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Dec 20 2013

Review of Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God

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We look at a lot of silly stuff here on HalfBeard’s HUD, some of it good, some of it bad, but always at least somewhat interesting. Today is no different as we’re looking at an anime roguelike focused around the creation of magical god curry, Call of Duty this is not. With a concept like that this game could go either way in terms of quality so maybe it’s appropriate that it sits right in the middle. Overall it’s a confusing game but it’s somewhat endearing and it has a solid base for its gameplay, this certainly won’t be the title for everyone but there is something here for those who want a roguelike in a soft pink wrapper.

We’re going to start off with the story both for the sake of talking about it and as a disclaimer for the rest of the game, basically if any at point you feel this shit becomes too goofy for you, stop reading because it’s only going to get worse. This game trades in silly ridiculous anime shtick, specifically a cutesy kind of anime shtick, think Card Captor Sakura not Fist of the North Star. So the premise is that slacker junior high school student Pururu (who is also a princess because of course she is) flukes her way through a big exam that allows her the opportunity to climb to the top of a magic tower. At the top she finds a legendary curry recipe as well as a small yet insatiable creature who only speaks in odd coos, so she names it Kuu. Shortly afterward she finds out her favourite curry restaurant, Smile Curry, is being threatened by a big curry chain that just moved into town so she sets off to gather the various magical ingredients of the legendary curry so she can tip the scales and stop Big Curry from taking over. If that basic premise wasn’t convoluted enough there’s also a bunch of side BS you get to mash the X button through. There’s a mysterious curry oracle who follows you around because it pleases her curry god. There’s a dopey evil lord guy who falls for Pururu while also claiming to have some weird familial connection to Kuu. There’s an ambitious magician who also wants the legendary curry but keeps getting denied because everyone thinks he’s a pervert. And then of course there’s also the standard bumbling group of rival heroes who fail to stop you at every turn. When it comes to the story and writing here, it’s a big fat ball of anime clichés and while there’s a pretty decent roguelike hidden underneath it all, if you can’t take the squealing big-eyed monsters then get out of the unnecessarily pink and pointless side-plot ridden pool.

Don't mistake this game's cuteness for easiness, monsters have no problem ganging up on you and pummeling you into submission.

Don’t mistake this game’s cuteness for easiness, things can get just as hairy as any other roguelike.

Gameplay-wise this is a fairly traditional roguelike; you’ll slowly walk your ass around randomly generated levels, swapping hits with monsters, and picking up a plethora of dubiously useful items. There are a few quirks here and there though that do serve to change-up the classic formula a bit and offer something more than just an anime reskinned roguelike. The biggest thing is having Kuu follow you around through dungeons as he acts as both a battle partner and as a leveling magic trashcan. You see Kuu will eat absolutely anything you throw at him, in fact he doesn’t even have health, he just has a fullness bar you need to keep topped up. Feeding serves a double benefit though as not only does it keep his fullness up but it also provides him with experience and as he levels up he’ll gain new useful abilities. This kind of gets rid of the problem of carrying around too many junk items as at any time you can just purge your inventory into Kuu’s waiting mouth and watch him get stronger as a result. The other big new way you’ll be using your items is through the curry-to-go system which allows you to craft batches of curry out of dungeon junk to provide Pururu with massive temporary passive bonuses, full health, and increased Exp gain. These curry bonuses last for a good floor or two and if you scrounge hard enough you’ll always be under the effects of delicious curry.

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I really wish whoever it is would stop stealing your inventory when they do it.

The constant benefit of those systems is somewhat outweighed by the way this game adapts roguelike style permadeath to its framework. First off it does the “Exp only lasts for as long as you’re in a dungeon” thing where it resets your level every time you exit the dungeon; I get why they did it that way, it prevents you from grinding and then just steamrolling the game, but it does ruin any real sense of progression or persistence outside of items. Of course items are by no means eternal either. When you die you’ll lose everything you were carrying along with your exp forcing you to either start at your current story point with a blank state or slog through what they call the “Restore Dungeon”, a piss easy dungeon full of items for you to restock yourself with. The only thing that always remains persistent between runs is your learned skills and while they’re generally pretty powerful, they’re also pretty limited. So overall while it definitely has the roguelike difficulty they were clearly aiming for, as a result there’s no real sense of character progression and one can only start from zero so many times before getting bored.

Lastly we have the presentation which is pretty much exactly what you would expect, a lot of soft muted colours and a lot of rounded edges. Visually this game is a fever dream of visual puns, goofy looking monsters, and the occasional bit of entirely unnecessary cleavage; it’s anime to the Nth degree and you already know if you’re okay with that. More interesting is the music which is more upbeat than I would have expected and surprisingly chock full of vocals. It’s a nice change of pace from the standard instrumental J-rock we would normally get in an affair such as this. The voice over is all in Japanese so I can’t really attest to its quality but it sounds like your standard anime squealing and over-excitement, so again you already know what you’re getting into and whether you like it or not.

In the end I just really don’t have any specific feelings toward this game; the anime stuff puts me off slightly but it’s nowhere near as bad as something like Hyper Dimension Neptunia and while the gameplay seems ever so slightly unfair it’s an intended kind of unfair and it’s exactly what true roguelike fans are going to want.. This game feels built for a very specific audience, one that loves cutesy anime and unforgiving roguelikes, and those who don’t fit that very specific description probably won’t find a ton to get into here. That said though Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God does what it does quite well even if it is pretty niche so I feel justified in giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

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