Earlier this month I panned Kinect: Star Wars, and I had some harsh words to say about the Kinect as well. Sony’s more traditional attempt at motion control is just as deserving of criticism. Though the Kinect, and to a lesser extent the Wii, both hold the promise of untapped potential and unique advantages, Move’s advantage over the Kinect lies with its more corporeal ‘wand’ form and buttons, and also tends to feel more fluid and accurate than the Wii remote. Yet both of these advantages have been rendered moot for the same reason that the Wii had a reputation for sheltering a glut of shovelware, and for the same reason that Kinect is currently coping with the same stigma. It lacks a killer app.
Sorcery, announced at E3 2010, promised to end the drought of good Move games. How well it has succeeded at doing so is debatable.
More importantly, Sorcery evolves the gameplay. It’s true that one game revolves around sword play, and the other revolves around shooting magical bolts, but the comparison here is that while Medieval Moves didn’t change much from the moment you first gained control over Edmund, Sorcery does. Sorcery repeats Medieval Moves‘ most egregious sin by utilizing the same two enemy types from the beginning of the game until the very end, but it finds some interesting ways to vary things up.
The downside is that there aren’t enough interesting ways to combine your spells, nor is there a sufficient number of puzzles requiring you to discover fun ways to combine them. Casting spells is deceptively rigorous in that the goal is to replicate a small number of gestures rather than free-style with waving the wand about. The controls themselves are also a bit spotty. Flicking the motion controller in a certain direction effects which spell you cast and its trajectory. Flicking your wrist to the left while arcane bolt is equipped curves the bolt left around enemy cover, while doing the same motion with the wind element equipped creates a small tornado. Motions involving jerking the controller upwards to hit high-ground enemies frequently proved to be unresponsive. Often times I would try to cast an arcane bolt with this motion and nothing would come out. The element selection also involves gestures, some of which were equally unresponsive.
Since the player doesn’t have access to a 2nd analogue stick to control the view, the camera works in a similar way to that of Skyward Sword where you simply rotate Finn and center the camera with a button press on the navigation controller. This works well enough most of the time as the game requires absolutely no platforming. It is not without its issues though.
Due to the use of automatic enemy lock-on, the player isn’t even given the option of fighting a bad camera angle in a hectic fight. This isn’t so bad when the game is only throwing a few of the same type of enemies at you, or placing them all directly in front of you, but as the game goes on combat becomes increasingly saturated with combatants, many of whom will happily take any chance to flank Finn. Robbing the player of agency over the camera would not be such an issue if it did not prefer to focus on harmless enemies in the distance while others are sticking their swords in Finn’s back.
The whole affair isn’t terribly long, and I dare say it’s actually well paced. Had it gone on any longer it would not only have dragged, but the apparent flaws would threaten to outweigh the fun. Like most of the bosses, the final boss fight is rather enjoyable. My only criticism of it is that while other boss fights demand that you master the spells that you have learned up to that point, the grand finale against the Nightmare Queen falls a bit short of the promised climax by not testing the abilities you’ve honed throughout the rest of the game.