Paper Sorcerer
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 7

First-person role-playing games can be notoriously grindy, but Paper Sorcerer manages to deliver an old-school experience without any of the tedium. The visuals are stunning, the writing witty, and the bite-sized levels kept us coming back for more. The game is even more impressive considering that it is the work of basically one person, and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Gameplay: Paper Sorcer offers old-school first-person RPG action without the grinding.

Graphics: The game features beautiful hand-drawn and inked visuals.

Sound: The soundtrack is great but might not appeal to everyone

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Paper Sorcerer

Developer: Jesse Gallagher | Publisher: Ultra Runaway Games | Release Date: 2013| Genre: Indie / RPG | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

Like so many role-playing games before it, Paper Sorcerer features a villainous sorcerer terrorizing the lands before being defeated by a party of brave heroes. The heroes seal the sorcerer away in a magical tome that serves as a prison for evil-doers, and peace returns to the world. The bad news is that your character is the sorcerer, and it is now up to you to find a way out of the supernatural prison.

We are huge fans of role-playing games, partly due to the vast number of books in the “Choose your own adventure” style we read in our youth. We used to spend hours engrossed in the latest “Lone Wolf” adventures, which were brought to life by Gary Chalk’s drawings. This made Paper Sorcerer, with its hand-drawn sprites and stylish monochrome visuals that simulate the pages of a book, especially appealing to us.

Paper Sorcerer is a first-person role-playing game that pays homage to the genre’s classics but without all the unnecessary grinding. It is a single-player game, but you get to recruit up to three party members to aid you in your escape from the magical book. As your character is a sorcerer, your party members take the form of minions such as a skeleton, vampire, ghost, werewolf, or Minotaur that you summon. This also means that most of your opponents are the guards and other do-gooders who have been tasked with keeping you imprisoned.

Your overall goal is to defeat your captors and undo the bindings of the book in order to escape, but with some careful exploration, you will also reveal a deeper storyline. We won’t spoil anything, but suffice it to say it’s pretty good and quite original. Paper Sorcerer is the result of a very successful Kickstarter that more than doubled its modest goals, and surprisingly enough, for such an ambitious title, it has been created almost entirely by one person.

What we liked about Paper Sorcerer is that while there is no map feature, levels are generally small enough that it’s hard to get lost. Encounters are, for the most part, not random either, and a black mist represents enemies. You can’t see what you are fighting until you walk into the mist, and once you engage in battle, it is to the death as there is no escape button, but it’s still better than endless random encounters. Occasionally, enemies will “sneak up” on you and initiate combat, but this is the exception rather than the norm. If you yearn for random encounters to boost your levels, you can always explore the optional catacomb levels that are unlocked by locating souls hiding throughout the normal dungeons.

The game has ten dungeons, and each one, apart from the final dungeon, has three levels and a boss encounter to complete before you can access the next. You can save at any time and return to town to rest and recover (except during battles), so the game isn’t too hard, but it definitely requires some skill. Combat is turn-based and takes place on a separate screen where you use menu commands to engage the enemy. The game uses a unique combat system where skills require energy, and you must use strategy to win battles. Our party consisted of a Minotaur to deal heavy damage, a vampire using his own health to heal the party, and a ghost casting buffs and debuffs while our sorcerer wielded elemental magic. Even on the “Normal” mode, some fights were challenging, and for the old school players, there is a “1980s” difficulty setting to really test their skills.

The visuals are definitely the most striking aspect of the game and have been hand-drawn and inked by the developer. You have free movement in the dungeon, and the monochrome visuals really pop out due to the line art and deep shadows. Players who grew up with early first-person role-playing games will appreciate what the developer achieved with the visuals. Exploring the dungeons, solving puzzles, and searching for secret walls and rooms is really addictive, and despite spending close to thirteen hours on the game, we never found ourselves bored.

We enjoyed the soundtrack and found some of the tunes quite catchy, but not everyone will appreciate the music. There is no voice acting, but this is hardly surprising considering the small budget the developer had to work with. The writing is very good, however, and contains a lot of humor. We found ourselves looking forward to returning to the sanctuary town after each boss battle just to see what crazy antics the zombie shopkeeper was up to in order to promote his new wares. The ending is also rather brilliant and almost tempted us into another playthrough with different party members. The controls work fine for the most part, but the menu-driven interface can be a bit of a hassle to navigate at times, especially when equipping party members. It would have been nice for a title so reliant on menu navigation if the interface had been more streamlined and intuitive. Achievement hunters and card collectors will be pleased to know that this game supports both features.

Despite some minor issues, we thoroughly enjoyed Paper Sorcerer. We can heartily recommend it to RPG fans, especially as it has a ridiculously low price tag, considering the amount of content. The game hooked us from start to finish, and we constantly played “just one more” level. However, it is quite a niche game, so be sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: Pentium 4 1300 MHz 1.3 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Geforce2 MX 400 64/128-bit SDR, 64-bit DDR or better
  • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: Pentium 4 1300 MHz 1.3 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Geforce2 MX 400 64/128-bit SDR, 64-bit DDR or better
  • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space

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