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GDC 2012: Dust off your PlayStation Move, as we go hands-on with Sorcery

It feels like it has been years since Sony first showed off the Move-centric title, Sorcery. Possibly because it has, in fact, been years since Sony first showed off Sorcery. Back in the halcyon days of 2010 at E3, when the Move was still just a twinkle in Sony’s eye, Sorcery was one of the titles being highlighted to demonstrate what the new motion controller could do.

Since then, the game seemed to put on an invisibility cloak and simply disappear, but now the game is back and scheduled for a May release.  And even though the Move may not have electrified the gaming world quite in the way that Sony probably hoped, for those that did pick the controller up, or who are considering it, Sorcery may be the best reason yet.

Developers The Workshop and SCE Santa Monica have created a game that uses the Move to the best of its abilities. In the upcoming Sorcery, you use the Move as a sorcerer’s wand. With it you can attack enemies, switch between several magic types with a simple movement, and solve certain puzzles. The design is such that while you could use a standard controller, it would be a much weaker game. As it is, the game may be the best reason to own a Move.

I had the chance to go hands-on with Sorcery at GDC, and despite my skepticism that stemmed from the almost total disappearance of a game that most initially thought would be either a Move launch title, or at least released shortly thereafter, I was surprised to see how addictive it can be to interact with the game.

You may wonder how a game like Sorcery differs from a Wii title. The fact is that at first glance, it isn’t much different from using a Wii nunchuck, but the control feels more fine tuned, plus the presentation on the PS3 at least looks better than anything the Wii can muster.

Maybe that isn’t enough to persuade those to the cause of the Move, but a fun game is a fun game, and Sorcery definitely has the potential to be that. In the brief demo on display at GDC, you step into the role of a young sorcerer apprentice and head out to slay a few monsters. The details of the story are still somewhat under wraps, leaving the demo to show off the gameplay.

Sorcery plays out mostly as you would expect. With the Move button, you can bring up your spells, and with a quick semi-circular motion, you change from the default projectile attack to an ice based attack. The final game will feature several different magical attacks—six in all–but for now the focus was on combining the ice and projectile attacks. Once the ice was selected, a flick of the Move in the direction of the enemy froze them, while a tap of the Move button reverted the spell to the default. Another quick wrist flick and the enemy shattered. The ice could also be used as a means to freeze water and thus solve puzzles or simply open up new areas as well.

Thankfully, there is a touch of auto-aim, but there will still be a directional requirement. If there is an enemy on a cliff above you, you will need to use a motion in an upward direction, and so on.

The demo also showed a simple puzzle that had you collect the pieces of a shattered seal and with a circular motion, recombine them into a working sigil, which opened a doorway to the area between realms—an M.C. Escher like pathway that defied gravity and linear design. It was a brief interlude between levels, but an interesting design.

While what I saw was just a simple demo, and I plan to reserve judgment until I can spend more time exploring the world of Sorcery when it hits stores, the demo renewed the hope I had int eh game when I first saw it in 2010.

Besides, the game won’t hit shelves until May 22, which should give everyone plenty of time to dig out their Moves and charge them up, for what may be the best reason yet to buy into Sony’s once and future gesture control.

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