Our story takes place in the peaceful kingdom of Duhan, until one day a sphere of light from the heavens shatters the evening sky… Thousands are killed and the kingdom is in ruins… Demonic creatures from the underworld have emerged and the Queen of Duhan has disappeared into the labyrinths beneath the castle. The labyrinths are said to hold the greatest treasures in the land, but will you survive long enough to enjoy them…
When was the last time you played a dungeon crawler that actually crawled? Stripped down from all the finesse of newer, better-looking RPG’s, it’s easy to dismiss Wizardry as a dinosaur. But with Wizardry comes a history lesson – ingrained into the simple graphics and frame-by-frame game play is the beginnings of all RPG’s. From Dungeon Siege to Dragon Quest, Wizardry is the granddaddy of maze mastery.
Mums the Sword
The graphics in Wizardry go too far back, perhaps. 2D characters spring from the gloom and assail you with lines of text. When not reading, you’re sliding through the dungeon frame by frame – thankfully, the dungeons look good, with sporadic but definitive detail in the areas (you at least know when you’re outside). Since you never see you party except for when the 2D image of them appears before your eyes, the only real excitement comes from the battles – and the battles are not bad, with fantastically conceived 3D characters that are well drawn. The magic spells tend to be less than spectacular, and the animation when you strike an enemy is unimpressive.
The sounds in Wizardry come off a little better, thanks to a haunting and strange musical score. In some parts of the game, the score lifts up and becomes heroic and filled with tension-in others, the music simmers to an atmospheric and moody resonance, almost lulling you to sleep, until you come across your next group of monsters. There is no voice in the game, which is a shame since the storyline is so rich and involved, and the special effects, like the spell casting, don’t contain the needed energy to make the spells believable.
The controls are basic for the beginning of the game, and then you meet with the Sowrdsman, who teaches you about Allied Attacks. Allied Attacks are much like the combination attacks in Forever Kingdom – it’s two or more party members working together to either destroy the enemy or protect a member. For the most part, the Allied Attacks are effective, but a little difficult to understand, and slightly difficult to perform. One of the attacks, the Restrict Shot requires a projectile throwing party member. If you’ve forgotten who that is, you may end up using the wrong person to defend against or fight with. It adds a definite level of depth to the game, but it may float slightly over the heads of people looking for more dragons and less dungeons.
Wizardry is not for everyone, and serves an even smaller niche in the small niche of role-playing console games. It is, however, a great game to showcase how far the genre has come, and at the same time show how little has changed. If you can devote some time and patience to Wizardry, you’ll soon discover why it was one of the most popular PC RPG’s ever. But in the world of flashier, harder hitting and more Hollywood style presentation of role-playing games, Wizardry may get lost in the labyrinth.