Sorcery was one my unexpected highlights of Sony's E3 demonstration. As a full game that's purpose-built for the peripheral, I was impressed by the intuitive hand movements required to cast spells and interact with the environment (or more precisely, burn things to cinders). Luckily, Sony was kind enough to grant me some face time with the E3 tech demo as well as one of the project leads.
So, let's start with the basics. Chronicling the adventures of a young wizard, Sorcery takes place in a fantasy world based on Irish and Gaelic mythology (that's currently being written)... but lets face it, you don't want to know about the story. It's been custom-built to support and show off the Playstation Move, and I'm delighted to report that it succeeds even at this early stage. Movement is directed by the subcontroller thumbstick, and the main controller provides 1:1 movement of the sorceror's right hand. It felt natural and smooth, with a surprisingly capable crouch move that made the young wizard duck when I bent my knees.
So, onto the spellslinging. Starting out with the Arcane Bolt (a basic projectile-based attack), I flicked my wrist at the screen and was delighted to watch the magical bolt curve with the same spin that I'd put on it. A stronger flick creates a more powerful attack that goes a lot further, and I was able to easily pick off some distant enemies at the other end of a long hallway. The developer assured me that a targeting system provided “stickiness” rather than actual autoaim- and made aiming feel intuitive without becoming patronisingly simple. When a mob of goblins attacked me I was told to hold the trigger, hold the 'wand' aloft and smash it downward; and doing so created a massive radial shockwave that decimated my hapless opponents. Awesome.
The whirlwind was my next port of call. Selecting it from a radial menu that paused the game, I whirled the wand in a clockwise motion around my head and let the tornado fly. Pointing the Move controller towards the screen allowed me to direct the whirlwind to pick up and eventually spit out a crowd of enemies, though once cast it can't be directed back towards the player.
A fire spell allowed me to draw impassable barriers with the wave of my hand and enchanted the tornado into a terrifying flaming maelstrom...and casting an arcane bolt into the vortex will apparently cause a massive storm of projectiles to rain down on opponents. The Frost Shard ice spell can be used to freeze and shatter enemies, and I was informed that there will be 25 to 30 spell combos in the finished article. Groovy.
Oh, and a mending spell allowed me to repair a bridge by rotating the wand. Felt natural... but I'm more interested in magically wrecking stuff up. Moving on.
Finally, I was able to pick up a polymorph potion by flicking the wand towards me. Pressing Square to equip it, I had to vigourously shook the potion until it was ready and drink it by literally performing the action. Call it gimmicky, but I really found it an immersive and interesting little feature.
Finally, it's worth noting that this is a tech demo... not an actual level from the game. As such, there were plenty of graphical glitches, camera problems and a cutesy art-style that's apparently not representative of the finished product. The finished affair will be a much tighter affair that'll last around 8 hours, with optional subquests bulking it out to around 10. In case you're interested, it'll be singleplayer only and will absolutely not support 3D at launch.
Even at this incredibly early stage, the fact is that Sorcery works. Considering my fairly negative and cynical view of motion control as a whole, I was genuinely surprised at how natural it felt... and with this impressive tech framework, there's real potential for it to become something very special indeed. We'll be keeping a close eye on this one.