Sorcerer King involves a powerful sorcerer who has conquered the land. What remains are the remnants of self-ruling kingdoms that are technically under his influence. Players need to seek these lesser kings out and convince them to form an alliance against a greater threat.

Starting with a single castle, players are encouraged to explore and expand their kingdom by clearing out dangerous monsters and setting up a series of outposts and castles. Having more than one castle is merely a nicety for gathering resources. It's far more important to get together one or two armies and use them to gain experience. Leveling up is a long uphill climb, since you don't have the resources to craft better armor.

Although the game encourages you to make alliances, it doesn't offer a lot of means to do so. You can exchange resources with factions that you encounter, but unless you're willing to make some key trade-offs for friendship, none of it has an impact on how well you regard each other. The best way to win a faction over is to do a favor for them, but sometimes their quests are so vague that they're near impossible to complete.

Sorcerer King has a lot of great ideas, but they don't always jell. Level progression is slow, so losing experienced soldiers is painful. Oftentimes, the game has you wandering the world, trying to complete a vague quest, and hoping that it will bring you closer to defeating the King. All the while, the King starts to get wise to your motives and begins a crackdown. After hours of going back and forth, you may start to wonder if the world was worth the time it took to save it.

-- (TNS)


PLOT Stop the Sorcerer King from doing that old black magic.

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DETAILS PC, $39.99

BOTTOM LINE You may not find it spellbinding.