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Review

Review: Sorcery Saga – Curse of the Great Curry God

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Ear­lier this year, Ghost­light brought the rather bad Ome­ga Quin­tet to PC. The game’s many issu­es were fur­ther exa­cer­ba­ted by the per­for­mance issu­es the port intro­du­ced. Sorce­ry Saga: Cur­se of the Gre­at Cur­ry God mana­ges to make a more posi­ti­ve impres­si­on on its move from the Play­Sta­ti­on Vita to the PC, but it’s still not wit­hout it’s sha­re of pro­blems.

Sorce­ry Saga’s sto­ry is fair­ly basic, though the cur­ry the­me does at least make it a litt­le more inte­res­ting. Pupu­ru, a young cur­ry loving stu­dent, dis­co­vers that her favou­rite cur­ry shop is losing custo­mers to new and far lar­ger store. She deci­des that the only way to save the shop is to find ingre­dients nee­ded to crea­te the legen­da­ry magic cur­ry. The sto­ry is ser­vice­ab­le, but doesn’t real­ly go far enough with the cur­ry the­me. Any men­ti­on of cur­ry could be repla­ced with some­thing more gene­ric and the sto­ry would be pret­ty much the same. Even igno­ring the lack of focus on the main the­me, each cha­rac­ter has litt­le to no deve­lop­ment during the sto­ry. What you see when you first meet a cha­rac­ter is likely the way they’ll still be acting by the time the credits roll. This extends to the come­dy, which is OK to start with, but the novel­ty quick­ly wears off once you rea­li­se that you’re going to be sub­jec­ted to the same jokes every cuts­ce­ne.

Sorce­ry Saga is one of the simp­lest rogue­likes we’ve play­ed, with many of the genre’s usu­al mecha­nics sim­pli­fied or remo­ved out­right. Like most rogue­likes, each floor of a dun­ge­on is ran­dom­ly gene­ra­ted though this doesn’t lead to much real varie­ty. Floors are rather bland sin­ce the­re are only two types of dun­ge­on tem­pla­tes: Out­door are­as are made up of a few lar­ge rooms, while indoor are­as fea­ture a lot of smal­ler rooms. Dun­ge­on the­mes don’t fare much bet­ter, as most are­as are litt­le more than boring woods and caves. After clea­ring the first main area, we had pret­ty much seen ever­ything the game had to offer when it came to dun­ge­on design.

Kuu, Pupuru’s etern­al­ly hungry pet mons­ter, is one area whe­re the deve­lo­pers have deci­ded to sim­pli­fy a typi­cal rogue­like fea­ture for the wor­se. Ins­tead of Pupu­ru having a satu­ra­ti­on meter that needs to be fil­led to stop her from losing health, Kuu has a satu­ra­ti­on meter ins­tead. He eats liter­al­ly any item you throw at him, though some items will cau­se the meter to go down ins­tead. If the meter runs out, you can­not move to the next floor until Kuu is fed again. The pro­blem here is that it’s so easy to feed Kuu that this mecha­nic has almost no real effect on game­play, though this is not the only area whe­re this is an issue.

We men­tio­ned at the start of the review that Sorce­ry Saga doesn’t go far enough with its cur­ry the­me. Well, the­re was at least an attempt to use cur­ry as a game mecha­nic. When explo­ring the world’s various dun­ge­ons, Pupu­ru can collect ingre­dients for making cur­ry. Reci­pes are unlo­cked by brin­ging new ingre­dients to the cur­ry shop, which can then be used out in the field. Each cur­ry has its own bene­fi­ci­al effec­ts, and the qua­li­ty of the dish deter­mi­nes how long it lasts. The cur­ry coo­king sys­tem is the­ma­ti­cal­ly appro­pria­te, but it suf­fers from the same pro­blem as the rest of the game: The effect it has on game­play is so minis­cu­le that there’s litt­le rea­son to use it. Cur­ry qua­li­ty is see­min­gly deter­mi­ned by the ingre­dients you use, but there’s no way to know how good an ingre­dient is wit­hout tri­al and error. Even if you hap­pen to make some­thing good, the buffs you can get are weak enough to make coo­king not worth the effort.

While both of the­se pre­vious sys­tems were poor­ly thought out, neit­her of them are what tru­ly ruin Sorce­ry Saga’s over­all com­ple­xi­ty. It’s the gear upgrade sys­tem that turns what could have been a bland but ser­vice­ab­le rogue­like into a com­ple­te cake­walk. Levels do not car­ry over bet­ween dun­ge­on runs, but Pupuru’s equip­ment and items do. Equip­ment con­sists of wea­pons and armour, that can be upgraded in town or with one of Kuu’s ran­dom abi­li­ties. The only requi­re­ments for upgra­ding equip­ment is that you have to use equip­ment of the same type (i.e. a sword to upgrade ano­t­her sword) and a small mone­ta­ry fee. This means that even the weakest equip­ment in the game can beco­me extre­me­ly over­powe­red in a short amount of time, thanks to the abundance of money and items in dun­ge­ons.

By the end of the second dun­ge­on our equip­ment was alrea­dy strong enough to kill the bos­ses in two hits max, while regu­lar enemies were bare­ly doing any dama­ge. If equip­ment was more cost­ly to upgrade, or you had to use bet­ter items as the level of your gear increa­ses, the game could have had some sem­blan­ce of balan­ce. But wit­hout any real restric­tions in place, this sys­tem ruins any sort of chal­len­ge Sorce­ry Saga could pro­vi­de. A side affect of this is that an alrea­dy short game beco­mes even fas­ter to com­ple­te, the main sto­ry taking rough­ly 6 hours from start to finish. The­re is an extre­me­ly long bonus dun­ge­on after you defeat the final boss, but it does not­hing to fix the game’s inherent dif­fi­cul­ty pro­blems.

At least the port its­elf doesn’t suf­fer from any major issu­es, run­ning far bet­ter than the ori­gi­nal Vita ver­si­on ever did. Like many of Com­pi­le Heart’s games, the Vita release ran vary poor­ly and had trou­ble hit­ting even 30 fps. Sorce­ry Saga uses char­ming but simp­le 3D models, so the PC release easi­ly mana­ges to stay at 60 fps with no stut­te­ring unli­ke Dark Rose Val­ky­rie and the afo­re­men­tio­ned Ome­ga Quin­tet. Gra­phics opti­ons are scar­ce, though this is par for the cour­se when it comes to Ghost­light PC ports.

Conclusion

Sorce­ry Saga’s nume­rous balan­ce issu­es make each dun­ge­on laug­ha­ble easy, and I was quick­ly losing inte­rest after only a few hours. Only give the game a try if you’re an abso­lu­te novice when it comes to rogue­likes, other­wi­se you’ll just end up disap­poin­ted.

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