Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Compile Heart
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
At its core, Sorcery Saga is a pretty simple, straightforward game: it's a dungeon-crawler, through and through. A sadistic, throw-your-Vita-against-the-wall-hard dungeon-crawler, to be sure, but a dungeon-crawler nonetheless.
I'm saying that up front because it's an awfully easy thing to overlook once that subtitle — Curse of the Great Curry God — comes into play. See, even if the game itself is easy enough to classify, genre-wise, the story Compile Heart built around the dungeon-crawling is flat out insane. A rough outline of it: you're Pupuru, a plucky young girl out to save her friend's curry restaurant from being muscled out of the market by the opening of a giant curry chain restaurant that's just set up shop in the neighbourhood. To do this, you have to assemble the ingredients for a legendary curry, but you're being thwarted by the owner of the aforementioned curry chain, who overheard your plans and has sent his own team in search of those ingredients.
Also, you're accompanied in your quest by something that looks kind of like a Pokemon, but that needs to be fed constantly or else it starts crying and attracting the attention of monsters. And you occasionally chat with a disturbingly young-looking girl dressed in, for lack of better description, a boob sticker and a waist bracelet, except her half of the conversation consists almost entirely of her muttering about the titular Curry God, along with a bunch of indifferent asides. And there's a demonic prince who's convinced that Pupuru is his future wife, and whose father is possibly the Pokemon-ish creature.
You know, just your typical plot.
As I said, though, getting too far into the weeds of the Sorcery Saga's story can obscure the fact that this game is, at its core, shockingly simple. I mean, you definitely should allow yourself to get drawn into the story, because it's so utterly bonkers that it's endearing and hilarious, but all the crazy conversations are, ultimately, just passing the time between the game trying to kill you.
Actually, saying the game is "trying" to kill you drastically overstates how effective you'll be in this game. Because, truthfully, you probably don't stand a chance. Sorcery Saga expects you to grind your way through room after room, carefully building up your stats, and then do it all over again in the next dungeon, where they've not-so-helpfully reset your stats back to the first level.
I'll say that again, because it bears repeating: no matter how strong you may grow to be in one dungeon, it doesn't matter for the next one, because you always start back at Level 1.
On the upside, careful crafting will at least give you a fighting chance, since you're allowed to carry stronger weapons into each new dungeon. Of course, if you die (which you most certainly will) then you lose those weapons, and everything gets pushed back to zero. So it's almost like you're grinding through level after level for no reason at all. Fun!
Of course, that's where having such a memorable story comes in handy. After all, just a few weeks ago, I was complaining about Rainbow Moon's endless grinding, and yet here I am with Sorcery Saga, loving every minute of it even though the grinding is, in some ways, even more pronounced (and arguably way more useless). Why am I so much more tolerant in this case? Simple: because Sorcery Saga knows how to draw you in and keep you interested. It may be trying to crush my spirit, but when it's doing so with a smile on its face — a mildly terrifying, insane smile, of course, but a smile nonetheless — it's a much easier thing to accept.