Back in the 80s, Steve Jackson , co-founder of Games Workshop and Lionhead Studios, penned Sorcery!, a collection of interactive stories. In 2014, Jackson collaborated with the U.K.’s inkleStudios to bring forth a tech-oriented version of the series for iPad. Sorcery! proved to be a natural fit for iPad and Sorcery! parts 1 and 2 were a hit with both readers and critics. Most recently, Sorcery! 3: The Seven Serpents hit the app store and fortunately for us—it keeps the sorcery going.
The Sorcery! series puts you in the well-worn boots of an intrepid adventurer who must save the kingdom from a conniving Archmage. The heart of this magician’s power is an artifact called the Crown of Kings, and it’s up to you to brave countless dangers in order to retrieve it. The Seven Serpents focuses (surprise!) on finding and defeating seven magic serpents who are servants of the Archmage.
As in previous Sorcery! chapters, you’re allowed to play as male or female (you can also import the hero/choices from previous chapters). You start healthy and strong, and with access to a collection of magical spells that can be cast by looking at the stars and creating short, three-letter words. Some spells require magical items in order to be cast, while other simply take stamina points. If you find your stamina all tapped out, you have the option of praying to one of the various gods for help and healing.
In terms of gameplay, the Sorcery! series has thus far been pretty simple. You move through the story, make choices, and deal with the consequences of those choices. This go-round, there’s more of a gameplay/puzzle-like element that ups the challenge considerably. While crossing the mountainous Baklands, you find areas that are seemingly impassable; you also find mysterious crystal-powered towers that can transform the land by shining magical light across it.
The idea is that the light enables you to experience the land years before it was laid to waste. That means towns are repopulated, broken statues are repaired and downed bridges are rendered intact. You can control the direction and span of the light, thus controlling the condition of the land.This tower mechanic adds yet another layer of complexity, making the interactive experience even richer and more varied.
Supporting this cool new mechanic, is strong writing and strange, unexpected encounters with new people and circumstances. It’s harder to stay safe though, since there’s even more opportunity to send yourself to an untimely and unpleasant death. Even so, it’s thrilling to see how many alternate ways you can make the story go, and the rewind feature makes sure things never get too frustrating.
This dragon-centric chapter of Sorcery! 3 does a fantastic job of keeping things dynamic and interesting, and better yet, its new puzzle-like aspect gives it the kind of magical, surprise-filled, combat-related fun fantasy fans live for. Let’s hope Sorcery! 4 is on its way soon!
To find out more about Sorcery! visit the game’s official website, or to download the game, visit the iTunes store.