In our previous coverage of the ongoing four-part Sorcery! series, we talked about how well this award-winning mobile game holds up now that it’s been ported over to the PC platform. We also mentioned the series’ origins in the murky mists of early tabletop role-playing, and the simple yet clever systems employed to properly translate that experience for the modern digital age. Many developers feel that they have to reinvent the wheel (or the perk system) between iterations of the same franchise, but thankfully not Inkle. Instead, they focus on the quality presentation they’ve already brought to the table. Sorcery! Part 3: The Seven Serpents gives you both that, and the same solid gameplay established by Parts 1 and 2.
Having survived both the Shamutanti Hills and the Cityport of Traps in your quest to prevent an ancient crown of power from falling into the grip of an evil Archmage, you now face his elite cadre of monstrously magical assassins: the Seven Serpents. That’s not just a fancy name, either: these are intelligent drakes with specialized attacks and weaknesses. Some are obvious, some will take real work to figure out, and one can’t even be defeated by good old brute force. Information-gathering will be just as important to ultimate victory as having a good sword or a handy spellbook.
Then there’s the Baklands themselves, mage-blasted lands where food can be as much a quest item as anything else. Virtually everyone else you’ll meet is finding it just as hard to survive in these barren wastes, making diplomatic efforts at conflict resolution trickier. And since rest doesn’t properly heal you when you’re starving, you’ll find it difficult to stay in top condition for the many fights ahead.
Beyond simple survival, there’s also the matter of finding the secret ways over, under, across and around formidable geographic obstacles… not to mention time itself. Because the Archmage’s ancient curse has intertwined the threads of history’s loom, you’ll be doing quite a lot of time-travel backtracking in pursuit of the Seven Serpents, as well as important plot points. Otherwise you’ll be stuck forever wandering in circles, just like everyone else trapped in the Baklands with you.
As before, you can use the Rewind tool at any time to back the story up and try something different, which you’ll probably be doing a lot of here. It’s not that this episode is particularly unfair – few good adventures aren’t – but there is a lot of territory to explore, the clock is always ticking, and how long you spend getting through the Baklands will affect the how things go in the fourth and final episode. Likewise, some of the Seven Serpents possess information which will eventually be valuable to you, if you can wrangle it out of them. There is a sharp balance between seeing and obtaining as much as you can, and maintaining as brisk a pace as possible.
To that end, there’s always the option of ignoring some (or all) of the Serpents on your way to the Archmage’s capital of Mampang. But being as that they’re written to fulfill essentially the same role as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Nazgul, with the Archmage as Sauron, it’s not recommended you give these boss-battles a pass. Five’ll get you ten they show up later, and they’ll probably be much more powerful if you don’t knock them off now. You’ll even get a warning message at the very end, if you’ve left any alive behind you.
Either way you choose to play it, Sorcery! continues to be fun, intriguing, and well worth the price of admission.
Sorcery! Part 3 was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
Almost as good as Parts 1 & 2, Part 3 suffers from having the player run around in circles quite a bit. That's by design, but it does allow late-game fatigue to develop.