Sorcerer King

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Sorcerer King Game Poster Image
Quirky, funny 4X fantasy strategy game with some violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can practice strategizing in this colorful turn-based fantasy game. Players engage in battles with multiple units, each with their own skills and advantages. Success depends on working out how best to position attackers for maximum effect, which abilities and spells are most effective in different situations, and making smart decisions when considering risky gambits. Analysis, evaluation, and planning all play key roles, especially at first. Unfortunately, the need to innovate tactics subsides as the game progresses, allowing players to continue to use proven strategies or simply simulate battles without any input. Still, Sorcerer King encourages kids to formulate strategies and carefully assess situations.

Positive Messages

Joke-filled narrative doesn't take much seriously; basic good standing up against terrible evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players control heroes' behavior, choices, so protagonists can veer among good, evil, morally gray positions. Many situations force decisions determining whether secondary characters live or die. Rewards not always dependent upon selecting the moral choice.  

Ease of Play

Multiple difficulty settings. The easiest lets players learn the game without much frustration, though it won't let kids just plow their way across the countryside willy-nilly. The hardest is very unforgiving, demands smart, tactical play.  

Violence

Tiny beasts, monsters, humans fight with swords, spears, axes, arrows, magic. Defeated heroes fall to the ground, disappear. Small splashes of blood, but no gore, gratuitous violence. Players can simulate battles, skipping violence entirely.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes in taverns with bottles of alcohol lining the walls. Characters occasionally described as drunk.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sorcerer King is a downloadable turn-based fantasy strategy game that pits the player against a nearly all-powerful sorcerer. Battles -- which players can simulate offscreen or control themselves -- are viewed from an angle high in the sky. Tiny combatants attack each other with medieval weapons and magic. Expect a few small splashes of blood but no gore or gratuitous violence. Players can control the behavior of their heroes by making decisions for them. These choices can result in the death of secondary characters, some of whom may be innocent, but the joke-laden narrative tends to turn most of these potentially gritty scenarios into funny -- if occasionally dark -- episodes. Players won't see any characters drinking, but text conversations are frequently set in taverns and some characters are described as drunk. There also are minor privacy and safety concerns, because though there's no multiplayer or communication with others, gamer names are visible on leaderboards.

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What's it about?

The titular villain in SORCERER KING wants to end the world, and it's your job to stop him. Taking on the preset role of one of a handful of modifiable characters, the game begins with the evil king in complete control of the world. Only a few pockets of resistance remain, and minions are everywhere. Worse, a doomsday clock is counting down, and when it expires, the king will wipe out all life, using it to enhance his wicked power. Your goal is raise an army, harvest resources, build up cities and outposts, and crush the king before time runs out. Action is turn-based, letting players move armies led by heroes as well as individual units across the world map where they will discover missions, find treasure, expand your area of influence, and engage in combat. You can choose whether to simulate battles with the victor determined by unit combat attributes and statistics or take direct control of your army, directing each unit in quick turn-based fights. The campaign mode leads players through a partially scripted series of events on a preset map, while a second "play" mode allows players to randomize the map and various game elements to enhance replay value. 

Is it any good?

This quirky and funny strategy game delivers a solid experience for 4X strategy fans: Players will explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate to their hearts' content. But Sorcerer King also subverts the genre's formula by pitting players against a single foe -- a terrible, all-powerful wizard regent -- giving them the principal objective of defeating one enemy rather than a group of rivals. It also introduces a doomsday countdown timer that encourages players to rush more than they might in similar games. Its unusual sense of humor, meanwhile, peppers the proceedings with wry, sarcastic jokes that could lure players to pick options they wouldn't normally consider just to see what sort of witty resolutions might accompany them.

Unfortunately, little issues keep Sorcerer King from shining as brightly as it could. Parts of the game -- such as the function of loot rewards such as "+1 courage" and various collectible items -- are left all but unexplained by the tutorial pop-ups, leaving players to scratch their heads until much later in the game. And though player-controlled combat is fun to start, it grows repetitive. You'll likely find a couple of spells, tactics, and unit types that work best and stick with them for almost every battle -- assuming you don't choose to simply simulate fights with predicted outcomes in your favor. Still, Sorcerer King has a quirky vibe that's complemented by a brightly colored and appealing aesthetic and a great wit. 4X strategy fans shouldn't pass it by.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Since much of the violence in Sorcerer King is either simulated offscreen or described in text, what's the difference in emotional impact between that and visual depictions of violence?

  • Families also can discuss the relationship between humor and violence. Can a well-timed joke lessen the impact of a character's death? Does it make light of a situation that ought to be taken seriously? Under what circumstances might it be OK to make a joke about the death or injury of a character?

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