Sony revealed Sorcery at E3 in 2010, at a time when the PlayStation Move was about to be all shiny and new. Here was this new PlayStation 3 motion controller looking like a magic wand (we won't talk about what ELSE it looks like) and here was Sorcery, a game in which the Move controller doubled as a flame-and-ice-and-wind-and-arcane bolt-spewing magic wand. It was a little bit Harry Potter, a little bit rock & roll.
Then... nothing. The game disappeared. Gaming conventions and trade shows came and went, and there was nothing said about The Workshop's magical, Unreal Engine-powered PS3 game. Even this year's E3 festivities were completely devoid of any Sorcery mention. It seemed like another year would go by with no word on the game... until Sony's 2012 preview event in New York City last week.
There it was, a Sorcery preview station, standing amidst the sea of PlayStation Vita and PS3 samplers. More than that, it was a hands-on demo station. Even E3 2010 attendees weren't afforded that luxury. So I stepped up to the big screen LCD and gripped the Move/Nav controller combo, ready to sling some spells at whatever beasties the game could throw my way.
Two things became immediately clear about Sorcery as I sampled a few of the third-person action-RPG's spells before jumping in with the demo. One: this game does not require motion controls. You DO get 1:1 movement with the character's on-screen wand, but really, you're swiping the Move controller to produce one of two basic effects for each given spell. Buttons and triggers could just as easily be set to perform those actions. And two: While Sorcery might not need motion controls, it's a hell of a lot more fun to cast spells by swinging that Move wand around than it would be to jam on gamepad buttons.
Based on what I saw in the demo, the swipes aren't perfect just yet. Regular attacks work just fine; snapping your wrist forward produces a spell's basic effect. You can even apply "English" to the attack, hooking a spell to the left or right by snapping your wrist in the required direction. I ran into some problems trying to cast each spell's secondary attack, however. The required downward flourish motion just wasn't being detected roughly a third of the time. The game continues to be tuned, however. The hope is that it'll be fully ready for primetime when it launches in spring 2012.
Control quirks aside, the basic parts do seem to work rather well. The demo set me up with the Arcane Bolt spell -- your standard attack, a very simple "Magic Missile"-type spell -- and three elemental spells, governing fire, ice and wind. Switching from your basic Arcane Bolt to another spell is as simple as holding down the Move button and weaving the controller in a circular motion to the left, right or over your head. Double-tapping the Move button then allows you to switch quickly back to Arcane Bolt.
The trick with slinging spells in Sorcery is combining effects to create more powerful attacks. Sure, you can shoot regular old Arcane Bolts. Or you can use the fire spell's secondary attack to create a wall of flame in front of you and then shoot Arcane Bolts through the fire, giving yourself a longer-range fireball attack than the fire spell's base attack can manage.
Perhaps ice is more your thing. Hit an enemy with your ice spell once, and it will slow down. Hit it a few more times and you'll see more ice crust up around it, until your target is eventually a motionless block of frozen water and bad guy meat. You can then shatter the ice block and the enemy inside it with a well-placed Arcane Bolt.
Even the environment provides some handy tools. Your wind spell works great at close range, especially the secondary attack's mini-tornado. Casting that secondary in front of any random flaming pot in the environment (or a wall of fire created by your own spellcasting) creates a fiery tornado.
The entirety of my demo unfolded in a single, semi-open environment. I faced off against a variety of goblin-like creatures as I worked toward opening and passing through a series of magical portals, slowly reshaping the environment around me as I went. The number of baddies and intensity of their attacks escalated throughout until I reached a cutscene featuring an obvious boss or mini-boss enemy. That fight will have to wait, however, as that's where the demo ended.
There's a narrative driving things forward, none of which I picked up on in the loud preview event's setting. The heroic sorcerer's apprentice at the center of the story is joined by a magical white cat; the two seemed to be exchanging snarky quips as I played but, again, hard to hear anything specific. That's okay though. This demo was clearly built around offering a taste of what Sorcery feels like to play, and it's a Move game I'm now very much looking forward to spending more time with again soon.