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Sorcery! Parts One and Two review: Choose your own adventure in this glorious Steve Jackson adaptation

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 3, 2016
1980s sword-and-board meets 2016

Those are just the macro choices. Once you’ve dragged your pawn to your next beat-of-choice, you get into the meat of Sorcery: Huge swathes of text, broken up occasionally with hand-drawn pictures I assume were included in the original books. Here, you’re bombarded with much smaller decisions—whether to flee or approach the old beggar sitting on the side of the road, whether to try and befriend a town full of silent and fearful people or just flee. Thousands of choices. Maybe hundreds of branches.

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!

Your ultimate goal? To cross the world, to confront monsters and witches and assassins and various other ne’er-do-wells, to avoid traps and thieves, and to eventually reclaim the Crown of Kings for Analand—a powerful artifact that has fallen into the wrong hands.

If this all sounds very cliched-1980s-fantasy-novel, well, remember the source material.

Yet the characters, the dialogue, the scenarios contained therein are so compelling it manages to elevate Sorcery above its base premise. I don’t know how much to attribute to Steve Jackson and how much to the wordsmiths at Inkle, but Sorcery is full of intrigue.

For instance: I came across a cabin, far out in the woods, a day’s walk away from the nearest town. Upon arriving, an old woman smiled at me and asked me to stay for tea. Wary of the fact she might be a witch, I said I’d love tea—but I’d prefer to sit outside. She said that was fine and poured us two cups. We chatted for a while, when she got up to go inside and check on something. Quick as I could, I swapped her cup and mine (which I’d managed to avoid drinking from up until now).

She came back out, I took a sip from my cup and—ack, poison. She laughed, at once both amused and angry that I suspected her of being evil. Then she cured me and sent me on my way.

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!

But if you ever read a choose-your-own-adventure as a kid (or as an adult!), you know part of the fun was keeping your finger pressed between the pages, ready to flip back and take the other option if things didn’t go your way. Inkle actually builds this into Sorcery, allowing you to “Rewind” to any story beat in your adventure and make a different choice—be it because you died or because you simply want to see a different outcome.

I used this feature sparingly, but curiosity did admittedly get the best of me at times. The witch, for instance. Rewinding allowed me to jump back, to see what would have happened had my suspicious nature not got the best of me. As it turns out she...well, maybe I should let you find out for yourself.

 

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