I admit I’m a sucker for a turn-based RPG. The genre was my favorite growing up and even as gaming evolved I found most of my favorite titles landed in this familiar style. Eventually, I did open myself up to the more fast-paced, real-time games out there with their open worlds and first-person perspectives, but my comfort zone will likely always be in the menus and agility-based initiative of the turn-based RPG. As such, when I am browsing for games to analyze I always keep an eye open for such games. Of course, there often isn’t too much to say without going into the story, but lately I find myself getting sidetracked by mechanics and design, especially when browsing through Steam games. Paper Sorcerer, by Ultra Runaway Games, is one such game.
Paper Sorcerer is interesting as it is a game made in Unity that is not primarily of the exploration or survival horror genres. The first-person exploration is used to guide your character, the sorcerer, through the world map and explore a prison in search of a way out. Along the way, you quickly gain access to three party members, an assortment of demons, monsters and followers you can summon to fight with you. Beyond this, the game is standard adventure RPG fare: find treasure, interact with NPCs, fight enemies… the works; and quite frankly, it does these things well. Though it could use some tweaks to balance out the battles, Paper Sorcerer is a simple, yet competent RPG.
The story of Paper Sorcerer begins where another left off. A party of heroes sent to defeat a powerful sorcerer use a special book to banish the threat to their kingdom once and for all. Upon awakening, however, the sorcerer discovers themselves (the game allows you to choose your gender) in a peculiar prison. After discovering that the prison is actually within the book itself, the sorcerer embarks on a mission to escape capture, uncovering details about their past and the strange dimension within the book.
Paper Sorcerer’s biggest weakness is actually its soundtrack. The high-energy electronic score does not fit the setting and there are many examples of choppy transitions that destroy the atmosphere of the game. The music itself is okay (though I personally find it grating at times) but it seems more fitting to science fiction than fantasy, evoking an almost cyberpunk theme. The music’s volume is too high, making it stand out even more. But don’t just take my word for it—have a listen!
It really is a shame that such a sloppy approach was taken to implementing the soundtrack to this game. Paper Sorcerer is an example of the work of an aspiring designer with great potential. The game maintains a simple framework and allows its contents to create the experience for the player, rather than beating you over the head with too much backstory or meandering, pointless dialogue. Music aside, it obeys what in film is called a classical economy, assuring that anything put into the setting is used somehow. Though it can limit expression and interpretation, the classical economy approach ensures a clean, concise narrative and, for a video game, provide a sense of cohesion and closure that, in my opinion, should definitely be strove for by developing game makers. Paper Sorcerer is a fun RPG and worth checking out. Though, perhaps you should prepare your own playlist to listen to while you play.