iPad: Sorcery has bewitched me

mapI have a particular fondness for RPG gamebooks stemming back to my childhood.  They were like an awesome combination of D&D and Choose Your Own Adventure, and absolutely flourished in the 80s.  Now they’re enjoying a renaissance on mobile platforms, a place that seems ideal for these sorts of games.  I’ve played both Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Adventures on the iPhone, but I think I’ve found my new favorite.

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery is an adaption of Jackson’s four-part gamebook series (although only the first book is currently available in the game.  What’s impressed me is that the adaptation has gone way above and beyond what I’ve seen in other mobile gamebooks.  Instead of just flipping through pages, the team created this 3D world map that your character token traverses.  The story is told through little paragraph snippets that flow down over the page and are stitched together as you make decisions.  I can’t emphasize just how good the production values are here.

The addition of the map/game board really helps with visualizing your progress through the world.  Sometimes gamebooks lost me after the thousandth choice, but here I always have a quick reference for where I’ve been and where I’m going.  Another nice touch is a nice variety of ambient sound effects to represent the region you’re currently exploring.

In addition to making decisions, picking up loot, and spending gold on rations and other goodies, Sorcery has two systems for engaging enemies.  The first is a swordfighting system that is definitely different than your standard dice rolls.  You have to choose a stance for the next round based on what you think your opponent will do (sometimes you get clues in the text), and if you’re smart enough, you can win without taking too much damage.  The other system is a somewhat complicated spellbook.  There are 48 spells (!) that are detailed here, although you can’t always use them all — and when you do they either require an item in your possession or some of your precious stamina.  I have enjoyed casting spells, however, because they do a lot more than just launch a fireball at your opponent.

Anyway, I think Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is available on both iOS and Android platforms, and even with the $5 price tag, I think it’s well worth picking up.  I’ve spent hours engrossed in the adventure so far, and I’m looking forward to the next three books to be added (apparently your character’s progress will carry over).

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9 thoughts on “iPad: Sorcery has bewitched me

  1. Sounds quite interesting. Of course what I’d like to see is a similar adaptation of the Blood Sword book series, which took a Sorcery style adventure book and added on multiplayer party mechanics…

  2. No, it isn’t, Syp.
    Steve Jackson of Car Wars / Illuminati / OGRE fame is the American Steve Jackson of the gaming scene.
    Sorcery! was written by the British Steve Jackson of the gaming scene, co-author with Ian Livingstone of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and co-founder of Games Workshop when it was a company that traded in (and later published) RPGs and before it became the Warhammer behemoth that started denying the rest of the gaming hobby even existed.
    The two Steves Jackson have been confusing the bejesus out of gamers for over thirty years now :)

  3. That reminds me of the Lone Wolf series of Choose Your Own Adventure. It was your standard fantasy trope hero with swords and whatnot, and the combat was pretty randomized, but you had items and powers that carried over into other books and this full overarcing storyline to go along with it. I think I still have them somewhere…

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