Rogue-likes are intimidating. The traditional role playing rogue-like in the vein of Mystery Dungeon is one of the most underrepresented genres in contemporary gaming, making it difficult for newcomers to acquiesce to. Fortunately, Sorcery Saga: Curse of The Great Curry God fits into that mold, acting as the perfect entry point for the genre.
Sorcery Saga begins with an anime-esque opening song that sets the stage for a cutesy adventure with cutesy characters. The story stars Pupuru, a student of a magical academy tasked with retrieving a magical orb from a tower as part of her graduation exam. At the top floor of the Tower, Pupuru meets Kuu, a blobby mess of a creature that consumes the magical orb before she is able to retrieve it.
Upon returning with her report of the situation, Pupuru’s teacher suspends her for failing the exam, after which she becomes embroiled in the pursuit of creating the ultimate magic curry by gathering the required ingredients from nearby dungeons.
Sorcery Saga oozes charm from the outset. Character art is lively and expressive. Each character has a distinctive look with unconventional names ranging from Gigadis to Puni. Through the course of the story, players will likely grow an attachment to the some of the oddballs. In typical JRPG fashion, the cast is filled with anime tropes including the resident pervert and the annoying cutesy creature that does nothing but cause trouble.
Sorcery Saga‘s aesthetic and vibe is an incredibly important part of the experience. As mentioned before, this is a rogue-like for beginners and the soundtrack plays a huge role in making the adventure feel relaxed. Every track fits Sorcery Saga‘s accessible nature, making it difficult to feel stressed while playing the game. It plays similarly to others in the genre. Dungeons are randomly generated and movement/attacking is handled on a turn-based grid system. Because of this, positioning is key. Combat itself is basic. You press a button to attack and that’s basically it.
There are hundreds of items, weapons, scrolls, and magic abilities in all, but the game’s difficulty ceiling is so low that the majority of these are useless. Magic and most scrolls are only helpful during boss battles in the early game and the 256 floor post-game dungeon. The easy difficulty might be a turn off for experts, but Sorcery Saga‘s core gameplay loop is satisfying and the style charming enough to prevent repetition and boredom from settling in too quickly.
By design, the player resets to level 1 every time he/she enters a dungeon whether it’s the first time or the tenth time. The only way to experience permanent character growth is through upgrading weapons and shields. These are found in dungeons and their stats can be upgraded only when there is a plus symbol attached to them, be it +1 or +3.
Non-plus weapons can be upgraded through killing enemies, but this form of upgrading only unlocks more seal slots for the weapon, allowing more benefits to be applied to said weapon or shield after it is combined with another. Due to the random nature of the game, the frequency at which equipment can be upgraded varies wildly which is why the level reset helps to maintain a meaningful sense of progression. Even when players are stuck trying to find equipment that can be combined, the consistent leveling of every dungeon crawl keeps the player invested as something is always being gained or improved regardless of the randomly generated elements.
Combining weapons and shields costs money in town, though there is another way of upgrading equipment, which will be a point of contention for players. Kuu accompanies Pupuru on every dungeon excursion and his introduction serves as a means to spice up the traditional rogue-like formula. He acts as a typical AI buddy, dealing damage to enemies and acting as a tank, though he levels up through the consumption of items. Throw enough items at Kuu and he’ll start leveling up, learning new abilities along the way. One of the most useful is Crafting Smarts, letting the player combine equipment once per floor at no additional cost.
Kuu learns abilities randomly. There is no rhyme or reason for which abilities Kuu will learn at which level, making it frustrating to constantly feed him, hoping you’ll get that one benefit you want only to be disappointed. Keeping Kuu protected is paramount as dying with him alive will result in being transported to town with no real penalty. Letting Kuu die before you, however, means losing your equipped sword and shield.
On the surface, this seems like a huge set back. Losing hours upon hours of progress doesn’t sound very enticing if this is a new concept to you. Fortunately, your first death unlocks a special five floor dungeon with generous drops, providing decent equipment on each run. Go through this dungeon a few times and you’ll be in a comfortable position to return to the main game.
Theater items can be acquired in dungeons with each item unlocking a new skit in the game’s Chara theater. Each skit plays out on a theatre with its painted backgrounds, fancy flooring, and curtains hanging off each end of the stage. These scenes tend to add more to the characters, making them the perfect optional scenes for players that love the character interactions throughout the main game without slowing down the experience for those that don’t care enough to sit through them.
Item management is vital. With only twenty four item slots and no way to upgrade storage space, the longer dungeons will turn into a mini item management simulator. Figuring out which items to keep and which to throw away is the most mentally taxing the game ever gets. These decisions can be genuinely difficult to make sometimes, adding a tiny layer of strategy over one of the easiest rogue-likes you’ll ever play.
Sorcery Saga: Curse of The Great Curry God is a decent rogue-like that appeals mostly to newbies of the genre. If you consider yourself familiar with these kinds of games, Sorcery Saga may be a little simple minded for you unless you’re interested in the game’s style and characters. Not every single game in the world needs to be super challenging. Sometimes a gamer just wants an experience that lets him/her unwind and turn their brain off while feeling like something is still being accomplished. Sorcery Saga fits that bill. Even if you do end up dying, how could you get angry at such cutesy character designs and relaxing music?