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Wizardry's Back for Blood

The classic RPG series gets a new lease on life thanks to a Steam rerelease by retro specialists Night Dive Studios.

News by Pete Davison, .

RPGs -- be they Eastern or Western -- are a lot more forgiving than they used to be.

While they weren't quite roguelike-brutal "back in the day" -- you could at least, in most cases, reload a save game if things went disastrously wrong -- you certainly had to contend with things like permadeath, tricky puzzles, random encounters and potentially unknowingly straying into areas packed with monsters considerably stronger than your party. The fact that many games also allowed you to create your entire party also significantly increased the possibility of you assembling a completely incompetent team of adventurers who would be incapable of making it through their whole quest.

The Wizardry series stood on the front line of these brutally challenging experiences, daring its fans to delve into its deep dungeons and dishing out regular slaps in the face to those who got a bit too cocky for their own good -- and actually served as a significant influence on Japanese RPGs such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. The series later went on to enjoy considerable popularity in the East after getting across the initial stumbling block of the very Western cultural references, jokes and parodies in the early installments. Since the original release of Wizardry 8 -- the last entry in the "main" series -- subsequent games have been largely Japan-exclusive.

This is Wizardry 8, the last of the Sir-Tech-developed entries in the series.

This sort of RPG is something that we don't see all that often these days, though there is the odd exception -- the independently developed Legend of Grimrock successfully channelled the spirit of the old-school dungeon-crawler and brought it bang up to date with modern aesthetics, for example, and a similarly modernized remake of Realms of Arkania hit Steam a short while back. Alongside these PC titles, retro-style dungeon crawls have found a surprising home on handhelds thanks to the Etrian Odyssey series that Jeremy's so fond of, too, with the latest installment set to arrive in October this year.

As good as Etrian Odyssey is, though, there's value in revisiting the originators of a genre -- particularly when these games were designed to be replayed multiple times with different party lineups. It's fortunate, then, that retro specialists Night Dive Studios have resurrected the "Dark Savant" Wizardry trilogy -- that's the sixth, seventh and eighth games, if you're unfamiliar with the series as a whole -- and rereleased them all on Steam.

As much as the announcement of these games being on Steam would apparently like you to believe that this is the first time Wizardry has been available to modern gamers for some time, that's not quite the case. They've actually been available on GOG.com for a while now -- Wizardry 6 and 7 in one pack here and the eighth and final installment here.

The Steam re-rerelease of these three Wizardries doesn't come with a huge amount of Steam-exclusive features -- though Wizardry 8 does support Steam Cloud -- and as such where you choose to pick them up from should largely be determined by personal preference. The GOG versions do come with the soundtracks and digital versions of the printed materials that came in the original box, but many PC gamers enjoy the convenience of having easy access to all of their games via their Steam library. It's the same price either way, so take your pick -- just be ready for a challenge!

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Comments 9

  • Avatar for limbeckd #1 limbeckd 4 years ago
    I really should play more Wizardry 8 sometime. I played a little bit a while ago, and it seemed pretty impressive.

    I think the Etrian Odyssey games (I've only played the first) are pretty fun, but also quite a grind. I think that's a big part of why I prefer roguelikes for my dungeon crawling. Drawing maps is fun, though.
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #2 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    Also, the dev used the GoG screenshot on Steam. ;-)
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #3 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    wizardry is a jrpg series now, weird
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #4 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    @limbeckd Having played only IV, I'd strongly recommend giving it a go. I seriously dislike grinding, and the game rewards clever play and bold exploration rather than meaningless trips to the same place. The design is rather exquisite
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  • Avatar for limbeckd #5 limbeckd 4 years ago
    @renatocosta90 I'll keep that in mind. I don't play much handheld stuff these days, though.

    I just checked and I actually own the second one rather than the first. Lots of clearing the same floor repeatedly. Oh, a quest to stay in the dungeon for 3 days? That sounds like fun...or like running back and forth ad nauseum (it was optional, but still).

    I really do love the overall mechanics of the game, though. It makes me think of the Disgaea games, I think they're awesome, but know that I will never put the required amount of time into them. The Wizardry games are sadly probably in the same boat.
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  • Avatar for helpfulmole #6 helpfulmole 4 years ago
    @limbeckd@renatocosta90 I don't know if you have played Dark Spire for DS but you can feel the direct influence of Wizardry pouring out of it. It was actually way to hard for my taste but some people may enjoy it.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #7 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    @helpfulmole I haven't, but will make a point to check it out one way or another in the near future. I'm not playing much of anything this month, just salivating in expectation of Etrian Oddyssey Untold next month.
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  • Avatar for limbeckd #8 limbeckd 4 years ago
    @helpfulmole Thanks, Mr. I-have-an-appropriate-name, I will also keep an eye out for it.
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