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.

Comments are closed.


12 Author Replies

  • @49 YungShep, Thanks!! I’ll have to check that out and get to work.

  • The world and main character look LOTS better. If only it had released earlier (playing like this), and if only the Move had more game like this, it could have been a very different story.

  • Finally!! :)


  • Kinda reminds me of Folklore meets Azurik meets Kameo.

  • The game looks beautiful, I love the new direction you guys took, SOLD! 8)

  • Looks far more interesting then my first impression. BTW, for the developers of the blog.. any status update on the US app? Android app IOS app? The EU one is insanely sexy.

  • How good is the AI? I hope the game isn’t too easy, like keep walking backwards while firing spells until the enemy dies.

    Will the enemies actually try to flank you from different angles and try to sidestep your magic?

    Because I noticed one enemy in the trailer that runs at you straight forward and completely ignores the magic being shot in his face.

  • Please say multiplayer!!!

  • STOP STOP the motion gaming gimmick is over, if i want to stand up and move i’ll go outside and run or play basketball or golf, all these sports are real……

  • Liked what i saw before, love what I see now!

  • This looks great. I’m so glad it wasn’t just a tech demo/cancelled. The new art direction has me excited although I wouldn’t have minded either one. Great news I hope the game will be good because it definitely looks like it. Also, I like that the idea is to let you play how you want which seemed to be the initial promise of Move and while we’ve seen games targeted at older audiences give you a Move option, we haven’t seen any games specifically made for Move that target us, so yeah. I’m tentatively excited.

  • Hey Sid, do you know something about the tracking of ours PSMove? I mean, I get it, but this NEED to be FREE and FAST. And he·$& yeah, the PSMove can do that.
    We need to prove that the PSMove is the real new interface in terms of motion sensor…

    All my support to you guys!

    See you.

    Eager Snake.

  • Wow This Game Looks AMAZING …….. The Reason I Bought The Playstation Move In September Was To Be Ready To Play This Game and Over The Year I Was Starting To Think It Had Got Cancelled But Now I AM SO EXCITED !!!!! Thanks For The Interview !!

  • YESSSS!! SO excited! Day 1 purchase Loved it at E3! Finally something hardcore other than Killzone 3, Socom 4, Resistance 3, and Fight Lights Out.


  • I was sold on the concept when it looked liked Spyro … Now it really rocks!

  • I liked the previous design, but I like this as well. I’m glad they’re taking their time to get it right. I wish the same had been done to make Heroes on the Move an actual action game, instead of mini-games. Yes, I’ll refer to it by that until the day I die, because the new name is so lame. The game is fun, but it pales in comparison to what it could have been.

  • According to the interview the game is “open ended”; and yet IGN says they were told that the game is 5-6 hours long. Someone would expect a game a bit longer (12-15hrs) if it is open ended. In the end if it is a good game I suppose it doesn’t matter; but if it is possible, can you make it longer? please :).

  • Looks really good.
    Sucks that its just for Playstation Move, not really in to all that moving when i just wanna sit and relax.

  • see that boss looking guy (the giant one)

    He used to be an adventurer like you. But then he took an arrow to the knee( i know old joke) AND IT’S STILL THERE!

  • That’s cool but whatever happen to Eyedentify ? =[

  • Wow, this looks completely different.

  • sid do you think that they will ahve a youtube app for ps3 and we want it in 1080p because youtube to most people is like a tv show

  • Wow. I’m impressed with this game. It’s clear there was alot of working going on behind the scenes that people didn’t know about. This is a must have title for Move owners.

    There is a bundle coming right?

  • So if you have 7 spells by the end and assume that All of them can be combined 2 at a time, that makes 21 different combos and 28 overall if you include the original 7spells on their own. 28 is pretty hefty on top of the 56 potions. Already liking the depth currently presented. Been waiting to hear about this for forever. Glad they took the buzz from E3 and realized this should be bigger in scope if they hope to achieve the grandiosity people had in their minds when they saw the original demo. Keeping fingers crossed that this is a worthwhile endeavor.

    Good luck fellas.

  • This looks awesome. I’ve been dying to play this since it was first introduced at E3.

    2012 is looking like another great year for the playstation gamer.

  • Aww this game look awesome but i don’t like motion gaming so i think i will have to pass on this game :(
    Unleast we can also play with a normal controller.

  • yup. ditch the move controller only thinking. That’s a huge betamax marketing-esque mistake. While my daughter may play move games, I will not, and I control the funds that buy games. Push the game back another year, add controller ability and bump up the graphics they’re a little too commodore 64.

  • FINALLY. All that needs to be said, really.

  • This is fantastic, and I mean FANTASTIC news! I’ve been waiting to bust out the Move and play this ever since that E3 premiere. Looks like you definitely vamped it up.

    A simple question is all I’m wondering: Will this be in 3D?

  • I have to be honest… on the E2010 show, it was this game that impelled me to buy Move controllers but I can that there´s still no game that have lived up to my expectations. Champion Sport is fun but lacks depth, Killzone wasn´t the best experience with Move fun but not on par with the controls responsiveness of the tradicional controller, so any other players with it would easily beat you on the Move.

    Now this seems to finally justify my purchase… I hope. Thou 6 hours only? Why so shallow? Why cant you build a Skyrim type game?

    In any case this was the best Christmas announcement so far for me of the next gaming year. Here´s to hoping that this game will catapult Move development into higher heights.

  • Looks great i have waiting a game like this for a long time, a most buy game

  • I held off of picking up the Move but now with this I think it’s time to get one! Looks killer and speaks to the inner magic user in me.

  • To be quite honest, I was a bit concerned about the looks of this game.
    I didn’t want it to be another kids game like Medieval Move.

    The graphics of this game and I will buy it.
    Just, I would like to have a PS Move controller and game combo. (no ps eye)
    Why? Cuz I already have 2 cams for 1 controller. And will buy a sharp Shooter making it 3-2 camz per controller.
    I’m not saying not to have a full bundle, but have his bundle for tjoses who biught a move kit already would be nice.

  • i hope it’s good when it comes out.because it can go either way to the extreme

  • This game looks amazing. But really. The main character design is so boring. He dont look cool at all. And besides from what the design director says I think they should have stick with the celtic art style insteed of using several fantasy elements what made the game look like any other fantasy game.

  • I want this so bad!

  • looks like it is going to be a great playstation exclusive franchise

  • Great now the look I was hoping my nieces and nephew would love switched to a God of war kinda vibe, why can’t they release the other version on psn?

  • That said ,this is right up my alley.

  • Glad to see some news on this game finally. It was the main reason I got a move when they came out. Was afraid it got cancelled. Does it still have motions like the drink a potion thing shown at E3?

  • The game is looking very very good. Looking ford to it

  • Awesome Can’t Wait

  • Thank you for not putting it on rails free forum is so much better it seems more open world this way

    will be picking up day 1

  • I had totally forgot about this game, even after buying my Move! Thank you for bringing this awesome looking game to my attention, I’m getting tired of using my Move for FPS only.

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