Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: No Gravity Games
Developer: inkle
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

The folks at inkle are pretty great at what they do. This is obvious not just from games like 80 Days and Overboard! ? both of which are some of the best, most inventive adventure games you?re ever likely to come across ? but also from arguably their worst game, Heaven?s Vault, which was still incredibly innovative and engaging.

And now we get to see that point proved again thanks to Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! ? though, technically, it proved how great inkle are before any of those other games, since its first two episodes (out of a total of four) were initially released before 80 Days. So if you want to nitpick, it might be more accurate to say that this game is a reminder that inkle have been releasing some outstanding games for the better part of a decade.

Regardless of how you want to look at Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!, though, one thing is certain: it?s an incredible take on the Choose Your Own Adventure formula ? perhaps because it nails the feeling of a CYOA book so perfectly.

By this, I mean that it goes beyond just having branching paths ? plenty of visual novels have those. Rather, the paths feel like the sorts of things you?d have found in a CYOA book. You have the clearly dead end paths that lead to deaths you can see coming a mile away, yet you can?t turn away. You have the sudden deaths out of nowhere. You have the lucky twists where things turn out differently, and you don?t die. (Note: Choose Your Own Adventure had a crazy amount of deaths for what were supposed to be children?s books!) And, of course, you the improbable paths that keep the story going ? which, in this case, is a pretty long path, since it carries you through all four parts of the book.

What sets Sorcery! apart, though, is that it takes advantage of its format to make itself feel more modern. At one level, this means you get things like fights and magic spells. I don?t know if either add that much to the game, but they certainly add an interesting (if occasionally frustrating) twist. More importantly, you also have the power to rewind the game back to whatever decision point you want ? very handy, if you were the sort of kid you kept your thumb on one page while you check out what fates befall you on different paths.

And, of course, there?s this: much like Choose Your Own Adventure books could be reread over and over again as you tried to find all the different paths, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is the kind of game you can play over and over again as you try to uncover all the different twists and turns you missed the first few times around (and given the sheer number of possibly story combinations, you?ll need to play through the game several times and several ways to see everything). Much like inkle?s other, later games, Sorcery! is highly replayable and an essential experience for anyone who?s even kind of interested in adventure games.

No Gravity Games provided us with a Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A