App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Swag and Sorcery feels like a bit of an odd fit on mobile. Despite being designed to accommodate portrait-mode play, this management game is both weirdly needy and yet also pretty mindless. There’s some enjoyment to be had with this unique formula, but it also requires a pretty high degree of tolerance and persistence to enjoy.
In Swag and Sorcery, your task is to build up your kingdom’s warriors so they can quest to find the king’s missing suit because... apparently it’s a dope suit. This silly and lighthearted premise is appropriate for what is similarly a colorful and light management game.
Most of the game consists of managing your guild of heroes by sending them out on quests. While out, they fight enemies and collect materials, which you can then use to craft powerful gear and level up your units. With these more powerful units, you can then go on harder quests and the cycle repeats itself.
Swag and Sorcery is pretty unremarkable in its structure, but it does a lot of small things to give itself personality and make it more enjoyable than it might otherwise be. In addition to its fun tone, this game requires a surprising amount attention compared to most other management titles, particularly on mobile.
This is kind of where things get weird with Swag and Sorcery, though. Despite containing tons of the hallmarks of idle game design, there’s almost nothing you can do in this game idly. This is to say that your heroes fight automatically, for example, but you need to micromanage when they might need to retreat and rest. Similarly, the game has fashion contests where you try to show off your guild member with the coolest loot, but you can (and sometimes must) enhance your chances of winning by strategically bribing judges in real time.
Almost everything you “do” in Swag and Sorcery is just like this. From moving individual guildmates to craft gear to leveling up your units, everything takes just enough time, attention, and tapping that you’re always having to drive things along manually and with intention, even though none of it requires a ton of thought.
Depending on who you are, this slightly more “meaty” kind of management game could feel more satisfying, or just annoying. For me, I found that it gave Swag and Sorcery a painfully slow start, though that gave way to a more memorable and compelling experience the more time I put into it.
After breaking through this wall though, I’m still not in love with Swag and Sorcery. This is mostly because the whole experience isn’t as elegant as it should be. For a game where you’re mostly tapping through menus, the idea of having to tap and drag people from building to building or that you need guild staff at buildings to craft materials at all seems needlessly clunky and complicated.
I believe this is the kind of “slow burn” gameplay Swag and Sorcery is going for, but it’s an acquired taste. Even after dumping hours into the game, I feel like I’m invested because of the satisfaction I get from crossing things off a quest log, but not because I find performing the actions to do this are particularly satisfying.
The bottom line
Between the slow start and annoying design, Swag and Sorcery is hard sell. Although it presents plenty of fresh twists on a pretty standard formula, it puts up too much resistance when it comes to actually engaging with any of it. Perhaps if there are some updates that make playing it less cumbersome (which is possible given the quick support for bug fixes the game has received so far), the grind will be more tolerable, but for now, it’s not.