The Last Sorceror
You stand in the middle of a vast open space. Hordes of ugly, violent creatures swarm towards you. You're in luck. This isn't the rush hour on the London Underground, it's Gauntlet-like game "The Last Sorceror". A lot more fun - you can't blast commuters to smithereens with nothing but your own willpower, however much you try.
Okay, so my dislike of crowded tube trains aside, what is TLS all about? As the title suggests, you play the part of the last Sorceror. The Sorcerors battled against the demon hordes once before, and won, but it was a messy battle. You are now the only one left, your magical powers reduced to almost nothing, and then one day you learn that the demons have returned.
Your objective in TLS is simple. Stop the demons by destroying their entry points into each world (obelisk things). You need to find these obelisks first, by searching for evil artifacts which reveal them. The fun part is on the way, as you are attacked by and dispatch ridiculous numbers of demons. Your basic weapon, a magical arrow, is sufficient to turn a demon into a pile of dismembered limbs, and many more spells are found on the way.
Controls are fairly flexible - you can use joysticks and game pads if you wish, or you can stick with the default controls of mouse and keyboard. In this setup you move with the arrow keys and aim/fire with the mouse. This allows you to shoot one way while moving another, very useful. Other keys select spells and so on. There is also an ingame help, which explains features as you go to new players.
The graphics can seem a little low resolution at times, even though they are far from it. This is mainly due to the thick black outlines around objects. TLS reminds me of Gauntlet, a game which it cheerfully admits being inspired by. Animation is smooth and varied. And I cannot help but cackle evilly when I blast a demon and limbs fly off in all directions!
One area often forgotten in indie games is the music. Here there are several ingame tunes that cycle through - and rather neatly, give their names in the corner of the screen when they start. Well written and atmospheric, they underscore the action without interrupting it. Sound effects are also high quality, if a little more basic - and the demon bombs sound weird.
As for playability, the dual controls take some getting used to! Once you've set up your mouse and keyboard (or bought a gamepad) the controls are relatively intuitive. A nice thought is the way the game pauses while you are selecting spells. It did take me a while to find the Save Game option, though. And fighting at gateways is... um... chaotic. Expect your mouse to take a pummelling.
This is a game that will last you a long time, especially thanks to the save feature. Your two initial spells soon become three and after that you'll find loads. The strategic element here is not to waste these spells as you need to 'pay' for new ones on the map screen. It is also near impossible to die completely unless you give up, as you can always retry if you perish, and attempt to escape a fight if you are losing.
This is a great game, and I love it. Though there are a few improvements I'd like to add (such as a neater spell selection method), the efforts that have been made really show and the game as it stands has more depth than some commercial releases.
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