Hands-on: Sorcery Casts a Spell on PlayStation Move This Spring

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Hands-on: Sorcery Casts a Spell on PlayStation Move This Spring

One of the more memorable action games I’ve played this year is a game uses the PlayStation Move motion controller to paint a symphony of destruction. Last seen at the E3 2010 PlayStation press conference, Sorcery captured the imaginations of PS3 owners while remaining tantalizingly out of reach. At last week’s PlayStation media showcase in New York City, I was finally allowed to go hands-on with Sorcery and speak with its design director, Brian Upton, who stated that the game is on-track to release this spring.

Sorcery is running on a heavily modified version of the Unreal engine, and the art direction has progressed by leaps and bounds since its last showing. The game now skews a bit older, with nastier monster designs and edgier spellcasting combat. Watch the video, read our full Q&A, then let us know what you think of Sorcery in the comments!

PlayStation.Blog: I’ll cut to the chase: Why have we had to wait so long to see Sorcery again?
Brian Upton, design director, Sorcery: Coming out of E3, we knew there were some things we weren’t happy with. We really wanted to re-tool the game’s look, its world. We had the gameplay we wanted, but it just wasn’t ready for public consumption.

PSB: Tell me a bit about the character and quest. What’s changed since the original debut?
BU: The hero is Finn, he’s a sorcerer’s apprentice and a real hothead: he’s always trying to learn things he’s not ready to learn yet. When the game starts, your master’s magical talking cat, Erline, dares Finn into venturing into the realm of the dead. Finn, being the guy he is, can’t resist.

In the realm of the dead, you accidentally unleash something very, very bad. The consequences are dire for you and the entire world, so the quest is to undo the trouble you’ve caused. You also begin to realize the Erline is much more than a magical talking cat: she’s central to the whole problem that you’ve created. You’re cast somewhat in the role of Erline’s protector, you’re trying to get her from the human world to the heart of the faerie world to fix this problem.

Sorcery for PS3: Bogies Fire Wall

PSB: Once I got my hands on Sorcery, I was particularly surprised by the intensity of the combat. What does spellcasting bring to combat?
BU: We noticed that with a lot of motion-controlled games, it works a bit like Simon Says: you’re told to do something and you do it. But that’s not how action games work. Action games let you be creative, to craft your own solutions to the problems you face. So we wanted a game that taught you easy gestures, which became tools that you can use in combat. You can use basic spells in a variety of ways, but you can also layer them on top of each other to create more complex and powerful spell effects.

PSB: I noticed that when I combined the cyclone spell with the fire wall…
BU: Yeah, the Firenado is great. It’s one of the more powerful spells in the game. But there are lots of clever ways to use it: you can pick an enemy up with a cyclone and push it through a campfire to create a Firenado. Or you can cast a fire wall, shoot arcane bolts through it to create fire bolts, and aim them at a whirlwind to suck your enemy in and incinerate him. There’s a whole array of ways to inflict damage in this game.

PSB: Tell me about Sorcery’s approach to motion controls. What’s your philosophy?
BU: We wanted something very accessible, something you can pick up quickly. The very first spell you learn, arcane bolt, is very simple to use because you just flick it forward. It’s like throwing stuff at your enemy. As you keep using it, you start to realize its depth: you can curve bolts and arc bolts around obstacles. When you start using ice magic, you can slow down enemies, or freeze them repeatedly and smash them with another spell.

Sorcery for PS3: Troll

PSB: How do the gesture-based puzzles fit into Sorcery?
BU: We don’t want you fighting all the time, partly because it’s a gesture-based game and you’d get tired. So we try to mix up the intense combat with puzzles to solve. The gestures are pretty simple: You mend things, move them around. It’s less a question of figuring out how to do something; you might see something you can get on top of, and you’ll wonder how you can get up there, what you can rearrange. They aren’t intense brainteasers, but it does change the pace in the overall game.

PSB: I noticed that Sorcery employs an automated camera, a bit like God of War. How does it work and why did you take this approach?
BU: We want to keep it simple: If you have to do camera maintenance all the time, it really sucks. We’re not a shooter, but we do learn a lot of lessons from shooters. In a shooter, on a basic level, you want to establish an interesting shooting gallery and let players be absorbed in it. When you encounter a new group of cameras, the auto-camera will shift to focus on them. It’s a function of trying to streamline the game as much as possible.

