Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Sorcery Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3

Aggravating combat overwhelms the elements that could have made Sorcery enjoyable.

When you're a spellcaster in training, every monster in the realm wants a chance to knock you down a peg. But as you learn in Sorcery, a lone goblin is no match for a mighty sorcerer, even one who's still a boy. So hundreds of ill-tempered meanies flood the screen as they attempt to overwhelm you with sheer numbers. And this is where Sorcery stumbles. Tactics have little place in these frustrating encounters because you're too busy frantically flinging spells in order to simply survive. Delightful visual design and in-depth alchemy can't overcome the tedium of sinking hours into waggling at an army of evil beings. Poorly balanced fighting scenarios transform Sorcery from an enchanting adventure into a grueling ordeal.

An apprentice without a master has to grow up in a hurry. You play as Finn, an eager boy who has the ability to shoot spells from his handy wand. You team up with a talking cat named Erline in search of your master, who has mysteriously disappeared. Although the story does little to draw you into this world, the whimsical artistic design does a great job of establishing a happy-go-lucky mood. Idyllic forests give way to treacherous underground caverns as you uncover the secret behind your mentor's fate, and though the locales present typical fairy-tale landscapes, there's a feeling of merriment that stays with you no matter how dark the story becomes.

Things start out nicely enough. Using the Move to control your wand and the Navigation Controller to run around, you seamlessly transform sheep to rats with the flick of your wrist. Spells travel in the direction you snap your wand. Although the precision you would get from a point-and-click interface is absent, it's easy enough to aim high or low, left or right, or even send a curving shot flying toward an ice troll's head.

It's when you enter into fights that things take a turn for the worse. Using strategy is mighty difficult when dozens of nasty buggers are rushing toward you. Aggressive goblins and hounding spiders threaten to smother you in a sea of grotesqueries, and you need to shake your arm as quickly as possible to keep these creatures at bay. You might think that inane waggling is only an option, but sadly that's not the case; it's a necessity. Some enemies have regenerating health, so if you hit them once without following up immediately with another strike, they go back to full strength. This baffling design decision, coupled with the unending mass of monsters constantly pursuing you, leads to tiring encounters that go on long after the entertainment has subsided.

Why does a troll have so many spiders?

A poor camera adds further obstacles to your enjoyment. Tapping a button centers the view behind Finn, but automatic shifts hinder your ability to see your enemies. Wrestling the camera to get a good look at the action accentuates the already problematic battles. Finishing off a foe before it regenerates health is tricky enough without the beast leaving your line of sight. Auto-targeting should alleviate this issue, but it only makes the problem worse. The game isn't smart enough to know which enemy you want to attack, so your spell automatically tracks tiny spiders swarming around a giant troll's feet instead of letting you freeze the huge beast's head, even when you're aiming as high as possible.

Thankfully, the motion controls at least do what they should most of the time. There are some issues, such as clunky switching between spells, but they're not a big hindrance. What is a problem are the traditional controls. There are separate buttons for using a shield and diving out of the way, but there are times when you tap them during key moments only to have nothing happen onscreen. Other times, you get caught in an inescapable string of knockback attacks in which none of your actions can free you from the misery. Most baffling of all is how healing is implemented. You're not blessed with regenerating health like your enemies. Instead, you have to quaff potions. It's a fine idea, but it doesn't work in practice. Shaking the bottle and then bringing it to your lips while hounding enemies surround you is impractical, and having your drinking animation interrupted whenever you're touched is downright maddening.

All of these problems come to a head in tedious boss encounters. These ordeals stretch on for dozens of minutes, and it takes all of your concentration to come out on top. Despite the peaceful aesthetics, this is a difficult, punishing game that doesn't give you an inch. When a troll tosses a boulder, you'd think that diving out of the way would keep you safe. But that happens only a fraction of the time. Poor collision detection ensures you take damage even when you jumped clear well before contact, and it's incredibly easy to be caught on the environment as you run backward to avoid taking further hits. And if you should die during one of these boss battles, you have to start over at the very beginning of the fight.

Lake Erie has nothing on this flaming pond.

