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A difficult, highly nonlinear swords and sorcery game with days of content, January 17, 2016
It is rare to find a CYOA text game that combines a hundreds of thousands of words, extreme branching, a complex inventory and spell collection, 3d graphics, and orchestral music. The fact that it features a compelling narrative, unique gameplay mechanics, and at least a hundred npcs and monsters just makes it better.
Sorcery! 3 is part 3 in a series, but it is definitely not necessary to play the other games first. In fact, the game is easier if you play it alone.
You are a sorceror, who casts spells by combining lettered stars that differ from location to location. For instance, to command unintelligent creatures, you must stand where the stars allow you to spell L-A-W. Some spells also require certain inventory items, such as a gold-backed mirror.
You also can engage with creatures using a variety of swords and other weapons, as well as gambling with dice. Combat requires strategy, as you want to hit hard when the enemy leaves themselves open without expending your energy.
The game includes both ink illustrations and 3d maps. You move a figurine about a gorgeous 3d map from checkpoint to checkpoint. This could all be handled by hyperlinks, but the movement provides more variety. The game includes special beacons which have a unique mechanic with a gorgeous 3d effect.
You play a sorceror from Analand who must hunt down 7 serpents who seek to expose you to the Archmage, a powerful enemy. The serpents range from the relatively weak to the gut-wrenchig Serpent of Time. Few text game can give you that feeling of total despair that you can have meeting a boss, but this one succeeds.
In your quest, you will meet several sorcerors, magicians, thieves, tribes, and monsters. Conversations are difficult to lawnmower, which is a plus. You can negotiate, threaten, help, and so on.
The game is extremely nonlinear and branches strongly. There is one event at the fissure in the first area that I have tried to recreate over and over again and never succeeded. Whole quests, relationships, even a marriage to an NPC can be skipped or missed. Most serpents can be destroyed in two or more ways.
It took me most of a week playing 2-3 hours a day to beat. I restarted 3 or 4 times once I got a hang of it. There are some basic ideas that if you miss can make the game much more difficult.
I plan on nominating this game for the XYZZY for Best Game of 2015.