Any RPG fan worth their salt will be well aware of the works of Steve Jackson. From his creation of the Fighting Fantasy series with Ian Livingstone, to the founding of Games Workshop, not to mention his role at Lionhead Studios with Peter Molyneux. This new interactive story is ripped straight from the pages of one of Jackson's first Fighting Fantasy series. After a look at the various other Sorcery! releases, Cubed3 now takes a look at the fourth, and final, part on Android devices.

Sorcery! is an interactive story where the original Fighting Fantasy books have been greatly expanded to allow for even more choices and developments over the course of the game. The first three stories chronicled the travel of the player character across deadly wastelands, defeating vicious enemies, and now the character has arrived at the final destination of their quest. The great Mampang Fortress is where the sinister Archmage has managed to claim the Crown of Kings, but now it must be taken from the Archmage before its power is used to create an army that will wipe out the surrounding lands.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 4 on Android

When the Sorcery! adaptation began, developer Inkle was just taking its first steps into the industry, yet now, four years on, it has become a BAFTA nominated studio and is working on wholly original stories. For those who haven't played the previous chapters of the Sorcery! series, it's certainly possible to pick up from here, as Sorcery! 4 crafts a story that establishes the premise and the back-story without need for experiencing the first three chapters of this saga. That being said, experiencing those games first-hand is the only way to get the full story and the best version of the tale, not to mention choices made in previous titles carrying over to subsequent episodes.

It all begins in the mountains around Mampang where giant eagles circle and respite is only found in the grotty caves that scatter the landscape. From there, a long trek delivers players to the deadly destination of Mampang itself. There are no more save points within Mampang, no sticking a finger at a point in the book to return to when you have reached a dead end… and plenty of dead ends there are. This may be no Dark Souls, but the death count gets up there. It's a learning experience upon each death, with a reset back to the initial entry into the city, complete with knowledge of what's to come, allows the story to move on a little further, until the next mistake.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 4 on Android

Anyone who has not read the Sorcery! line is in for a pleasant surprise; this fantastic fantasy is suitably epic and genuinely compelling at points. Not only that but, compared to the original books, developer inkle has thoroughly fleshed out the story, giving many more options and depth overall. There are numerous paths to explore and many options for how to go about taking back the crown; it really is worth multiple playthroughs here.

Other than making choices to craft the story, there is also a combat system. Unfortunately, it does not live up to the other gameplay elements, though. When starting a battle, the sprites are on opposite sides of the screen, along with a stamina bar for each. Dragging the player character across the screen further takes more stamina and deals more damage; it's a balance of understanding how much the enemy has, and what their potential move could be. Each turn, a little piece of flavour text, describes the enemy and its movements to give a hint of what to do. It's an interesting idea, but sadly one that doesn't pay off.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 4 on Android

Sometimes a little sorcery is needed instead of the sword, and here is where the pen is mightier as it's wise to keep one handy, along with some paper! There is a catalogue of spells to learn, each cast by spelling out the correct three letters, just like its old-school roots. The game expects those in control to take note and learn the spells, along with when best to use them. Pebbles can be turned into flashbangs to catch attention, mirage copies of the player can confuse enemies, mind reading, and good old fashioned fireballs are all in the mix. There's a diverse catalogue, and using them can give very different outcomes.

Sorcery! 4 captures the original designs from the books by setting the backdrop as maps from the original. Character sprites are cut-out, hand-drawn card, and the scrolling narrative descends on pages of parchment. It's an overall style filled with charm that captures the source material to a tee.

Screenshot for Sorcery! 4 on Android

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Sorcery! 4 is, of course, Steve Jackson's baby, his idea, his story, his world. This game series, though, has delivered a whole new beast - bigger and better than the original. It's evident that this has definitely been a real labour of love for developer inkle, and the dedication really shines through in this fantastical fantasy. Overall, this is a superb story and told in a great way.

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   

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