PSB: Will there be any RPG elements? Will Finn be able to upgrade his abilities over the course of the game?
BU: There’s an alchemy system. As you travel through the world, you’ll discover magical ingredients and you can use them to research new magical potions. There are roughly 56 magical potions in all, and every time you drink one, it gives you a permanent upgrade. You’ll have about a dozen opportunities to do it, so these potions basically become your build tree, your stats, the way you customize Finn. Do you boost your health or your ice powers? Or maybe make your shield bash more damaging?

Sorcery for PS3: Endless Water

PSB: Is Sorcery a shooter? And if not, what is it?
BU: As a designer, I used a lot of the principles of shooter design. I have a shooter background: I worked on Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. Coming from that shooter background, I learned a lot of lessons about how to build an encounter. But Sorcery is not a shooter. Your fire rate is much lower, you have to deal with Mana limitations, you can curve and arc your shots…we used shooter gameplay as a touchstone, but then we took it way beyond what shooters do.

PSB: Earlier you mentioned a shift in the game’s tone since E3 2010. Could you shed any light on that?
BU: What we showed at E3 was largely organized around a dungeon crawl, and we realized we didn’t want that. We wanted a full-blown fantasy world, not a series of tunnels. A lot of our re-tooling involved moving the action gameplay into a more free-flowing space. The E3 version also had a much younger hero, and the enemies were a lot more cartoonish. We though, “you know, we have a game here that would appeal to a hardcore PlayStation gamer…and it looks a little bit like Spyro!” [laughs] We didn’t want people to get the wrong impression, so we wanted to bring the visuals in-line with the gameplay.

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12 Author Replies

  • Oh yea finally some news! Its gonna be great!

  • Can’t wait!

  • Finally! Haha but really, hadn’t heard anything for awhile and assumed this game was dead. Really glad to see it’s still alive. Looks beautiful and sounds really interesting, definitely happy I have the Move and look forward to seeing this in the future.

  • I really liked the original art style. Still looks fun though

  • I am liking the art direction here; beautiful use of colour. Hopefully the gameplay will match it! Looking forward to this game very much.

  • I love the more mature way the game took

  • They really did change the game alot, but I’m really liking it still! This gamw was supposed to be out last spring but i’m glad its back! Can’t wait to get this game woo!!!

  • launching with barley any software designed for it was yet another bone head move by Sony.

  • Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Consider it bought.


  • Looks pretty cool.

    i wonder if it will be on the ps store or a disc? or both? or maybe just a disc? or maybe just on psn? or maybe a disc first then on ps store? or ps store first then on disc? ive seen that too.

    thank you for your time.

  • def looks interesting

  • Good Call on changing the art style. I was really looking forward to this game with its original announcement and now it looks like it has matured into a must have title. I’ll be snapping this up along side Mass Effect 3.

  • Weird, another page where I can’t watch the vid (again Mac OSX Snow Leopard with latest version of Google Chrome)

    Can’t wait though–really want to play this!

    Where do you guys link your videos from? Are they on the PSB YouTube account?

  • WOoohoooooo! have been waiting so long for some news on this game! finally there are some news and damn they are good! The game looks great and thanks for letting us know that its alive and kicking!

  • Is it just going to be for playstation move?

  • This game is looking good! After the game was revealed at E3 last year, we heard almost nothing more since then, which caused a lot of us to worry. It’s a relief that the veil of secrecy has finally been lifted.

  • @15
    YEs its a PS move only title and there have been some awesome deals on Move hardware these last few weeks. I snapped up two more controllers at 25 dollars each.

  • Love the direction that you took and definitely get that “Fantasy” feeling.
    I also love the overlapping use of magic to create stronger spells.
    Been looking forward to getting this when I saw it debut at E3.
    Will there be a Demo to play before it comes out, just so we can get a taste.

    • No word on a demo, stay tuned closer to launch this Spring. I also enjoyed the spell “combos,” they reminded me a little bit of mixing and matching Plasmids in BioShock and BioShock 2.

  • Been looking forward to this game since last Summer! The game looks great and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  • It looks awsome, I am happy the game ws not cancelled :b
    The art and the moves look really good! ‘m looking forward to this game….

  • As long as it’s not $60 I’ll pick it up on release. If not I’ll wait for a lower price point. As neat as it looks I wouldn’t pay $60 for it.

  • Finally! This was the game that sold me on PS Move. So excited for it’s release now.

  • What about a left handed mode. I don’t know if it’ll be different in action but the character will look strange and might cause a strange disconnect. Thanks.