Despite the myriad issues, Sorcery does have some interesting combat elements. As you become a stronger wizard, you learn new spells, and these add layers of complexity to combat. Conjure an electrical cloud to zap your enemies into oblivion, or send a ripple of earth their way with a shimmering ground strike. Mixing spells even gives you opportunities to dispose of your foes creatively. A twister can gobble up a fairy or two in a pinch, but those prancing fools will scream bloody murder if you set that storm on fire. Or freeze a spider in place and shatter it into a million pieces with a concussive blast. These clever combat mechanics add a dose of excitement to the normally monotonous duels.

Most of Sorcery is composed of tedious combat encounters, but there are side activities that provide some enjoyment. Light puzzle solving introduces new ways to use your powers, and it's certainly empowering to fix a broken bridge or toss a giant pillar aside like a sack of grain. Alchemy is an optional though surprisingly in-depth activity. By combining ingredients you find hidden throughout the world, you can concoct all sorts of potions. Some provide a permanent increase to your health or magical might, while others have a temporary negative effect. Mixing and matching to find all the combinations is a nice distraction from the aggravating combat. In some sections, you transform into a rat to slink through tight passages. Although these are mildly fun, the places you change into a bird are noninteractive cutscenes which is a disappointment.

Sorcery's biggest flaw is that it focuses on the tiresome combat. Considering how strong the other elements are, it's disappointing that you spend the vast majority of the game frantically waggling just to stay alive. It's simply not fun to have your view blocked, your attacks interrupted, and your wrist ache as you try to squash an angry crowd of enemies. Sorcery fumbles its impressive potential by favoring mindless combat over the other enjoyable activities a boy wizard can take part in.

The Good
Pleasant visual design
Flexible alchemy
The Bad
Horribly balanced combat encounters
Troublesome camera
Tedious boss fights
4.5
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Discussion

55 comments
Chickan_117
Chickan_117

Did you play a retail copy of the game or a reviewers copy? I reviewed the retail one and came across almost none of the problems you described. I'd be interested to hear.

 

The way time slowed when changing spells was good and the button above the shield button (forget what it is) changed targets... although that big tree guy boss with the spiders and the ice spell is still a pain.

 

Always interesting reading alternate opinions and I like that you mentioned the graphcis and environments (which I completely neglected :) )

XanderZane
XanderZane

Another horrible review from the Gamespot team. Do we believe Tom or all the other reviewers on Metacritic who game the game a more valid and complete score? If you're frustrated by playing a game, maybe you should stop playing games and get another job.

Earthen80
Earthen80

I'm thinking this is one of those games with a lot of potential, but very poor execution. Maybe a 6.5 would have been good since it tried something a bit different, 4.5 seems slightly harsh for this type of game.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

I was almost shocked to see this get a 4.5 when over at Gameinformer they gave it a 9. Not saying any of the reviewer's opinions are bad, I'm only kind of amazed by the incredibly mixed reaction this game has gotten. Then again, there's always Deadly Premonition, which I believe is the record holder for the most mixed game ever, receiving reviews from between 2 (IGN) and 10. 

Orellano
Orellano

Tom McShea gave the game 4.5? Now I'm sure that this game is great.

It's funny to know that you think that this is a hard game, even though pretty much everyone else said that the game is easy and great for kids.

My friend, you are a weak and pathetic man. I petty you. 

I just want you to know that no one cares about you or your reviews, and I know that this makes you blood boil and that makes you even more pathetic.

You are a disgrace to word "gamer"

autogolazzo
autogolazzo

This guy is a real piece of work. Sorcery is not the greatest game in the world, but everyone—including critics and gamers—have given it a UNUSUALLY consistent 7 across the board. I mean, honestly I have rarely seen anything reviewed so consistently (movies, albums, games, books, etc)

 

What I think is hilarious is that this tool bucks what every reviewer has said in that the game is too easy and too short ("your 10 year old will love it"), and actually claims that it is unfairly difficult.

 

Good God. Grow a pair!

 

(Sorry about the wrist ache, my little game reviewing soldier)

 

 

SecularSage
SecularSage

How could I tell, just by looking at the rating, that Tom McShea was the author of this review?

 

Sorry, Tom, but every review of yours I've read recently seems like you're poorly matched with the game and don't "get" the concept well enough to overlook the things you don't like. You tend to score things really low when you don't personally like them, and you rarely look for the redeeming qualities of titles that are outside your expectations.

