Waving My Wand At Sorcery

The PlayStation Move magic game Sorcery charmed us when presented on stage at E3 earlier this year. Does the enchantment hold now that we've played it ourselves?

Many people thought Sorcery was little more than a PlayStation Move tech demo, meant to show off how the Sony motion controller could be used as a magic wand, and in a way, it was.

For developer The Workshop, getting the wand functionality working perfectly was of paramount importance in creating Sorcery. Making sure the PlayStation Move controller functioned as intuitively as possible was key in making a game like Sorcery work, so now that they've got it working, of course they're going to show that off.

In fact, the demo that was shown on stage at E3 is exactly what I found myself playing through at GamesCom yesterday.

Sorcery is still in the early stages, but it functions as promised. The moment I had the PlayStation Move controller in my hand I was flicking my wrist and tossing arcane bolts every which way. Without prompting I held down the move button, which caused my on-screen character to lift his staff into the air, building a charge. Bringing the controller straight down had him slam the base of the wand onto the ground, causing an enormous area-of-effect explosion, sending shockwaves across the ground.

I was impressed, though the control is still in need of some major work.

At this early stage of development, I had to control the main character's movements using a Dual Shock controller held in my off-hand, which was a bit unwieldy and imprecise. Another issue I had was with the game's auto-targeting, which one moment would aim for the goblin-like creatures attacking me, and the next fire randomly at the wall or other bits of scenery.

Still, the game is still around a year away from release, so there's plenty of time to fix what's wrong.

Back to what's right. Opening up the game menu, I queue up a potion that will turn me into a rat.

I wander from a barren main room into a dungeon basement, where green-skinned goblins crawl from the depths to attack. Remembering what I saw in the demo, I switched my spell to wall of fire, drawing a line in front of me with my wand, and then quickly switched to the whirlwind spell, twirling the controller about like a lasso and then casting towards my enemies. The whirlwind absorbed the flames, forming a fiery funnel of controllable death that look out hordes of the creatures.

More came, and I used the alt-fire mode for the wall of fire, quickly drawing lines to create moving walls of fire, toasting approaching goblins on contact. More and more came, and my arm flicked frantically, decimating them with magical heat. Such was my power that a polygon glitch caused the game to lock up.

Oops.

After we rebooted it was time for me to leave, but not before my demonstration helper took one last chance to impress. "They won't let me do this on stage," he explains, flipping the Move controller in the air and catching it. On screen, the character does the same thing. I am glad he didn't show me that trick first, as I would have been throwing that damn controller all over the place.

With 25-30 spells in the final version of the game and a 6-8 hour main storyline involving dark fairies, Sorcery promises to be a lot more than just a tech demo. Even if it's little more than that at the moment, it's one hell of an impressive one.