Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Part 1 Review

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 1 Logo

Developer: inkle
Publisher: inkle
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

As a huge fan of visual novels, it will probably come as quite a shock that I’ve barely ever touched any gamebooks. Gamebooks, as their name implies, are books that grant the player some direct control – or gameplay – at many junctures throughout the story. Many have played something from the Choose Your Own Adventure catalog. However, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a  huge step above that. Initially a part of the Fighting Fantasy series in the 1980s, developer inkle has smartly re imagined it for the mobile market.

Sorcery! Part 1 is just the first leg of an epic journey and it is a blast to play. The storyline is fairly common: You are a young, inexperienced adventurer who must travel to many dangerous locations to obtain the Crown of Kings. Along your way, there are many choices to make that shift the whole tone of the story that’s unfolding for the player. With so much choice, you really feel like the narrative matches your decisions.

For example, I imbued my hero with a very courageous, smart, and caring personality. She would fight for what was deemed right if it were necessary but not get into battles for the heck of it. When offered food from poor townsfolk, she would refuse it as they needed it much more than her. Any time it seemed a dangerous situation was around the corner I would even tense up a bit, trying to rightly perceive which option would be the right one. It’s all thanks to the great writing that made me invested in my character as well as her quest.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 1 Screenshot

Alongside the many choices of what to say and where to go, there is also a battle system that is quite neat. When you’re in an inescapable battle the screen switches to show both your hero and the enemy as cool black and white art. It then plays out a bit like rock, paper, scissors where you must determine when they’ll strike hard or when they’re bluffing and only going to defend. It’s not random as the descriptions hint to what will come next. Unfortunately, sometimes the touch controls didn’t function properly which made it hard to switch fighting stances without trying multiple times. This touch screen issue also persisted on the map menu at times.

Although Sorcery! Part 1 is just the first of Steve Jackson’s fantasy adventures, it is still a great start that will last players a good deal of hours (especially considering the likely short gameplay sessions on phones). It comes tremendously recommended if you enjoy those sort of classic fantasy adventure tales as well as gamebooks. If you’ve never played a gamebook before then this is also a great way to start thanks to its superb writing and fun gameplay!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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