The game follows a British teenager named Simon, who is transported to a magical world when he follows his dog into the attic. He soon finds himself on a quest to become a sorcerer so he can save the wizard who has seemed to have brought him there.
The game's premise is pretty bare, but it is bolstered by its humorous take on the game's magical world. From the ogres trying to make Simon into a stew to the creatures in the forest, there is plenty of humorous whimsy to be found. The entire Simon the Sorcerer series is a bit rough around the edges, simply because Simon is a bit of a harsh protagonist. However, Simon's voice actor delivers his lines in a way that manages to make him a character that you root for, despite his shortcomings. It also helps that Simon's sadism is toned down a lot here compared to his future outings.
Some of the games in the series can get a bit crazy with the logic of its puzzles, but, the puzzles here are quite well done. This game is often regarded as a classic, and the presentation has a lot to do with that. The art style is fantastic. The backgrounds have a lot of detail despite their low resolution. The animations of Simon and the other characters are also fantastic. The art in this game easily stands up with the best that Sierra and LucasArts had to offer at the time. The music also helps to set the tone of the game, including a memorable title song that is bolstered by some fantastic credit animation.
Simon's first outing is by far his most welcoming. The humor can get a bit dark, but it's nowhere near the level of the sadism that Simon shows in later games. The game's presentation is where it really shines. The art style, voice acting, music, and puzzles are all well done. Simon the Sorcerer is a game that is worth playing for any adventure game fan.
Update: July 10, 2018 - Since I posted this review, the 25th Anniversary Edition has been released. This version is developed by MojoTouch using ScummVM. It intends to simplify things by giving options from a custom menu to use alternate sound sources such as MT32 music, or James Woodcock's excellent remake of the music in the game. It also gives an option to have original or high definition graphics, but the latter simply uses one of ScummVM's graphics filters.
The biggest drawback of the 25th Anniversary Edition is that, despite using ScummVM, the shortcut key to get back to the ScummVM menu doesn't work. This means that you'll be stuck using the options in the custom menu, and they're severely lacking from what you can do in ScummVM proper. The good news is that the data hasn't been rearranged, so the 25th Anniversary Edition is still worth buying, as it's a snap to load up ScummVM and have it detect the game. After that, you can play the game with whatever bells and whistles you want, even if you choose to have none at all.
4½ out of 5