I enjoyed the first Sorcery! game because everything you did felt inconsequential. All the money and magical items and spells were neat, the various people and creatures you met along the way were fascinating, but all were still inconsequential. It was a freeing experience, being able to play in the moment, without any care for future events. If that first game was defined by this kind of narrative freedom, the second game is defined by a restriction of that freedom. Suddenly, consequences matter. Not in a major way, but just enough to focus your play, which is both good and bad.
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We Become What We Behold is a non-partisan game about politics, which is hard to imagine in such a currently divisive American and European political landscape. This is exactly the point of We Become What We Behold, though, examining the horror of the viral nature of divisiveness and tribalism.
The game begins simply enough, asking its player to watch and then photograph a small group of randomly wandering individuals. Photographing “interesting” things results in a hashtagged photograph that ostensibly goes viral enough to affect parts of the group. If we photograph the one “interesting” person who has chosen to wear a hat when no one else is doing so, this results in others adopting the look. In other words, hats become cool for some people, and they join the hat tribe.
It’s back to the ‘80s with Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!. This week we consider how a game book fares as a video game.
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a weird hodgepodge of a game. It’s a text-based adventure in that most of what you do and see is described in the text, but you also control a little figure of your character, moving it around a beautifully colored 3D map of the landscape, evoking the feel of a board game. It’s a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game, but you also have an inventory of items, including gold for buying stuff and rations you need to eat to survive. It’s like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, interactive fiction, fantasy RPG with great graphics. It’s also the first game in a series of four. I own all four games (they have their dedicated row on the home screen of my phone), but even though I’ve owned them all for about six months now, I can’t move on from the first game. Thankfully, it’s not a matter of difficulty, but of desire: Sorcery has one of the best branching stories I’ve ever played, and I don’t want to move on until I’ve seen all its branches.
I own hundreds of games. I mean, hundreds.
I have two big bureau drawers full of physical copies of console games, I have boxes of old PC ROMs, and I, of course, like many gamers, have a ludicrously long list of games in my Steam library.