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Sorcerer King Review

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Graphics:

I have said before that graphics do not make the game (although they can definitely make a game more enjoyable), especially with 4X and Turn-Based Strategy games. The graphics of Sorcerer King are definitely good and there is largely nothing to take issue with, but it is not some visual masterpiece, just like most others in its genre.

The styling for much of the game is cel-shaded so you cannot say the game is sharp in many places, but it does keep a fantasy feeling to it, which is appropriate. Also, when you zoom out enough, or enable it in the options, the world is rendered as though it were a cloth map, which is neat and can be helpful. Since armies and other entities are identified as icons in this view, it can allow you to quickly analyze the broad situation and respond to incoming threats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under close inspection, the models for units do not look especially detailed, but there is little reason to closely inspect them when you are playing. I am only noticing it now as I am looking at screenshots. Since you do not play the game via screenshots, the models definitely look good enough.

It is not uncommon to be taken away from the usual graphics to portraits. Typically this is because units have initiated some encounter, like visiting a tavern or entering a cave. When this happens, a nicely drawn portrait is brought up along with a bit of story and responses you can give.

Something else that is pretty common is the use of spells, both in combat and on the larger map. These spells are like the graphics overall, in that they do not look spectacular, but still look good and certainly convey the information they are meant to.

I played the game on as high of settings as I could, which means 8x anti-aliasing at my monitor's resolution, with particles and objects to the max; dynamic shadows for everything; and the maximum texture atlas size. That may sound somewhat impressive, but I strongly suspect my system is overkill by far for this. That being said, based on the Steam FPS counter, there were times it dropped below 60 FPS. Watching the action on the screen, I never noticed any such drop. While I am not going to doubt the FPS counter, I am not going to complain about the drops it reported. I personally never observed them and the game always ran smoothly from my observation, except at turn transitions/when saving. I have it set to autosave every other turn, so I would not necessarily recognize if it were one or the other.

 

One unusual thing about the graphics is that it does not run in traditional fullscreen, and that does not appear to be an option, either. If you set the game to run at a resolution lower than your monitor's native resolution, it will run in a window. If you set the game to run at your monitor's resolution, it will run in fullscreen borderless or borderless window (depending on the term you are familiar with). Personally, I prefer to run games in this setting, but I admit I still find it unusual to not have the traditional fullscreen option. Also, this led to one issue for me concerning video capture. Normally I use NVIDIA ShadowPlay to capture game video for reviews, but it requires games be in fullscreen to work. As that was not an option here, I instead used OBS (Open Broadcaster Software), which is able to capture fullscreen borderless games. For some unknown reason, it repeatedly failed to capture game audio to the point that only four of the eleven videos I recorded actually have audio. I have not experienced this with any other game when using OBS.

Something else I encountered, which is likely not something normally encountered, is the occasional missing icon. At least two spells and some enchanted items lacked icons. My hope is that these are coming before the game's full release, but given how minor an issue this is, and the early access state of the game, I am willing to give it a pass.

Altogether, the graphics are what one would expect of a fantasy 4X game. They are not mindblowing, but get the job done, and done well. The game also performs quite well, but does have the odd quirk of lacking a traditional fullscreen.

 

Story:

I mentioned in the introduction how the game's setting is after the war was lost. The Sorcerer King rules the world, and your task is to build up enough strength to challenge him before he becomes a god. You and your enemy are not alone in the world, as other remnant cultures still exist and can be encountered. When you do encounter them, it is possible to make them your ally with the proper responses and by completing quests for them. If you do not ally with them, then they will join the Sorcerer King and become a threat to you.

This is an interesting setup, as it breaks from the traditional system in many 4X games that eventually you have to fight everyone to win. Because the Sorcerer King is the ultimate enemy, he is the only entity you must fight, besides bandits and monsters.

 

As you explore the world, you may also encounter heroes that were trapped in stone during the last war. This gives you the chance to bolster your armies with these powerful warriors, and I do mean powerful. One hero in particular can practically kill an entire army alone, if you can get him to a high enough level and with good enough gear.

With the Sorcerer King working to obtain godhood, there is a potential limit to the length of the game as the Doomsday Counter fills up. If the counter does completely fill, you will lose (obviously), so you will have to make the right choices to slow the counter or even reverse it, although some abilities benefit from higher values. Personally I prefer keeping the counter low, and in one game I played, it ended up crashing to nearly zero halfway in. (Not completely sure how that happened, but there are many ways to disrupt the counter.)

The best part about the story, in my opinion, is the humor of many of the encounters. Almost always there is a joke or insult you can throw out, sometimes even at the Sorcerer King. Just take the time to read what comes up and have a laugh or two.

 

By the way, you will talk with the Sorcerer King on many occasions. This is either for him to threaten you because of something you did, or because he sees you as a subject and offers something to help. If you accept his help, however, it will advance the Doomsday Counter, so make your decisions carefully.

It is an interesting premise to a game of this genre that it starts asymmetrically and largely continues as such, but it makes sense. After all, upstarts have shaped the real world many times before, so why should this not happen in the genre of games that directly involves shaping the world? The humor I found to be enjoyable, if at times silly, but it keeps a flavor of fun, instead of desperation. Sorcerer King could definitely have taken the serious path, but I am happy it did not.

 




  1. Sorcerer King Review - Introduction
  2. Sorcerer King Review - Graphics & Story
  3. Sorcerer King Review - Spells, Armies & Combat
  4. Sorcerer King Review - Items, Crafting & Expansion
  5. Sorcerer King Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Sorcerer King Review - Conclusion
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