 

Sorcery isn't the killer app Sony needs, but it's far from a bad game. While I completely respect reviewers' right to have opinions that differ from the average and I don't believe reviewers should be publishers' PR machines, I feel like you take your criticism beyond a reasonable level for games that aren't trying to be AAA-selling, super-polished releases. Unfortunately, this sort of scoring hurts the chances of more of these sorts of games to get made properly down the road. (I don't think publishers should let review scores affect their decision-making, but that's the game they're playing these days.)As I've said before, I think Carolyn Petit, who also tends to review the second-tier games for GameSpot, does a much better job of providing a sensible review where the good and the bad of an unusual title are considered fairly. 

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

Hmmm his rating is much lower by far than other sites ratings for the game so maybe he just sucked at it and is raging ?

Venom_Raptor
Venom_Raptor

The camera doesn't look too good, but the combat looks entertaining

Granpire
Granpire

I've heard nothing but good about this game. It seems to be a game perfectly  suited to the PS Move, and I've heard the combat is lighthearted and forgiving about targeting.

 

I'm all for Tom's harsh review scores, and I think that games criticism in general needs to be less forgiving of fatal flaws, but I think in this case, I almost have to wonder if he played the same game as everyone else. 4.5 is very, very low for such generally well-received game that seems fun and different from other motion games. 

tidusjeff
tidusjeff

So basically it's another game that matches current kinect library. Xbots are going to flame me, but at the end of the day ps move and kinect fanboys overreact to poor quality games. Maybe in a year or two developers will get their act together, till then I'll view kinect and ps move as devices that serve the gamer who hasn't played good games.

Iridescent406
Iridescent406

Another day, another whine-fest from people who only care about numbers.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

"Pleasant visual design"

Generic can't be pleasant, Tom. And it screams generic. 

Angry3DSNerd
Angry3DSNerd

Oh great, another review... that isnt CALL OF DUTY...

DethSkematik
DethSkematik

Holy hell, how did I know that just by looking at a PS3 game, and seeing a low score, I already knew by default that it must've been reviewed by McShea :P. I already know by reading some of the comments that it's not that bad, but I guess I'll never know...I mean, I had no intention of buying this game. I merely came here to troll :P.

RBlocher
RBlocher

Honestly after this review and IGN's (which gave it a 7.5) and a reading what some other reviews have to say about the game, it doesn't seem THAT bad, a decent game that's a bit short, and if you don't like motion type controls its not going to win you over, but if you already have a Move, and like this sort of game, it doesn't seem like it would be a bad one to have.

MafiaMusic
MafiaMusic

sony and those great first party games, if it isn't 7.5 jank like starhawk, the yearly 7.0 ratchet game or this 4.5 disaster, its some B rate gears clone(uncharted) and halo clone (killzone) getting pity scores(but still lower than their x360 counterparts)

 

Halo Reach: 9.5

Killzone 3: 8.5

 

Gears 3: 9.5

UFarted 3: 9.0

 

Sony balogna the flop maker

Vherion
Vherion

I remember when this was unveiled for the first time back at E3.. two or three years ago? The move was just coming out and I was actually somewhat interested in this, despite my general dislike for motion controlled gaming. Pretty disappointing to see such a bad review after all this time.

RankJunkie
RankJunkie

 @XanderZane Well sites like Metacritic give you a more objective score.  A single review is just an opinion.  Both of them have their place.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

 @Leboyo56 It's a recurrent theme on Gamespot lately, they just absolutely can't stand any motion control-based game anymore. Look at Diabolical Pitch, which isn't perfect but it's not worth a 3 by any stretch of the imagination. Gunstringer is the exception that proves the rule, as all the press couldn't help but praise it due to Twisted Pixels' direct friendship with lots of game journos (hello Giant Bomb!), even if it is the worst motion control-based game to be released since the Wii launch first shovelware batch.

 

At this rate if any motion control-based game gets above 5 in here for me it's worth investigating.

Chickan_117
Chickan_117

 @autogolazzo Grow a pair and change his review to match what metacritic says? TBH I'd prefer he write his honest opinions on the game. That to me indicates that he has already procured himself a pair.

