Flash Friday: Sort The Court

It has recently come to my attention that I rarely ever review new games for Flash Friday. Most of the game’s I’ve reviewed were made over five years ago or possibly even longer ago than that. The only real exception is Medieval Cop but that series is still a year old. So, I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to try and balance the amount of new games and old games I review. I don’t want to completely phase out the old ones as it’s important to remember the classics, but that doesn’t mean I should ignore the more recent gems to grace the Internet. Today, I’m starting with Sort the Court. Lately, for some unknown reason, it has been blowing up on Youtube which in most cases, is an instant ticket to overpowering reputation and fame. That doesn’t mean the game is exempt from criticism however. Games and the like can easily be overhyped and made out to be better than they actually are in this day and age and my intention today is to find out whether there really is something special about this apparent ‘masterpiece’. Is it really as good as it has been made out to be?

Sort the Court is as simple as it gets in terms of gameplay. People come up to you and ask a question. You then answer them by pressing Y for ‘yes’ or N for ‘no’. Depending on whether you answer them ‘yes’ or ‘no’, either positive or negative things can happen that affect your three stats: population, happiness and gold. These choices can be anything from giving a dragon gold so it doesn’t eat your people to hiring strange characters to investigate mysterious happenings or kill monsters to simply choosing to drink a cup of tea your butler prepared for you or not. The goal of the game is to indirectly create a bustling city through your choices and get into the esteemed Council of Crowns. Despite how boring this game probably sounds, it’s actually surprisingly addicting and fun due to a number of reasons.

First of all, the characters that come to you in your court are vibrant and colourful. Each of them have their own unique design that makes them stand out, and most of them are recurring! You’ll be seeing certain characters quite a lot, and each of them can help you in different ways. If you allow the blacksmith to setup shop, he’ll occasionally give you a gift of gold to thank you and sell you swords to keep your city safe and happy. Chester will give you a lot of gold if you let him eat some of your people and eventually, he’ll ask you to find a way to break the curse upon him that forces him to eat innocent people to survive. This leads you to ask for help from another character: the witch. Some of the characters such as Chester have their own mini-arcs where you can help to solve their problems in exchange for great rewards. Everything feels interconnected and it’s rewarding to help your loyal subjects out.

Unfortunately, this is where the game’s problems arise. Some choices are just very obviously the right choice. As I mentioned above, the blacksmith will offer you gifts of gold for free to say thanks, and you have the choice to decline him. Why the hell would you decline him? I must of accepted over ten gifts from him throughout the game and not once did it result in something bad happening. As well as that, the order in which the characters come to you is completely random, meaning if you’re unlucky, certain character and story arcs can take ages to resolve. One of the game’s biggest ones involves forging a sword to kill a nearby dragon threatening your town and finding a hero to wield the blade. Eventually, the blacksmith forged the sword for me and I was tasked with finding a worthy hero to wield it. The first and only hero to come to me was a suspicious thief who I did not allow to take the sword. Over ten days later, and not a single other hero came to me. Once again, the thief came, but just wanting to get rid of the dragon, I gave it to her. Consequently, the townspeople became unhappy I had just giving the sword to a criminal.

Also, the game sometimes doesn’t give you enough information on the choices. For example, there were many an occasion where a character asked for money but it never really specified how much money they wanted. This led to me going into debt twice, but despite this, I still found the game quite easy. Those two times I went into debt were the only times I went into debt, my citizens always had enough happiness and my population was in a constant state of perpetual growth. The difficulty is only really a minor complaint however as I wasn’t really looking for a challenge. Anyway, I’ve been negative for too long. Sort the Court’s music and cutesy graphics are top-notch for a free online game and they kept me engrossed for quite a while. It took me an hour and a bit to get into the Council of Crowns which is considered the end of the game. If you still have some unresolved stuff to take care of however, the game let’s you play past this point indefinitely which is a nice addition.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed Sort the Court. It proved a pleasant distraction and despite its simplicity, I never really got bored of it. Some characters and choices appear way too often-I can’t tell you the amount of times I hired Skelly or gave Little Timmy a gold coin-but it doesn’t detract all that much from the overall experience. Sort the Court’s recent popularity isn’t surprising considering how easy it is to get into and how hard it is to get out of. Sort the Court will prove a memorable experience at the very least due to how much it stands out from the crowd and you’ll probably be tempted to revisit it in the near future thanks to its charm and allure. It’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of gameplay, but I don’t think I’ve played a single game that nails its presentation as much as Sort the Court.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Cutesy graphics
  • Nice music
  • Recurring, colourful characters
  • Easy to grasp and get into
  • Decent length(around an hour)
  • Can play past the ‘end of the game’

Cons:

  • Game doesn’t give you enough feedback on some choices
  • Too easy
  • Some choices are very obviously the right choice
  • Some choices appear way too often
  • Due to random order of choices, can take ages to get a certain arc resolved

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

Play the game for free here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/graebor/sort-the-court

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