A samurai, a valkyrie, and a bishop walk into a bar…
That’s either the start of a really lame joke, or a regular play session of one of the definitely non-lame Wizardry games. Although the Valkyries didn’t appear until Wizardry 6. No matter…
Ye Olde Day (and Night) Job gave me Sunday off, so I managed to pour a few hours into playing my new acquisition, Wizardry 8. Yes, all this talk of new RPGs hitting the store shelves, and I’m thrilled about getting my hands on a seven-year-old game (Editorial note: Now it’s been almost as long since this was originally posted. Time flies!).
I am just a few hours into it, but I’m mighty pleased. Why?
#1 – The world and storyline are intriguing. I was never a huge fan of the mega-epic plot-line of the power to create and destroy the entire universe and all that from the previous two games, but I’m not minding it so much here. The game starts you out with a trite imperative (you are the sole survivors of a crashed space ship, and have to survive and save the universe), but the monastery section was focused and felt a little like unfolding a mystery, full of hints and clues to a bigger picture. I love that.
#2 – TACTICS! Holy cow, this game reminds me of how fun turn-based, party-based RPGs can be. Granted, Wizardry 8 probably takes it a little overboard, with party movement and positioning, party formations, and everything. But still, I’m having a great time with it. I got clobbered in a combat on the road to Arnika last night, and found myself considering all the things I could have done differently to have won. Too often, in RPGs these days, it really comes down to having been too unlucky, too slow on the healing-potion button, or not having saved during the middle of the battle often enough. Here, it was a case of me encountering a new monster type and underestimating their capabilities.
#3 – The monastery – the first “dungeon” – was not a run-of-the-mill miniature bunny-slope dungeon. I spent three hours of playtime in there, and dealt with multiple “boss monsters” and lots of exploration. Maybe I’ll get sick of similar dungeons with the same graphics set in the future, and I did play through some of this in the demo, but for now, I enjoyed it. I’m really a dungeon-crawler at heart, I guess.
#4 – I’m also a sucker for first-person perspective RPGs. Chalk it over to being more “immersive” or whatever – I’ve always preferred it. Not that I don’t love other perspectives, too (Ultima VII remains, to this day, my favorite RPG), but I love seeing the world through the eyes of my character(s).
#5 – STATS! Lots of juicy, geeky numbers. This might be a detriment for many players, but I really like the customization opportunities and being able to numerically compare my characters and my improvements as I level. Seriously, I get bugged by RPGs that seem to say, “Don’t worry your pretty little head about these big, scary statistics… just look at the eye-candy and you can see your character get cooler special effects!” Give me crunchy numbers, please. As much as I get into story and roleplaying and all that jazz, I’ve got repressed power-gamer tendencies that need to be exercised. (...)