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Wizardry 8

  • Name: Wizardry 8
  • Platforms: Windows PC
  • Date Released: 2001

Ah, but nothing is ever quite so easy. The chase sent the adventurers to another planet where the final stand took place. Prophecies were fulfilled, the fate of worlds was resolved, and the planets just kept on turning…

Of course, there’s a lot more to each of these games than just these few paragraphs (including massive amounts of tongue-in-cheek humor), but in the interest of trying to be as spoiler-free as possible, these brief summaries should suffice to give you a taste of the rich lore for which this series is celebrated.

In short, the original Wizardry games developed by Sir-Tech are very special – both for their content and for their historical significance. Unlike most other RPGs of the era, the initial series received seven proper sequels, all of which were translated to Japanese. Having found unprecedented success in the east, Japan was eventually passed the torch, and the series continued under the guiding hands of countless enthusiastic developers.

One of the things that made the Wizardry series so magical was its sheer depth. In its earlier days, Wizardry had a lot in common with its more famous cousin, The Bard’s Tale. Grid-based dungeons, first-person viewpoint, player-generated party… That was the bread and butter of those games.

Wizardry also followed some of its tabletop gaming compatriots in having advanced classes that required higher stats, and these advanced classes blended eastern and western flavor in careful balance.

Alignment was always a major focal point, as well – good and evil characters simply never worked well together; and although later games adopted other systems in place of alignment (karma in Wizardry 7, for example), the simple elegance of good, neutral and evil alignment became a recognizable trait of the series, and served as an inspiration for countless other game developers.

Game mechanics also became more intense with time. The player could customize specific characters with stats and skills from specific classes to make that character hit 6+ times per round, or kill an enemy with one hit from the shadows. Magic, too, became more complex with each outing, with status effects ranging from petrification to “itching.”

Even a concept as basic as skill usage was given some additional depth, particularly in the later games – once a character’s stats were at max (along with other criteria, depending on the game), special skills would unlock to further enhance his/her abilities.

While the story of the Wizardry series was never its primary focus, each game featured a mystery to unravel and numerous well-written character interactions that afforded the player a chance to really connect with his/her characters and become immersed within the game world. Later games even featured multiple endings depending on the faction to which you’d fostered the closest ties, and each of these factions always had its own flavor and character.

Bringing one of the new-wave Japanese Wizardry games to North America offers old fans an opportunity to see how the same seeds sprouted different fruit, and gives new fans a chance to discover this long and storied series for the first time.

This is the Wizardry Renaissance. And for as much as the series has changed over the years… it’s still largely the same as it always has been. Just as it should be.

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