After a perilous journey through the Shamutanti Hills in the first Sorcery title, your brave adventurer finally reaches the city of Kharé. Known as the Cityport of Traps you will have to traverse its sprawling streets in order to reach the North Gate and continue your quest for the Crown of Kings. The city and its inhabitants are even more dangerous than the Shamutanti Hills and you will have to tread carefully if you want to have any hope of leaving it alive.
Sorcery! 2 picks up right where the original ended and places you just outside the gates of Kharé. If you have completed and saved your progress in the original game you can transfer all your items over, but don’t expect that this will make things much easier. Kharé is absolutely massive and it truly feels like everything in the city is out to get you. According to inkle this game features more than double the content of the original and after playing through it a few times I am inclined to agree with them.
Unlike the first title where you simply had to reach the end of the story alive, part two challenges you to solve a mystery along the way. You see the North Gate is magically locked and unless you discover the four spell lines needed to open it you might be in for a bit of trouble. I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say that I had to restart the adventure a few times before I came even close to uncovering all the clues. Sorcery! 2 looks and feels just like the original which is not a bad thing as inkle did a great job with the engine and interface. The city environments are definitely more fleshed out than the locations in the first part as you can now enter buildings and explore their zoomed in interiors. Speaking of locations, just because the game is set almost entirely in a single city it doesn’t mean that the variety is lacking. You’ll get to explore the streets, buildings, sewers, spooky mansions, eerie crypts, bustling markets and even a dwarf ghetto to name just a few locations.
Although you can still rewind to any point in the adventure if you manage to mess things up the game can still feel a little unforgiving at times. Thanks to the bewildering amount of choices you get to make it is easy to veer completely off track and end up in quite a few sticky situations. I completed the adventure a total of four times and each time I encountered new locations and scenarios that I haven’t seen in previous runs. This means that the replay value is quite good, but it can be frustrating to miss out on vital items or clues just because you made one wrong choice unknowingly. At one point I discovered that I kept missing an important clue simply because I didn’t have a ration to eat at a specific spot in the city! Thankfully you are given a chance to restart the quest with all your knowledge intact for another chance if you choose not to settle for a slightly less desirable outcome.
Since Kharé is a city of thieves and murderers you’ll have your combat skills tested numerous times during your adventure. Like the first part combat is decided not by dice, but by choosing the strength of each attack. The game has more than thirty different enemies to defeat, but some might require some magical help to even the odds in your favor. The magic system is also the same with spells cast by selecting three letter combinations. Some spells require specific items to use and all spells decreases your stamina, so you’ll have to decide when it is most advantageous to do so.
The game can be played in either landscape or portrait mode, but the latter is best for experiencing the original artwork by John Blanche. A new addition to the game is the inclusion of a mini-game called Swindlestones which can be played against the inhabitants of the city. It involves four sided dice and plenty of bluffing, but definitely adds some fun and variety to the quest. The storyline is very engrossing and despite the vast amount of text to read never becomes boring. There is just so much to see and do in each location that it truly feels like you are playing a classic pen and paper role playing game at times. Despite the age of the original story it still feels very fresh and imaginative. Like the first part there is no speech, but the audio is very good and never becomes grating or distracting.
If you played the first installment you’ll definitely want to check out part two in order to continue the gripping story. It definitely feels like the odds are stacked way more against you in this game, I was even killed by grass at one point for daring to climb over an intriguing looking fence, but the rewind feature prevents things from becoming frustrating. Overall, inkle once again did a great job with turning the original book into a digital adventure and I can wholeheartedly recommend this chapter.