  • Can you PLEASE make an option to use DualShock 3 controller instead… I’m not really into the motion controller thing but this game looks AMAZING!

    Please consider it! =)

  • Can’t wait to finally play it! This game was a big reason why I bought PS Move.

  • Ooh! That looks puuurdy! How does it handle Sid?

    • It handles very well, the motion gestures are simple but responsive. Here’s a fun detail: when you need to heal, you shake your Move and tilt it upside down to “drink” a health potion. :) Very easy and very fun.

  • Im going to buy a Navigation Unit just to play this game.

    i can’t believe ex-Treyarch employees made it

  • I’m so happy this game is still around. It was the one thing I saw at e3 that really made me want a move, so I’ll definitely be picking up one when Sorcery is released next year. I’m really liking the new look for the character and the game in general.

    Can’t wait <3

  • Wow, that looks really amazing. Between Sly, StarHawk, the Jak collection, Twisted Metal, Last of Us and now this…not to mention the Vita stuff…or third party games like Mass Effect 3 and BioShock Infinite, it is shaping up to be a good 2012. Keep it coming.

  • I like the new direction. I wasn’t a big fan of the cartoonish look at E3 and was the only thing holding me back from considering a purchase. Looking at it now, makes me want it right now!!!

  • Pretty much the main reason I got a move so long ago, and I have to say it continues to look good after all this time. It’s been a long time in coming. :P

  • Finally! This was the reason i got a Move! sure, i’ve enjoyed many of the other Move games, but THIS is exactly the kind of game i want. Thanks for the update Sid!

  • I have pre-order this game right after the E3 demo. I can’t wait to try it out.

  • This is literally THE reason that I bought the Move hardware. I’ve been feeling a bit jaded that this hadn’t come out and there was no news. So this is excellent, they can take their time if they are revamping it like this. After all, I want to play good games. Hopefully this will be the catalyst for more fun, innovative move titles.

  • Convince me not to sell my move…

  • Hearing from this game after all this time certainly does not seem like a good thing.

    • There was a period of extensive retooling and the game has been rethought in some ways, which explains why it’s taken longer than most expected.

  • Looks good. This and rail shooters are the main reason I bought the Move.

  • I have to say Ive only put like 2 hours into my move controllers I bought at launch. This game looks to be one that would help change that. How a bout a game using sword and shield next.

  • according to ign. they heard that this game is gonna be short is that true?. im tired of spending $40 to $60 on short games.

  • About time! Looks really interesting, so worth the wait, I guess. I hope you put out a demo….

  • Finally! I had given up on this & Last Guardian, both teased years ago @ E3. Oh, please don’t suck like the last Harry Potter game that used the Move.

    Had this on pre-order forever. Spring release sounds great; I may have returned from my life in Skyrim by then.

    Thank you, Sid. Now please release some hopeful Last Guardian news.

  • Glad this game is coming out, I really wanted this and the main reason I got a move set up. I wonder however will it be in 3D? I bet this game would look great in it, plus I really want more games for my PS 3D display.

  • Wow this looks really great. Definitely picking it up on day 1, it’ll finally give me a chance to use my playstation move again.

  • This is my most anticipated game for the Move! I’m a day one adopter of the PS Move, and have been waiting for a game that plays like this. Thanks for finally giving us info on the new direction, and release date. Keep up the great work.

    Also, I’m actually a 3D game artist, and gaming enthusiast, and have spent a great deal of time coming up with gameplay ideas/mechanics that really lend themselves to PS move controls. If you could let me know where to direct this information, I’d gladly share it with Sorcery’s game developers, or any other developers that are working on Move titles. Thanks in advance for your reply.

  • This game has me interested but I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that a demo be made available on the PS Store.

  • I really hope this game is as fun as it looks, and long campaign ,without being repetitive.

  • about time…..i just hope its worth the wait

  • ALIAS! YESSSSSS! I STILL KEPT THE MPEG VIDEO FROM E3 2010 JUST TO KEEP WATCHING THE GAMEPLAY VIDEO OF THIS! :) I was stoked since it was announced, and even more stoked now that the art direction has been overhauled! 3D…coughs coughs…

  • @ 44 RenderMonk, theres actually an app in the ps store that you can buy called (MOVE.ME) and it allows for that exact purpose, so if your really really serious, id suggest downloading that app, and get to work! id love to try anything new and innovative with ps move

  • Cant Wait!! Looks Soo Intense And Sooo Much Funn :)

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