The Magic Continues in Steve Jackson's Sorcery! 3 Review
You would think that a text based game based on some high level, choose-your-own-adventure style books wouldn't have much room to grow, right? When your game revolves around pushing forward an already created story that original fans will demand stay true to form, there doesn't seem to be a lot of wiggle room. Yet inkle, the developers of this so-far trilogy, have done just that.
While a long time coming, the Sorcery series has been making it's way out on mobile platforms for a while. Within the first game, a classic tale of adventuring was woven. The second allowed you some rewinding of time for do-overs or a shot at getting a different rare item. The goal was always the same, though: make it through the dangerous city with as many achievements as possible to lighten the difficulty of the next section. Within this game, it is taken a step further. To stay spoiler-free, your adventurer starts across a desolate landscape with several tasks at hand, and they branch out like tributaries of a river right from the start, giving you a true sense of choice. This time around, not only can you rewind and try a different path, but you can use some mechanics involving towers across the gamescape to manipulate time as well, throwing more options your way.
I felt more in control of my outcome in Sorcery 3 than in 2. While rare, I'm sure, I reached a point in Sorcery 2 that I would have had EVERYTHING available (and the best trip into 3) if I could have had an option to look at this random tree, but due to the amount of times I'd rewound time I didn't have a particular item that let me do a particular thing, even though I knew that last thing was right there. In this game, the rewind feature doesn't feel like you're going to lose everything you did just to go back for that one thing you realize you lost.
While Sorcery 3 can be played on it's own and holds together the story well enough for newcomers, those who have played 1 and 2 will be pleased to know that the spell-save system continues. For the unaware, Sorcery's story-driven choices will transport over to the next game via a code given to you at the end of the former. While a newcomer may be confused by the shadowy figure they meet, a player of a previous game may recognize him as a direct friend or foe, depending on how they treated him before. Spells will be easier, as you will bring materials you picked up prior in your adventure, as will keeping yourself fed if you were wise with your rations and gold supply.
Animations continue to improve, as our hero's avatar grows beyond a playing piece, changing his/her animation during key events. The map is a living, breathing thing in itself. Moving across it, the hills and valleys shift with each other, and certain events cause it to spin into a 3D landscape as you purvey the distant hills.
Battle action stays the same, with rich story-driven text pushing the risk/reward system of fighting. Puzzles are light enough to enjoy, and not as frustrating as in the second one, where the time mechanic was integral to some answers, and you ended up seeing puzzles you had no idea how to finish until later. In Sorcery 3, you are in a race against time to prevent your presence from attracting the attention of your main foe, giving the whole adventure a sense of urgency.
Sorcery 3 is currently $4.99 on the iTunes App Store and Google Play. A wonderful standalone adventure and the best in the series, though I strongly suggest playing 1 and 2 in order to keep up with the lore and better prepare your adventurer in their battle against the Seven Serpents. Be on the lookout for the final chapter, which is bound to come soon!
Review Score: 4/5
A review copy was provided by the developers.