Steve Jackson's Sorcery!

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As a child I've owned several Fighting Fantasy books and thoroughly enjoyed the content in each novel but I never actually gotten to finishing any of it. That being because I never bothered to understand the game mechanics system and almost die too often in every encounter within the game because I am a irrefutably lazy little bastard. 

What is Fighting Fantasy most will wonder. Some of you might remember these novels to be a series of single-player roleplaying table-top gamebooks designed for readers to play as a specific character and progress using a non-linear system where the player will be able to make decisions based on situations and they will all branch out to different results and potentially different endings. Examples of such an encounter can be: arguing with a bunch of townspeople you pissed off because you managed to intimidate them, attacking a party of orcs or simply pick locking a door. All these are ruled by the game's dialogue system where you have a variety of ways to complete certain objectives. In combat you are able to dispatch your enemies in a brutal fashion, bribe them to spare your life or even cast magic which end up with different results. The outcome of these choices are governed by the game's dice system, where the majority of the decisions you make requires you to roll dice.

 

Oh nostalgia

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Sorcery! is the first digital gamebook by Steve Jackson ported over to the iOS developed by inkle. The game features "An innovative blend of RPG, table-top game and interactive story in which every decision counts and YOU are the hero." as quoted on their website. What I found very interesting was how the combat played out in the digital format, I never played the original Sorcery! but inkle has made the gameplay very immersive and engaging for me on personal level. 

 

Ha ha! Tis but a scratch!

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I previously played another gamebook for the iOS titled Blood Of The Zombies by Ian Livingstone (Which is rather fantastic by the way!). How combat played within that game is you simply roll the dice against the opponent, the highest number wins basically. Sorcery!'s combat on the other hand, works in an entire different fashion, you essentially 'slide' your character and by doing so you would increase the attack power you will deliver to an enemy. The enemy will do the same and the character with the higher power rating will deal damage depending on the difference in power rating. You have the ability to 'defend' by sliding your character all the way to the left and by doing so your character will receive the lowest amount of damage (1 stamina) regardless of the opponent's power rating. The more power you choose to deliver per turn, the more stamina you drain and you will not be able to deal as much power the next turn. The health in this game is depicted by the amount of Stamina you and your opponent has. Stamina can be affected outside of combat by falling down a hill, resting in an inn and praying to your Spirit. 

Sounds rather dry on a mechanical point of view doesn't it? That's not all of course! Every round of combat the game will bombard you with beautifully written combat dialogues and descriptive texts which will prepare you for what the opponent might do next. "Solder A raises his sword in a defensive stance and anticipates your next blow". This system truly makes the gameplay a very fun and engaging experience every time you enter combat. I've completed the game and I have never encountered repeated descriptive dialogues. 

 

Does LOL make your opponents laugh to their deaths?

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Another important feature in Sorcery! is the legendary nostalgic Magic system. Depending on the situation, you will often have the ability to cast a spell by spelling 3 letters from your spell book. ZAP will send a bolt of electricity to your opponents while 

FOG will blind your enemies in a closed room without any windows. Outside of combat, you can use spells to analyse and fool the characters within the game's universe. DOP will open locked doors if it isn't sealed by magic, SUS will give you telepathic abilities and allows you to find any traps while GOB will require a Goblin's tooth and allow you to summon goblins to do your bidding.

 

ZAP looks rather painful

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Travelling in the game will require you to 'draw' a path for your character into available nodes throughout the game's map. Most of the time you will have multiple directions you are able to take, some decisions will force you to take only one path and discard the other. This will potentially branch you off to a route and you may never be able to turn back. Of course, just like the physical gamebooks, you have the option to 'flip' back to your previous decision and backtrack to mistakes you may want to correct. 

 

The UI is sleek and pretty in Sorcery!

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Despite the lack of an Android port, the game has featured several innovative mechanics for the digital rendition of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. The combat is highly satisfying and immersive with masterful content pacing. Playing the game once is never enough to fully explore ALL the contents of Sorcery!. But be prepared to use your pencil and paper when you delve into the Underground bit of the game! I had to draw out the entire cavern system to be able to complete the sodding quest because I have a horrible sense of direction. 

Sorcery! is a great example of a beautifully crafted gamebook in all it's digital format glory, I am hoping more gamebooks will arise and follow this great example of a rendition. Therefore I will happily give this game a rating of

 

89/100

 

Sorcery! will be the first in the series of Steve Jackson's gamebooks covering The Shamutanti Hills. The game is priced at SGD $5.98 and it is available here for the iPad and the iPhone.

 

Small Update

I have written a few incomplete articles over the past weeks but have not managed to finish it. I am a horrible procrastinater especially when I am being bombarded with a truckload of assignments in school so I apologise if I haven't been posting regularly. There will be upcoming reviews for Don't Starve, Might & Magic Duel of Champions, Clash of Heroes, Eclipse and the upcoming Star Command. But most importantly, I have yet to watch Ironman 3 and Oblivion so I am a sad depressed panda. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on those soon and I thank each and everyone of you who reads my article and have a great weekend.  

 

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About me:
Occupation: Games Journalist, student, omegalomaniac nerd
Speciality: Interviews, foolish word-play, cats

Nicholas enjoys the dull monotonously infrequent rainy weathers of Singapore while listening to silky smooth eargasmic tunes of Jazz, Orchestral Symphonies and most often the endless reverberating screams of Rock & Roll. He loves singing (horribly) in the showers as he delusionally believes himself to be the next Singapore/American/Earth idol. He simply love Games.

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