🎲⚔️ Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Nintendo Switch 8.5/10 "If I Could Turn Back Time" ⚔️🎲 @inkleStudios #IndieGames #GameDev

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Those familiar with the classic Fighting Fantasy books will remember holding their thumb as a marker in various pages as they skipped forth to whatever fate their choice has dealt them…before quickly making the opposing choice when they see that they are going to get gassed and knocked off a ladder and killed when they try to yank that emerald from the statue’s visage.

That element of pure fun with a hint of chance encounters is captured perfectly here in digital form. The original four-part book series of Sorcery! was released in the mid-eighties and saw a young adventurer leaving their closed-off hometown in a fantasy-medieval setting and trekking off to find a fabled lost crown. That is the story here, and throughout the game, Steve Jackson’s compulsive writing dovetails extremely satisfyingly with how well the game mechanics have been implemented.

Your character – you can choose male or female at the start of your adventure – is illustrated as a figure on a large overworld map, making up the game world. The presentation is fantastic, with lilting, unobtrusive music – and occasional ambient sound effects - accompanying you on your quest, with Jackson’s writing - naturally - the star of the show. It’s an incredibly text-heavy game, but I never felt like I was reading endless blocks of text, as the writing really sucks you in and moves the story along at a steady pace, giving it a breezy vibe.

The detailed world map calls to mind so many classic landscapes that frequented the front of many fantasy adventures, but the fact that you are moving through it – as one would imagine in their mind as they read the stories – gives a solid nostalgic buzz. 

As mentioned above, the mechanics are accessible and well-implemented, with your trusty spell book and inventory at hand as you juggle rations, stamina, and the all-important gold, making your way through the adventure-heavy lands with threats and thrills at every turn.

So many memorable moments pop up regularly, such as the time I saw some people fishing by a quiet river, sat down to look at them for a few moments…and ended up slipping down a hill, almost snapping my sword and getting stabbed to death. Or perhaps the time I jauntily approached a village - to get hammered and have a kip - that appeared fine from the roadside…but was afflicted with a deadly plague and spelt my end… whoops.

You’ll find death many times on your quest, but you can rewind time by holding a button and skipping back on the steps of your journey, as far as you’d like. It’s not often I replay games, but I can already feel the pull of another run through Steve Jackson’s world, such is the quality and sense of fun throughout.

In terms of drawbacks, the only one that springs to mind is the combat, which felt arbitrary, and I would have much preferred that it was via further choices as opposed to the cumbersome tug-of-war mechanic that is in the game, although it thankfully doesn’t happen too often. It would be great if it could be removed/refined in future releases of this type of game, and I really do hope that we see more, as this is absolutely a winning formula.

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