Checks Out Paper Sorcerer

You may recall that Ultra Runaway Games released a new first-person dungeon delver earlier this month by the name of Paper Sorcerer; developer Jesse Gallagher has since sent me a copy of the game so that I can check it out. Behold!

So, first impressions…

I really enjoy the diversity of potential companions you can summon, though I found the huge selection somewhat daunting. I am undecided on the combat system itself; I quite like the Defense mechanic, and the tactical diversity available with different companions is welcome. However, I deeply dislike the use of highly randomized attack damage–and worse, highly randomized healing effects.

Paper Sorcerer’s setting is perhaps my favorite thing about it so far. The developer has done some nice work making the Librum Claustrum feel like a unique place. The game’s NPC encounters, flavor text, and ink-and-paper graphical style all distinguish it from your run-of-the-mill dungeon quite nicely, and I find myself wanting to learn more about this bizarre locale.

However, this sense of place is undone to some extent by the game’s design. The starting areas are extremely linear, and thus feel more like video game levels than real locations. Combined with my apparent inability to backtrack to earlier areas, I felt just a little too much like I was being funneled down a planned series of combat encounters and loot collection chambers.

It would be unfair to conclude that this linearity persists throughout the game based on this short play session, and I hope against hope that it does not. In an ideal world, Paper Sorcerer would open up soon after the areas shown in the video, providing one the freedom to explore the librum.

One nitpick: I do not like the soundtrack. It’s electronic, which makes me immediately think of Yuzo Koshiro’s soundtrack for Eye of the Beholder, but Paper Sorcerer really doesn’t come out looking so hot in that comparison. PS’s music lacks the moodiness, catchy hooks, and general commitment to being weird and unsettling that made Eye of the Beholder’s tracks work so well. That strikes me as a wasted opportunity: this setting screams mystery and danger, and it deserves music that heightens that sense.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed my time with Paper Sorcerer, but I could see myself getting tired of it if it continues in the same linear fashion. As one ought to expect from a first impressions piece, I simply haven’t played enough of the game to render a final judgment about it.

Want to decide for yourself? Paper Sorcerer is really cheap, so it’s not like you’d be taking a big risk in giving it a shot! You can nab Paper Sorcerer for a mere $5 right here; Windows, Mac and Linux. Also, it’s on Steam Greenlight–feel free to upvote it here.

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