Hearken to me, ye olde Homedudes and Handmaidens!
Steve Jackson Games, the brilliant minds behind table-top hits such as Ogre, Munchkin, and it’s hundreds of spin offs, breathed new life into their 1980s adventure gamebook series Sorcery! written by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Blanche, and have thrust their classic story into a new era in the best way currently known. Making an app for it.
Billed as an innovative blend of RPG, table-top game and interactive story, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! from developer inkle is a blur of epic fantasy adventure genres in which every decision counts and you are the hero.
“You have walked the wilds of Kakhabad: throught Khare and the spiteful Baklands, all the way into Mampang.
You have survived traps, thieves, serpents and vengeful Gods,
And now it is here.
The Crown of Kings!“
Well that sounds awesome. Why can’t I play through that stuff?
Some crown, which is referred to as “The Crown,” was according to lengend never actually forged. By a happy chance for him, some solider called Chalanna found it and decided, “Hey, you know? I don’t really feel like being on the low end of the monarchy, our wages suck and I’d really just like to rule everything.” So he takes this crown (“The Crown”) and suddenly became Emperor of the Eastern World.
The sense of things not boding well in this land are apparent. Crowns are dangerous things to covet, you guys.
Like it’s paperback predecessor, Sorcery!s story has a natural flow that never feels forced and progresses through your own choices that, for good or ill, affect the world and your place within it. Sprinkled throughout with touchscreen sword fights, an interesting magic system with 48 different spells in your arsenal, and tabletop tactics make Sorcery! worthy of at least three play throughs to master the Spell Book alone.
That isn’t to say that Sorcery is without it’s drawbacks, because what game doesn’t have at least one instance that leaves the player frustrated? Cue several instances of the game crashing straight out of choosing my adventurer. “Sorcery! Isn’t responding. Would you like to close it?” was the phrase plastered across my screen that had me seriously considering chucking my mobile device at the wall.
Couple a few crash issues with the fact that, like its 80’s storybook predecessor, Sorcery!s app version is just one book of four parts rather than a means that the player should not be too hopeful for a conclusion within the few hours of gameplay.
However, with most mobile games fizzling out of a daily ritual about a month in (I’m looking at you, Words With Friends), Sorcery!s decide your own adventure theme and thousands of choices for every different motive have the added bonus of replay value, which makes Sorcery! a rare gem in it’s genre.
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is available to purchase for Apple and Android devices. And be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for Sorcery 2!
How good could a game about making soup be?
*Disclaimer – The copy of Covenant that I am reviewing is an ARC that was received with the intention of a fair review.
*Disclaimer part 2 – As far as I know, God is not dead, seriously though lots of Angels, Demons, and Jinn died during the writing of this review. Angels are fucking crazy man…for reals. I don’t know what you’ve heard about demons and Jinn but those freaks are just as nuts. Really, everyone is fucking insane, really seems to enjoy art and violence. It’s all very odd.
Okay, that got out of hand quickly. I apologize you had to see that Reading Audience, I never wanted to expose you to the gross, inner workings of my diseased mind but it seems like this is one of those times the editors deem it necessary. If you don’t want to find out how deep this rabbit hole goes I suggest turning back now, that unfiltered part comes quickly….heh, “comes quickly”.
I feel like with any good pseudo-religious/YA Fantasy book review we should start out with the requisite blasphemy, and heresy, life wouldn’t be any fun without it. So let’s get to it. I have a confession, I sat at my keyboard for a good 3 hours after finishing Covenant. It’s not easy for me to admit, but I may have tried to masturbate to an airsoft gun enthusiasts magazine. To feel like a man again, that’s how it works right? No?…Well…shit.. Okay…Moving on.
Covenant is the second book in the series The Books of Raziel, it picks up immediately after the events of book one; Archon. Let’s dive right into this, if you liked Archon you are going to enjoy and possibly even love Covenant, if you didn’t enjoy Archon and it’s dearth of sentences describing architecture, environment, and the color of everyone’s hair then Covenant isn’t going to do it for you either. But does that mean I think it is a bad book? Not at all, there are masses of people that fiction like this appeals to. The author, Sabrina Benulis perhaps correctly recognizes this and strives to reach that sort of reader.
For those of you interested in checking out the series, let’s take a quick trip back to Archon to look at what leads into Covenant. The Books of Raziel tell the tale of Angela Mathers (That name bothers me to no end for some reason, still haven’t figured it out.), Angela is what is known in this alternate earth as a Bloodhead which is basically just a redheaded girl or boy. Apparently in this setting being a redhead is comparable to being left-handed in the not too distant past. The difference being redheads are feared because of a prophecy that implies a ginger will destroy the world. This prophecy has lead the Vatican, which seems to be all powerful and more than a little corrupt to found a city to watch over the blood heads and other people with “gifts”.
Welcome to the city of Luz, which is possibly the strongest character in both of the books so far. Ms. Benulis paints a haunting picture of this city mired in superstition and centuries past because of the effects of magic on technology. Luz is what kept me coming back to finish both these books. Which is unfortunate, because in the grand scheme of things when the setting outshines every one of the characters you create to populate it I believe it is time to revisit your notes. For every major player and character Angela meets, I can hardly remember any memorable moments or sympathetic qualities, and while Archon showed some hints at the possibility of future character development Covenant failed to deliver in any sense of the word. Gone is even the pretense, as Covenant seems to careen from violent act to violent act. While things definitely change and shift for the players in the story it seems like all of the changes are cosmetic and don’t actually make the reader care about the characters in any way. Which is disappointing, given that Archon hinted at something better. Maybe the third book in the series can redeem it for me, but at this point much like Angela, I have given in to despair. The book is filled with what for me seemed like trope after trope of mary sues, many of them never even realizing their full potential.
But all cannot be lost, right? For those of you that like stories of Angels, Demons, Jinn, and more supernatural romance than you can shake a stick at, you might enjoy this tale that Sabrina Benulis is crafting. There are hints in both Covenant and Archon of a story that is sitting right at the edges of this one, hoping to be crafted and told in a more fleshed out fashion. Let’s hope that it can find it’s way into the light.
Hallmark is the most recent company to launch a new product into the war to take over my precious desk-space. The adorable “Itty Bitty” plushies are compact, soft, and just about dying to hang from my backpack.
The current lines include Disney and Friends, DC Comics, and the Wizard of Oz. and we can expect more Star Wars and Rudolf collections later this year! Oh, how I’d like to bounce a mini-Bumble.
The overwhelmingly negative response to Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus really surprised me, so here are some reasons why I think this could be a great thing not only for Oculus, but for VR and the gaming industry as a whole.
The sad, alternate tale of Robocop.