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

 @SecularSage Haha i had the same thing when i saw GS score for this game. I just visited two other game sites and they gave it around the 7 or 8. I come here, i see the score and the first thing i thought "Wanna bet its Tom who reviewed it".

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

 @DeViLzzz I'm fairly sure the setup for motion control-based games in their offices is very problematic. It's been so consistent a trend that's worrisome. They always complain about the controls - and the exception is the very one that is so simplistic (Wii launch third-party shovelware level, only in 2011 and for the Kinect) that would work even in a poorly lit room with a 5-year old juggling his hands/the controller: Gunstringer.

Chickan_117
Chickan_117

 @Venom_Raptor The camera control wasn't very good but it didn't need to be. The chase cam worked well for the linear paths leading to each area and it focused on enemies when in combat with a "change focus" button to switch. Worked really well IMO... not that you asked for MO :)

kuraimen
kuraimen

 @Granpire He's just a Microsoft fanboy. If he's so harsh how come he gave Gunstringer a casual kiddy Kinect game an 8.5?

o016945
o016945

 @tidusjeff So "until then" you'll continue to view things through idiocy and ignorance?

woodyfr
woodyfr

 @Iridescent406 Everything thats virtual is made with 0 and 1 ! Numbers control the world !!!!

Nu2u
Nu2u

 @Ripper_TV

 The game IS nice to look at, especially as it progresses through the Faerie Forest. Only game it reminds me of visually is Trine 2. How the hell does that make it Generic? Dude, even if all you play is COD, BF, Halo, Gears, GodofWar, Uncharted, LBP, Resistance, MassEffect, Dead Space, Ass Creed...this game looks NOTHING like ANY of them. 

 

Review is waaaaay too harsh. All the difficulty complaints can be rectified by just lowering the difficulty Tom. You took sucking too personal, which makes it a bad review. I already platinumed it on easy and *gasp* had fun. 

tigertaru
tigertaru

 @MafiaMusic Wow fanboy, you're sucking that MS beefrod Uber hard.  Take a break for five mins. and try being a real gamer.   

Gliave
Gliave

 @MafiaMusic 

 

Did this dumb-truck actually compare Gear to Uncharted...?

 

Boy, wot a lil Xbox tramp. Someone that actually tops Mcshea's clueless-ness.

 

Man, suck on a misshapen Xbox controller for all we care, just keep it to urself...

xolivierx
xolivierx

 @MafiaMusic

 I do agree this game looks disastrous, but comparing Uncharted to Gears of War? Gears of war is a mindless shooter with NO story, boring repetitive gameplay, and awesome graphics, while Uncharted is actually pretty neat. As for the clone part, I could argue Gears of War is a Resistance clone, even though Resistance is a boring piece of crap, just like Gears is. If the point you are trying to demonstrate is that Sony fails while XBox only release COD-like games, then I'm sorry to announce Sony does not fail. Who needs more boring shooters? oh yeah, teenagers, I forgot all about them. Saying Halo and Gears of War are great is like getting ''Thor was the best movie ever'' tattooed on your forehead. It shows you lack taste and are not open minded when it comes to gaming. SUPPPPPPPPPPPPPER FRANKIE!

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

 @MafiaMusic You are either a terrible moron or a great troll. Halo and Gears are over rated in the first place (good, but over rated), and Killzone and Uncharted aren't even the best PS3 exclussives (though Uncharted is leagues better than Gears of War).

 

Did you forget about MGS4, Heavy Rain, Journey, Flower, LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2, inFamous, inFamous 2, God of War 3, 3D Dot Game Heroes, Demon's Souls, Heavenly Sword, Starhawk, ModNationRacers, Ratchet and Clank ToD, Ratchet and Clank aCiT, Fat Princess and tons of HD Collections of some of the best games of all time from PS2. Xbox has no games to counteract any of those.

 

So enjoy your Halo 4 when we'll be getting The Last of Us, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, The Last Guardian, Agent, Playstation All Stars, Ni No Kuni, LittleBigPlanet Karting, a new Quantic Dream Game and The Unfinished Swan.

