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Fantastic gamebook adaptation, July 24, 2018
I wasn't blown away by the first Sorcery! That game hewed very closely to the standard gamebook format: you traverse a garden of forking paths by making unmotivated choices ("go left or go right") towards a predestined end. To its credit, it managed to be quite a bit more merciful than the original books while keeping the charm of such adventures intact; but all in all, it wasn't precisely a shining example of game design. I hesitated for a bit about whether I wanted to buy the second part as well. I'm very happy I did.
On the surface, Sorcery! 2 looks a lot like the first game. Combat works in the same way, there is still the same rather cumbersome magic system, and you still drag your character across a nicely drawn map. This time, the map is a of a city and we also get maps of the interiors of buildings and even of a sewer system; but that alone need not make a major difference.
In other ways, however, Sorcery! 2 differs markedly from its predecessor. Most importantly, instead of the uninspiring quest of getting to the other side of the map, we are now tasked with finding four missing nobles, each of whom knows one line of a crucial spell. Successfully completing this mission requires the accumulation of many hints and clues which allow us to slowly understand what is happening in the city. Combined with a game mechanic -- I won't spoil it -- that allows the player to traverse the city almost at liberty, what we have is much less a traditional gamebook structure and much more an interactive investigation in which the player can make informed choices about where to go next. The plot is good; the sense of discovery is real; and finding all the clues feels very satisfying.
It also helps that the game is much, much bigger than the first game. I assume that the makers felt more free to take liberties with the source material, because there is no way all this content could have fitted into the original book. There is so much to discover, there are so many pieces of the story to fit together, and there are so many opportunities to just have fun in the game (including by challenging people to play the excellent little mini-game Swindlestones), that Sorcery! 2 will keep you busy for quite some time.
To a certain extent, the aims of the game are limited. This is still very much a sword&sorcery fantasy yarn with much emphasis on plot and adventure and very little on emotional or philosophical depth. But I find it hard to imagine a game that would more successfully combine the sensibilities of a fantasy gamebook with those of the modern player. Coupled with my intense enjoyment of the experience, that leads to a 5-star rating. Highly recommended.