Sorcery! Fighting Fantasy! And heck of a nostalgia trip!

I see little discussion or comment in this forum about Sorcery!, and of course I understand why. You need an iOS device to run it, it’s not free, and it’s not strictly speaking IF. The first one is a very real obstacle for many people, the second may make some people go “Meh, I can play Kerkerkruip free…”, the third might take it out of consideration from this forum altogether.

So, having just started to play, I’d like to take a moment to raise awareness of the game. Ingold has done a marvellous marketing job to be sure, and doesn’t need my help, but I though I might as well kick the ball because, well, haven’t we been on and on and on about bringing IF to a wider audience? That’s what Inkle is doing, and, true to Ingold’s form as shown in “A Colder Light”, the CYOA format (or, to be more precise, the Fighting Fantasy format) is designed in such as way as to appear choice-based IF, rather than CYOA.

It’s a bit of a nightmare for completionists such as myself, as many paths are mutually exclusive, but the game is extremely friendly. You are welcome to retry battles, and to undo to previous nodes. You have many options at any given time, multiplied manifold by a spell system that, like “Sorcerer” and unlike “Enchanter”, really makes you feel as though you have mastery of arcane forces and can change the world as you see fit, and as the stars dictate.

But what I appreciate most of all is the sheer narrative vale, and how close it is to the old Fighting Fantasy books. I used to have the almost entire collection, and this brings it all back. Design and prose are just the way I remember it, and nostalgia aside, this game uses the CYOA format to its fullest potential. I have seen great CYOA games, some that moved me, some that intrigued me, but if the best of those was a Mozart masterpiece for the piano, which only uses part of the instrument, then this game is a Liszt waltz, utilizing the intrument to its fullest capacity and then some.

Bravo, Inkle, first and foremost, for a great trip through the years. Second and secondmost, for expanding IF, making it popular again, reaching wider audiences who would otherwise not give Zarf’s apps on the iPhone a second glance (and still might not, because they might not realise the similarities, but one step at a time, they are PLAYING the thing). And finally for taking CYOA to a new level.

Also, kudos for the combat system. It forces the player to try and stay one step ahead of the enemy, watching him carefully, drawing one’s own conclusions and acting accordingly.

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Interesting Peter, thanks for the rundown. You got two out of three right as to my reasons for not immediately leaping into it. I don’t have an up-to-date iOS device, and the one I have, I hate; plus I am pretty broke all the time and do not have a credit card and do not casually go around buying iTunes cards, so what people think of as a ‘casual App Store’ purchase is really anything but – even if it costs a single penny, unless the idea of the game has taken hold of my brain and won’t let go, I am very unlikely to purchase any game off the App Store due simply to the structural obstacles Apple has seen fit to place in my path.

I am not so broke that I can’t casually spend a few bucks, but I am too broke to have credit cards or to be buying iTunes cards to top up my account ‘just in case’. In fact despite owning my iPhone for about four years, I have literally never purchased (nor pirated!) a single app. I am perfectly willing to spend casually – this is just a logistics fail, and people who release software exclusively for pay through credit card driven app stores should understand why they will likely never get my business even if they charge one cent.

For someone with a credit card and no antipathy toward their phone, everything I am saying here probably sounds ridiculous, but it is really too bad that indie gamers are being lured into what is essentially an upscale market that is really inappropriate to both the idea of ‘indie’ and the realities of what sorts of people tend to flock to niche art scenes. This is a gentrification.

But there is also a fourth reason you overlooked – I already played these books! In paper form. So that just drastically undercuts my desire to navigate the above obstacles.

I wish Jon and the games, nevertheless, all success. Fighting Fantasy has always been one of my favourite things.

I actually agree, the iOS is pretty much a closed platform, but I can understand the portability and technological allure. I just hope a less closed format will come from Inkle some day.

I would just like to point out that there are ways to create a virtual credit card and use that for payment. It would depend, of course, on whether you trust the service - in my case, it’s a service offered by my bank, so I trust it. Makes things a lot easier, 'cause I don’t have a credit card either, nor the wish to have one.

I’m certainly interested in this, but have zero interest in buying an iOS device to run it. Until such time as there’s a way of getting it to run on my Windows PC, or better yet my Kindle, I won’t be bothering with it.

Laraquod, just to let you know you can link a normal bank account to your apple ID rather than a credit card. As it happens, I only own an iPad because I won it, and to be frank it’s a really neat toy but there’s no way I’d actually pay what Apple ask for one.

They’re doing bank accounts, now? At the beginning they didn’t even have iTunes cards I could get my hands on, it was just credit card only, at least in Canada. By the time I heard about the iTunes cards I had stopped caring, and now even with the banking thing it is far past too late since I’ve already got a Nexus 7 and have transitioned much of my ordinary keyboard-heavy activity to my Ubuntu netbook.

So yeah, thanks for the tip, but with luck, giving Apple my banking info will be a process I can entirely avoid on my way out of an ecosystem in which I’ve felt like a 2nd-class citizen for a long time and in many ways.

Can’t you get a debit card?