ClintCommander
ClintCommander

 @MafiaMusic Go to gamerankings where overall uncharted 2 and 3 were rated higher than gears 2 and 3 and then go eat crap.  Honestly, I hope your comment was ironic because it's one of the dumbest things I have ever seen.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

 @kuraimen It's not platform fanboyism. Gunstringer is a peculiar case that would be cracked by any investigative journalist worth his/her sault if this (already rare) breed existed on gaming journalism. That game got TEN in some sites. TEN. It's ridiculous.

 

Gamers love to think that reviews are paid. The truth in that case is worse than that: it's just bro attitude. Tom didn't gave 8.5 to the game, he gave 8.5 to Twisted Pixel as they were in the process of being bought by MS - something I'm sure wouldn't happen if Gunstringer failed in any level.

 

Not saying this is a conscious attitude. Sometimes the people just get carried away. Lots of journos do the same for big developers out of principle so not to lose support.

Granpire
Granpire

@kuraimen Microsoft fanboy? He gave the Uncharted games glowing reviews, as well as Closure, and he's been outspoken and positive about Sony's drive for innovation. So that's not it. I think the problem with Tom is that one large fault tends to bother him to the point where he develops a hate for the game.

Chickan_117
Chickan_117

 @Nu2u I finished it on hard but haven't replayed it to get the platinum. Wasn't overly difficult except for the tree fight with all the spiders and the second last boss but upgrades helped there :)From what I read his difficulty arguments were that it was difficult to get the game to do what he wanted so he was dying for stupid reasons. That's different to it just being too hard.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

 @xolivierx

 Except Resistance released after Gears of War. But whatever, haven't played either.

 

tigertaru
tigertaru

 @lmaocarrots The funny thing is there's still a common misconception that 360 is the system with more exclusives.  But aside from Halo and Gears, where are the other exclusives?

Iridescent406
Iridescent406

 @kuraimen Different opinion =/= Terrible reviewer. You just can't accept the fact that he has a different taste in gaming then you do. Grow up.

Chickan_117
Chickan_117

 @tigertaru Firstly why do people still care who has more exclusives. PC wins anyway as it's got over 4 decades worth of titles and more exclusives than total releases for PS3 or X360!To answer your query though:

 

- Forza 

- Fable

- Fez

- Alan Wake

- Trials

- Fable

- Project Gotham

- Mass Effect... oh wait, scrap that :)

- Splinter Cell

 

blah blah blah. And that's from a guy who spends most of his time on his PS3!

Chickan_117
Chickan_117

 @Iridescent406 Reading thru these comments I agree with you to an extent.  We all have things we like and things we hate. It's good that Tom's expressing his own opinion on this stuff and will be refrehsing for those who share it.

 

That said I don't agree with the points he makes in the review but that's simply because I never experienced them myself. If I had I'd probably share the opinion.

Nu2u
Nu2u

 @Gelugon_baat

Nothing wrong with reviewing the reviewers either imo. Sometimes where there's smoke there's fire. Tom Chick for example consistently thumbs downs games that most people would agree are some of the leaders of the pack (Uncharted, Gears, Forza, Halo, Skyrim, Journey, Max Payne). It can get a little predictable/gimmicky.

 

Why do I care about meta? More like why does Gamespot care enough to have a metacritic line posted at the top right of this review complete with a hyperlink and an overall avg? If they didn't want me to go there, they shouldn't be advertising it. Then I wouldn't have said anything. No biggie.

Nu2u
Nu2u

 @Gelugon_baat

 

Thing is, one needs only to go to GameRankings and Metacritic to see how far off the norm Tom is with this one...so easy with the 'petty simplification' shot at Suikki. 

 

Dropping the meta average from 71 to 69 in one fell swoop when all Tom had to do was lower the difficutly, seems excessive. This is why games HAVE difficulty settings. I guarantee if Tom did that like I did, his score would have gone up even with his complaints. Made a HUGE difference for me. *shrugs*

Sorcery More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    Use your Move controller as a wand in this action adventure game.
    6.5
    Average User RatingOut of 50 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Sorcery
    Developed by:
    The Workshop
    Published by:
    SCEE, SCEI, SCEA, SCE Australia
    Genres:
    Action, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    All Platforms
    Drug and Alcohol Reference, Mild Animated Blood