I’ve probably watched more anime than the average gamer but I would no means call myself an anime otaku. I’ve never seen the appeal of Chibi, and the use of nosebleeds in reference to boy/girl first meetings seems ludicrous to me. (I understand the idea; arousal raising blood pressure, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has alluded to or even said “that girl was so hot, she caused my nose to bleed!”). These types of over exaggerated stylisations are a product of a lot of anime in the last ten years to which I have not been party, (my anime heritage being the late 80′s, early 90′s such as Akira, Appleseed, Dominion and the more mainstream Castle of Cagliostro and the wealth of releases from Studio Ghibli), and though Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online, to name just two, have brought me back into the fold, its something thats always been hard for me to reconcile.
Cultural differences aside, when the code for Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God dropped in my mailbox I was not sure what to expect other than a plethora of anime tropes that are common to the style portrayed on the box.
To this end I was not disappointed, but once I had started playing, I have to admit to being extremely surprised.
You are introduced to Pupuru, the main protaganist, woken from a nap by her teacher Ms Saffron in the middle of her final exam. Left slightly flustered she decides to cast her hand to fate and randomly answer the questions. This results in her perfecting the test, and being put forward as the representative for the Magic Academy challenge. This challenge, is to ascend the Restore Maze Tower and return with the magic orb Upon reaching the pinnacle of the tower, you discover the jewel missing, and in its place you find an ancient tome of curry recipes, and your soon to be stalwart companion, Kuu who has eaten the jewel. Upon returning to the ground, and revealing the jewel’s fate to Ms Saffron you are treated to the typical exaggerated responses I mentioned above and soon find yourself expelled from the Academy.
This tower serves as your very basic introduction to the key mechanics of the game. As you progress up each level, different controls and abilities are unveiled and once you have conquered this tower, you do feel you have a sufficient grasp of the game to undertake the quest at hand though the training conducted in the tower is simply a scratch on the surface of the mechanics at play behind the scenes in Curry God.
Returning to town you find yourself embroiled in a quest to save your favourite curry house from closure, at the hands of a Curry conglomerate run by the sleazy Goldal, by finding the rare ingredients listed in the ancient tome and making the fabled curry of the curry god.
Best described as a Turn based RPG Rogue-like, combat is exceedingly simple. Each move you make is simultaneous to the moves of any enemies on the screen, so planning your next move is essential when you are outnumbered. Combat is as simple as turning to face a desired enemy and taking turns hitting each other until one of you are dead, but thankfully creatures in the game never feel overpowered (with the exception of boss fights). Tomes of magic found along the way can be used to increase your arsenal and range from simple fireball and healing spells to the spell to increase your characters stats on a single dungeon level
Its rogue-like features come out in how you approach each dungeon. Firstly, the dungeons are procedurally generated with only specific levels being the same in each play through, and when entering a dungeon you and your companion are reset to Level 1. Powers, armour and weapons carry over, so the better equipped you are, the easier it becomes to manage the enemies. Your companion on this adventure is the rather bizarre Kuu. Effectively a pet, you have to watch and manage his health, skills and levelling. Kuu’s health doesn’t regenerate and doubles as his hunger bar so consistently drops throughout the dungeons, so you need to feed him with loot in order to both level him up and heal him.
At certain levels he will unlock a random ability, and much like Pokemon, you can only hold so many, so you have to drop an ability to take on another once that is full. Whether it be “Eye of God” which reveals the stats of all items picked up, “SO HUNGRY” which makes Kuu’s hunger bar deplete faster, or the extremely useful “crafting smarts” all of the skills are assigned randomly, for the most part. Using this ability, you can combine weapons and armour when in the dungeon, easing the grind within the game. During the first dungeon, Oboro Forest, it is automatically assigned but is randomly assigned after this dungeon is complete. Its an interesting concept that adds a layer of complexity to the exploration. Since you could use the loot to upgrade your weapons or level up Kuu, it makes for some interesting choices along the way.
With each dungeon being utterly randomised, you will stumble across wards that will sometimes have positive or negative effects, world items that can be used back in town to unlock mini-stories which normally have some award attached and ingredients. Did you really think they would have a game called Curse of the Great Curry God without the ability to make/eat curry?
Once you have progressed a certain way through the game, you will unlock the ability to cook your own curries at the Smile Curry House, which also doubles as your RPG shop, utilising the hundreds of ingredients you will find throughout the world. Again, the benefits of these curries varies as wildly as the dungeon layouts but will typically give you a beneficial boost for a short period of time.
The story is quite cute in its own kind of way, and is undoubtedly benefited by the eclectic mix of characters ranging from the money grubbing antagonist Goldal, the inept, misguided yet altruistic band of heroes Naan, Panna and Udon or the downright kooky Puni. It has its fair share of creepiness with Gigadis, a demonic “prince” lusting after pupuru, proposing marriage at every conceivable opportunity and just generally being a bit pervy throughout.
These story niggles aside, this is a fantastic little game that tries to find a unique approach to the invariably punishing gameplay of a rogue like and to that degree it succeeds. Although I failed dungeons several times, losing all my loot bar my equipped items, it did not dissuade me, and given that my character had improved over the course of that failed run I was able to use my new found skills to progress further in the game. With hundreds of enemies, weapons and collectables there is countless hours of gameplay available and the Risk/Reward balance is struck well. Those who have never tried a rogue like game, and those well versed in these game types, would be able to pick up and play this without any difficulty.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PlayStation Vita Release: 21/02/14
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of four weeks on the PS Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.