In some games, the story is the backdrop, a means to get you from one action setpiece to another. In other games, the story is so deeply integrated into the action that it’s hard to imagine one without the other. In Sorcery 2, the latest choose-your-own-adventure storybook game from Steve Jackson, the story is the whole point of the game.
Occasionally you’ll fight monsters and cast spells, but in Sorcery 2 the story and choices you make are paramount. How well you pay attention to the details of the plot will determine how much you succeed.
Sorcery 2 picks up right where the first game left off, with you standing outside the gates of Khare, The City of Traps, in your quest to save your kingdom. The city setting presents an entirely different set of challenges for you, and while the first game was much more about being in a constant fight or flight mode, part two is much more about stealth, exploration, and the discovery of secrets.
Virtually every nook and cranny in Khare’s vast landscape presents you with a series of choices to make, a new friend or foe to meet, and possibly a new piece of the puzzle in the mystery that surrounds the intimidating city.
Sorcery 2 isn’t doing anything radically different from the first game (though starting a new game allows you to play as a female character if you want), but if you played and enjoyed the first game, then you probably didn’t want much to change anyway. One difference is that there seems to be much more for you to do. You have many more choices to make and paths to take than you did in the first game, and since Khare is a massive, bustling city, there are lots of interesting characters and creatures for you to meet and interact with.
The game is still rather short (you can plow right through it in just a couple of hours), but you can easily extend the life of the game by checking around every dark corner, examining all of the mysterious houses and buildings you come across, and chatting with the city dwellers that you encounter. There’s even a dice minigame you can play if certain characters challenge you. All of these little things do so much to draw you into the strange and wonderful world that’s been created that you’re almost cheating yourself if you don’t wander around to see what the city has in store for you.
There is combat, but confrontations seem to be few and far between, and just like in the first game, battles are quick and dirty, and not overly complicated.
The only real knock against the game is the same one I had with the first one, and that’s with the game’s befuddling magic system. It still doesn’t seem to make much sense, and I’m constantly scratching my head trying to figure out why I have access to some spells and not others at any given time, or why the game will occasionally prompt me to use magic in a certain situation when I have nothing available to me that would be of any help.
Other than the brisk pace of the game and the continuing annoyance of its magic system, Sorcery 2 is an amazing and magical adventure for you to take on. If you take the time to explore it, you’ll be treated to a rich and fulfilling experience, and wish you didn’t have to wait so long for the next chapter.