Steve Jackson's Sorcery! was being shown off quietly at PAX East 2013, and not in the fantasy choose-your-own-adventure book kind of way that some fans might expect. We got a bit of time to scope out a really interesting iPad adaptation, which adds new life to interactive storytelling.
Players take the reins of a bold adventurer exploring a rich fantasy world. Just about every step comes with a new choice that has long term repercussions on how your story ultimately unfolds. Each of those decisions are highlighted in a novel-style narrative that pops up every now and then. There are also more decidedly game-y elements, such as stamina points and a light combat system, but by and large it's your decisions and not your stats that will determine the story's outcome.
Though the game leans primarily on text, I was particularly impressed with the way the overworld map was rendered. From a static distance, it looks like an illustration you'd find in a weathered old paperback, but with a little panning and zooming, the entire topography comes alive through 3D modeling and shadows. I've spent my fair share of time around novels, but I think this kind of format holds a lot of promise for the more twitchy generation; smaller chunks of text, with recurring, important decision points, and rich visuals would certainly be enough to get me reading something other than blogs again.
I certainly don't envy the poor guy that has to write all of these contingent plot lines though. Sorcery! for iPad apparently has 26 different endings, each reached through many different paths. A similar project, Versu, was cooked up by the cooked up by the guys who made Second Life, but I'm finding the format used in Journey has a lot more flair.
Even if you've never read Steve Jackson, anybody remotely interested in literature should give this a shot. It's a really neat idea, and I hope it takes off. Sorcery! is aiming to launch in the App Store on May 4. Expect a premium pricetag a new episodes launched later as separate apps.
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