New from inkle studios, the team that brought the interactive novel Frankenstein to iOS in 2012, Steve Jackson's Sorcery! is a digital re-imagining of the Fighting Fantasy roleplaying gamebooks. You don't have to be a fan of the classic series to enjoy Sorcery!, nor do you have to be an avid reader (or even own a pair of dice). You just need a little bit of curiosity and a love of interactive stories.
The basic layout of Sorcery! puts you in the shoes of an adventurer striking out on a big quest. That quest unfolds one set of choices at a time, allowing you to decide how events play out and where you explore on the map. Heading through the town and out into the wilderness, you move from location to location by drawing a path on the overworld map, just like moving a board game piece. When you hit a new location the inkle-style narrative begins. Read the events that transpire, then make your decision by tapping one of the options below. Choices direct the story and provide you with different items, outcomes and challenges, all leading to more exciting stuff just down the road.
Whereas inkle studios' previous release was mostly text and artwork, Sorcery! includes a wider variety of experiences. Many of the choices you make will involve using items or casting/learning spells, and don't forget to carry enough rations to keep your stamina high. Combat is just the right level of excitement and plays out with you sliding your character to choose an attack. Slide to the left to go on the defense, or slide right to attempt more powerful (and more exhausting) attacks. It's a bit like rock-paper-scissors, only with goblins and axes and spells.
Analysis: Sorcery! is a very well-balanced example of hybrid storytelling. It effortlessly combines choice-based text options with combat, spell casting, light inventory management, and a strangely compelling board game-style overworld that's ripe for exploration. None of these elements are relied upon too heavily, and even the text itself is presented in small, digestible chunks. Perfect for anyone who avoids excessive reading in their video games.
Sorcery's foray into modern-style interactive fiction is very accessible. Having a minimal HUD is strangely comforting, even if the information it carries isn't always urgent. The RPG elements are just strong enough to make you take notice, but the story still takes center stage. Sorcery! has a definite old-style flavoring to its texts, but it's highly enjoyable with a lot of fun interactions. It's a little less literature and a little more game, but the balance is maintained elegantly and should appeal to a wider audience than just interactive fiction fans.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.