Ritual: Sorcerer Angel
Developed and Published By: Hexage
Release Date: 09.12.2019
Ritual: Sorcerer Angel is a top-down action-RPG that has you slaying out enemy mobs in mass. You will take control of a human that has been possessed by an angel assassin who is hellbent to destroy the god of the cultists who are out to destroy him. Hordes of enemies come pouring out from all sides of the screen, and all you can do is cast spells and slash your way through them until you have made it through to the next level. Will you be able to defeat the cultists and their minions and reach the targeted god?
The angel assassin was the target of this cult because he is the only one with the power and determination to face their powerful one. Thus, when he escaped and took refuge inside a human’s body it really threw a wrench into the plans of the cultists. Not giving up they decide to send hordes of acolytes and minions at you until you are defeated, but sadly for them you don’t have a title like angel assassin for nothing. The story doesn’t get much deeper than that beyond the cutscenes of dialogue between each level that has the cultists plotting or your character telling them off in Sunday cartoon fashion with quips that sound like they came from a TMNT episode. Weak storytelling is a bummer, but the rest of the game does a good job making up for it.
From level to level you are tasked with defeating as many enemies as possible so that you can escape through a portal that allows you to get safely to the next level. The gameplay isn’t hard at all and doesn’t allow for a ton of hands-on action outside of directing where your character is headed. You auto attack when you get close to bad guys, and just need to get your character to keep bumping into them to trigger the sword slash. From there you can determine the speed of your character with the controller triggers between slowing down and speeding up. And then you have your spell casting which is really the only interesting part of the gameplay loop. These mechanics don’t allow for a ton of interaction, and I found myself bored sweeping through tons of enemies, but at least the spell system is pretty neat.
Spells in the game have a ton of customization. You can have two spells at a time besides passive effects that increase attack against certain units, give yourself extra lives, or many more options that work in the background while you auto hack ‘n’ slash. The two spells you actually use can be anything from a frost ray, to a fireball spell, to dropping chromatic orbs that deal random damage or effects to enemies as they bounce around. Obviously, some spells are more useful than others, but overall this is where you can get some of that much needed hands-on activity. However, there’s a catch, the directional spells auto aim for you at enemies and you have no control over it beyond trying to face towards the enemy you are trying to attack. Spamming spells like fireball have the shots go all over the screen in random directions towards any enemies in your vicinity. This isn’t the end of the world, but again takes more of the action out of your hands. It sucks that you get such a high level of customization over your loadout but then don’t get to actually choose your targets or use your own skill and accuracy. You just hit the “shoot” button…
The biggest reason that is an issue is due to how progression works in each level. You and all the enemies on the screen start out at the base level, and as you defeat the low-level baddies you gain levels that allow you to take on stronger enemies. The bumping system for attacks measures how high of a level you are and then determines whether you bumped into something you can cut, or whether you bumped into something that will blast you in a one hit kill. The only upper hand you have on these higher level enemies is that spells work on them regardless. So, you can attack them from a distance which lowers their level to a point that you can actually run up and best them, or just continue to blast them into oblivion. With spells you can damage any unit, regardless of level, so not being able to directly decide to target these characters with the spells you are shooting out makes for some frustrating gameplay as small units leap in front of your spells or get too close to allow you to target the big bosses.
You also cannot just spam the spells in order to alleviate this issue. You have to collect mana that is dropped from items in the level or defeated enemies in order to continue spell use. So, when you are targeting the high-level enemies and your auto target misses them you then have to farm the little guys while dodging the constant attacks from the bigger guys in order to be able to deal damage to them. This is okay as the farming also raises your level, which could get you to the point you can attack with your sword anyways, but still all of this together it a bit of a pain and feels like it wasn’t completely thought out.
Even through the monotony of the gameplay and the lack of player skill or strategy I still had a decent time playing through the gameplay. Besting enemy hordes is a good time, and the various spells you can use are fun to try out. I had dozens of chromatic orbs bouncing around the level that was filled with what felt like 50 enemies and it made me feel giddy. I just think the gameplay doesn’t offer enough to keep players’ attention for long. You have a lot lacking here and this is the sort of experience that would probably be best played in short bursts to avoid boredom.
The best part of the game is probably the art style. The game has bright colors and dark shadows and altogether is very aesthetically pleasing. Enemy design is minimalist, with a cartoon flair, and it was enjoyable seeing the mass quantities of variations on enemy units and types. Levels are designed to allow for the mobs to gather together so you can take advantage of some of the group killing spells and effects and so you can really pair spell selection to level design.
Overall, I think Ritual: Sorcerer Angel is a fun little title that has just made a couple mistakes. You have some great artwork and intelligent level design paired with a seriously deep spell system. But the game takes all of this motivation from you when it presents you with crazy attack spells and a large mob of enemies to unleash them on and doesn’t even allow you to choose when to attack and who to shoot the spells at. Honestly, a player could use a couple rubber bands to make the character move around on his own and the game would almost play itself. Hard to recommend to anyone besides those that are looking for a quick and easy experience, or those that are tickled by just playing with different spell effects.
Buy Now – $9.99
*The Switch Effect was provided a review code for this game*