Friday, 27 August 2010

Wizardry 8 - PC *Masterpiece*

"Grimpack the Mook hired you as an escort for a long voyage. He didn't say where you were going  .  .  . "

.  .  . and with these ludicrous yet immortal words begins the greatest expression of hardcore cRPG gaming the denizens of planet Earth have yet produced. Seamlessly splicing the good things old-school RPG's brought to the tabletop with the glittery trappings of the new school. Wizardry 8 was the culmination of 20 long years of cRPG evolution: making it a great ape amongst hordes of pitiable, gibbering; makak's, marmoset's and lemur's. This was software house SirTech's swan song and it hits a high note very few others can match.

The world and its many proclivities are well established: combining both the high-tech and sorcerous with aplomb. What a disappointment when every supposed fantasy world is populated by the same tedious gobloids and stunted misfits as Tolkien's was some 70 years ago: then embellished with a hodge-podge of creatures chosen at random from world mythology. Not quite so with Wizardry: your party may consist of Faeries, Mooks and Androids and while wondering the realm you may encounter Battering Hogar's, a Drunken Rapax or heaven forbid a Kaos Kube: at worst you may sight a Golem. There is a hint of cyberpunk, not a rehash of that genres tropes but quite an unusual combination of anti-heroes, artificial intelligence, doom-laden techno-magic and at the stories core: a pervasive sense of irony.

Looking at the party members: humans suddenly seem rather exotic.

Wizardry's character development is amongst the best in any RPG, marrying experience from level gains with good ol'fashioned practice: allowing for a bizarre range of career options. The combat system is equally well developed: seamlessly transferring from real-time exploration to turn based battle. There is a plot arc of bewildering proportions stretching back to Wizardry 6: yet you are free to meander the entire world on a whim. The addition of randomly spoken dialogue from your party members in most games is painful . . . not so here: actually adding personalities that aren't toe-curlingly offensive. Dungeon design, script, sound track, story arc; excellent, excellent, excellent etc: this game has quality in spades.

The days before eBay

Played on Iron-Man mode the challenge is unforgiving especially for an inexperienced gamer: but this is how it was meant to be played: the fear of death made palpable indeed almost real as 40 hours of you actual life go to waste as you are set upon by Ratkin Goon's. People with things to do and appointments to keep need not apply.

Flamstryke's Pre-eminent Fansite
Ironworks Wizardry 8 Forum
Wizardry Walkthrough's
Editors and Mods

The Wizardry series is hugely popular in Japan yet it is the antithesis of the typical console RPG; with their anodyne game-worlds populated by buffon haired monosyllabic sociopaths possessed with about as much personality as a bowl of rice. OK, that was a bit harsh: the Japanese have made some truly phenomenal games, just not many like this: that may explain its popularity and vica-versa. It is possible to export characters from Wizardry 6 through 7 and into 8: this game arc is perhaps the most challenging feat of human endeavour available to mankind: making Shackleton's expedition seem like a light stroll after xmas dinner. There will almost certainly never be a Wizardry 9. Imagination, humour, and depth, when software is rated on these criteria we, as a civilisation, will be getting somewhere.


  1. This is very interesting... can you download this online and play it or is this a CD game?

  2. I love this game, I played it when it came out. I was eight at the time and it sparked my gaming bug! I'll be picking a new copy of it soon as our old one got lost :)

    Great post.