Review: Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (PSV)

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Title: Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (919 MB)
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Compile Heart
Original MSRP: $39.99 (Retail) / $34.99 (PSN)
ESRB Rating: T
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God is exclusive to PlayStation Vita.
The Game Card version was used for this review.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (henceforth Sorcery Saga, because that name is a mouthful) follows Pupuru, who is kicked out of her Magic Academy when a strange creature named Kuu eats the magic orb she was tasked to retrieve. Pupuru decides to lift her spirits by eating at her favorite curry restaurant, only to find it in danger of going out of business thanks to a huge chain restaurant opening down the street. Armed with an ancient curry recipe and with the help of Kuu, Pupuru decides to quest for the ultimate curry ingredients so she can save her favorite curry restaurant!

Sorcery Saga’s story is definitely heavy on the ham. All of the characters Pupuru meets on her adventure are played up in one way or another; be it the demon whose attempts to woo Pupuru always fall flat or the adventurer trio who always end up one step behind her. Sorcery Saga’s story is silly and trivial and it makes no attempt to hide it. The game won’t be winning any awards for the cheesy story, but I found it enjoyable nonetheless. The lighthearted humor had me chuckling a few times and the characters themselves are endearing enough throughout. Certain actions also unlock gag shorts, which can be more hit or miss.

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However, Sorcery Saga’s silliness only applies to the story. Once out of town, the game is a rogue-like dungeon-crawler where Pupuru must fight her way through several randomly generated floors before facing a deadly boss. Dungeons appear as a grid-based system where taking any action (attacking, moving, etc.) also lets enemy monsters take an action at the same time. Kuu follows Pupuru around in dungeons, taking turns when she does and helping her fight off monsters on occasion. Unfortunately, Kuu slowly grows hungry while moving around and if he gets too hungry he’ll start to attract monsters until you feed him some items to restore him. Feeding Kuu also comes with the benefit of giving him bonus abilities or beefing up his stats.

The entire mechanic of Kuu in the dungeon is one of the downfalls of the game though. Kuu’s AI is ridiculously annoying at times, as he picks fights with enemies you don’t want to fight or moves around randomly without helping you when you do. Also, while some items restore Kuu’s health, some hurt him or even give him negative status effects. Sadly, there isn’t any in-game way to see if the item you’re about to feed him will help or hurt without relying on trial and error or a guide. While some items are more obvious (don’t go feeding him items like “poison” that are intended to be used against enemies), I still had a lot of occasions where I fed him items that seemed safe but ended up hurting him and in one case even killed him on the spot. If Kuu is dead, Pupuru can’t advance to the next level, meaning he can’t just be ignored outright. Lots of items will be tossed at Kuu during the game to keep him alive.

You’ll also need to be feeding Kuu regularly because Pupuru’s inventory space is incredibly small. Often, your inventory will be full within the first couple floors, meaning you’ll spend the rest of the dungeon throwing items at Kuu every time you come across them or spending time trying to decide which one to keep. Pupuru eventually gains the ability to make curry while in dungeons. This can ease your inventory management a bit, as you use up items to make curries that boost your stats and experience gains. There is some upside to all of the inventory management though. Because Pupuru returns to level one after each dungeon, finding weapons, getting them appraised outside of the dungeon, and strengthening them is the best strategy to get through the later dungeons in the game.

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For a rogue-like, Sorcery Saga is a little on the easier side. The game doesn’t have permadeath, although dying in a dungeon will cause you to lose all of your items except your sword and shield. Dungeons can be a bit sparse at times and Pupuru regains her health while she walks around. Most of the difficulty of the game comes from the length of the dungeons, particularly the later ones. This combined with the small inventory can lead to tedium as you spend 20 floors of a dungeon reworking your inventory every time you come across a new item, trying to decide which ones you want to keep. New weapons aren’t even appraised until you return to town, so you may spend one of you limited item slots holding on to an item for a bunch of floors only to return to town and find that the item is garbage. There are occasional surprise floors that can spice up the game however and Pupuru starting every dungeon at level one does mean the game isn’t too far on the easy side.

Visuals
Sorcery Saga’s visuals during story and cutscenes are great. The 2D art used for the story sections is sharp and vibrant. The characters are all drawn in anime style and have distinct and interesting character designs. During the dungeon crawling, however, the game uses 3D models of the characters that aren’t quite ripe compared to what the Vita is capable of. That’s not to say they look bad. Pupuru’s 3D model still looks decent but the environments are half-baked.

There isn’t much variety as you fight through several randomly generated floors with the same hallways and rooms before getting a change to a new area with some different themed rooms and hallways. Sadly, even with the graphics as they are, the game’s frame rate still slows to a crawl in certain dungeons. Not enough to be unplayable but enough to be noticeable, especially on boss stages.

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Audio
The audio in Sorcery Saga depends a bit more on tastes. The game has a very J-pop opening theme and bubbly music in the town. Similarly, the voices are all in the original Japanese with no dubbed English voices available. It’s not a huge detriment unless you’re adverse to listening to voices in another language; the Japanese voices are good and most characters’ voices match well. Pupuru, for example, sounds energetic to match the story and personality of the character.

Music in the dungeons mostly standard issue background music. Not grating on the nerves, but not particularly memorable. I enjoyed the soundtrack while playing the game, but it is not one I feel the need to listen to outside of the game.

Multiplayer/Online
This game is single player only. However, the game does connect to the internet to verify downloadable content (there are some costumes and voice packs that can be downloaded) which means that if you don’t have internet these items will be disabled. The rest of the game runs fine without an internet connection, so this is just a heads-up before purchasing any DLC for the game.

Conclusion
If you’re hungry for a decent rogue-like game and would enjoy a modern anime spice on it, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God will fill you up. It’s accessible enough for long time fans and newcomers provided you can stomach a helping of anime style designs and silly story. The game isn’t without faults, mostly the small inventory space and occasionally tedious task of cycling through it, but it leaves a pleasant after-taste that fans of JRPGs should enjoy regardless.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built-in screen capture feature.

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Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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