Yeah, there is a Curry God, and he is as harsh as a late night Vindaloo.
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God, which was developed by Compile Heart and is available on the PlayStation Vita, is a game of contrasts. Revolving around a young girl and her strange companion creature, there is a light-hearted story filled with comical moments and a cast of bizarre characters. It is all very cute and endearing. However, actually playing the game reveals a high difficulty level that will more than once slap the player in the face, remove all of their hard-earned accomplishment and throw them back to the beginning. Sorcery Saga is not for the feint-hearted.
The player takes on the role of the young girl Pupuru who, early in the game, is joined by a strange creature that doubles as a eating machine, Kuu. Being a big fan of curry, Pupuru is dismayed to discover a hugely popular chain curry restaurant, which serves questionable curry, has moved to her town and is threatening to put her favorite curry joint, Smile Curry, out of business. Through a strange series of events, Pupuru happens to have the recipe for a god-like curry that can save the small business, and all she needs to do is gather the required ingredients. It may come as no surprise to discover that these ingredients happen to be stored in a series of multi-level dungeons, surrounded by all manner of monsters.
Gameplay in the dungeons is fairly straight forward. The levels are given a grid base and each move or action that the player takes gives the other creatures on the level a chance to also move or act. Careful maneuvering and planning will give the player a chance to outrun enemies or gain the upper hand in combat. The combat is a simple bash of a button to swing whatever weapons the player has equipped, and the player will find books that will allow spells to be learned and used for differing effects. The spells only have limited use in each dungeon, so again careful planning will be needed to make the most of these magical bonuses.
The addition of Kuu, the companion, complicates things further, or makes them more interesting, depending on the player. Kuu will follow Pupuru around, getting handy in fights (albeit sometimes even though the player doesn’t want it) supporting the player. However, Pupuru’s health regenerates as she moves around and Kuu’s health doesn’t. If Kuu loses all of his health in a level, the player must revive Kuu before they are able to leave or continue. This will involve feeding Kuu with items from your inventory, items that you have probably struggled to gather.
There is an upside however. By feeding different items to Kuu, he levels up and becomes more powerful, also learning different skills that will aid the player, including the ability to combine similar items to create new, better items for the player, something which will cost the player if they attempt it in town. Kuu can also save the player from having their heart broken.
When the player leaves a dungeon, their level is reduced back to one and the next dungeon they attempt will see them starting again from the very beginning. However, all of the treasures that they find in the dungeon, of which there will generally be many more than the limited inventory can hold, can be taken back in to give the player an advantage from the start, or stored in the players’ room for later inspection. That is, unless the player dies in the dungeon. Should this happen, all of the swag is also lost. When this happens, and it does quite regularly, the temptation to throw down the Vita and never play the game again is undeniable.
But if Kuu is alive when you die, you keep all of your hard-earned goodies. There may be times when Kuu’s existence is simply awkward and annoying, but times like these will make you really want to hug the cute little buddy. Of course, the massive size of some of the dungeons may suggest that this will not help as often as the player may wish, so sometimes it is worth hopping into one of the portals and nipping back to town to stash any cool loot before starting the dungeon again from the very beginning, at level one.
Kuu also won’t be able to help when it comes to the irritating enemies that seem to target your equipment and destroy them, aside from his obvious battle prowess. Sorcery Saga doesn’t offer much to help the player, but at least there is the Curry crafting system to offer a little aid. Keeping in with the theme of the game, players will be able to mix and create different curries whilst they roam the dungeons, providing them with stat bonuses depending on the ingredients used. It’s not much, but it is all welcome.
Sorcery Saga is not a bad looking game, with an overriding level of cuteness that belies the evil difficulty. The characters in the game are all interesting, leaning towards the bizarre and comical, and the Japanese voice work seems to make it all even more hilarious.
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Curry God is a game that manages to mix both cute and funny with devilish difficulty. It is a challenge that only the most dedicated player may want to attempt. But despite the high difficulty level and frequently frustrating loss of progress, Sorcery Saga still manages to be a lot of fun and worth checking out by anyone who knows what to expect from an RPG of this type.