By Spencer . December 10, 2013 . 9:52pm
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God has a wacky plot for a RPG. Instead of an epic battle of good vs. evil, you play as Pupuru, a magic academy student, who goes on a quest to collect items to create a Legendary Magic Curry. Pupuru loves Japanese curry (which is kind of like a stew with rice) and she wants to save her favorite shop from going out of business. In the first dungeon she runs into Kuu, a little creature that levels up by eating stuff, and is guided by Puni, a devout follower of the Great Curry God. Sorcery Saga doesn’t take itself serious and plays up cuteness at every opportunity even with its theme song.
If you glanced at Sorcery Saga you might think it was designed for casual gamers, but it’s actually a cutesy roguelike. Roguelikes are RPGs with randomly generated levels and can be incredibly punishing since you lose all of your loot if you die in a dungeon. What makes roguelkes interesting is the constant challenge and how each step you take or swing of the sword makes the entire world react. Sorcery Saga sticks to the tenets of the genre, but adds Kuu as a persistent ally. You can’t control Kuu, but Pupuru’s friend loyally follows her around and will attack monsters too. That means you always get two attacks instead of one. You can also use Kuu as a shield when you’re running low on HP. Kuu has a fullness meter that absorbs damage and also slowly depletes when you walk around. If it falls to zero you won’t be able to move on to the next floor.
That already makes Sorcery Saga more forgiving than say Shiren the Wanderer which kicks Shiren back to town if he has an empty stomach. Reviving Kuu is easy too, you can feed Kuu any item in your inventory. Most of items like plates of rice, potions, and even weapons restore some of Kuu’s fullness. Feeding Kuu also levels your companion up and grants Kuu more abilities. Pupuru can learn skills from books too and you start the game with a fire skill which reaches enemies two squares in front of Pupuru. Even if you get wiped out, you still keep your skills. Since your level resets to zero every time you enter a dungeon, the key to Sorcery Saga or any roguelike is to create and (arguably more importantly) retain strong gear. At home, you can squirrel items away in Pupuru’s item box, but while you’re inside a dungeon your inventory is pretty tiny. I found myself feeding Kuu most of the stuff I found on the ground so I had space unidentified weapons. Pupuru can also cook curry in dungeons which grants her buffs.
Some items unlock scenes which you can watch in the library’s Character Theater. These little diversions don’t add to the overall story, but are similar to the skits from the Tales series. The library also has important game data like lists of seals, items, and monsters. Pupuru will run into Replicorn, a giant walking corn cob, and Juicy Eggplant, which is an eggplant with a mustache and feathered hat. Remember when I said Sorcery Saga doesn’t take itself seriously? That’s what makes Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God charming.
I can’t remember the last traditional roguelike I played, so it was nice to see Aksys bring this over. Also, something else to note is even though this game is from Compile Heart it doesn’t have the kind of stuff you would see in say Record of Agarest War or Neptunia. Sorcery Saga eschews unnecessary pandering for the most part. The only thing a little creepy is how Gigadis, this demon lord dude, keeps proposing to Pupuru. While Sorcery Saga won’t satiate players craving for a colossal quest, the blend of cute and cerebral gameplay is refreshing.