Wizardry 8, released in 2001, is the final game in the legendary Wizardry series of dungeon crawler RPGs, which dates all the way back to 1981. The game came out in an era when the game industry was rapidly changing, so it was kind of a relic of a by-gone era even back when it was new. It is because of that reason the game stands out to me so much.
As the progenitor of such an old game franchise, Wizardry 8 has a bunch of quirks that distinguish it from virtually all of its contemporaries. For instance, dialogue is parser-based, meaning that when you converse with game characters, you have to manually write keywords that you want to inquire them about. There are no dialogue options to choose from, the game expects you to pay attention to the clues it provides and figure out yourself on what you should talk about to progress in the story.
It’s the combination of these primordial dungeon crawler mechanics with (at the time) new 3D gameplay that really makes this game stand out. Wizardry 8 brought the series to the third dimension, but stayed true to the gameplay formula of its 2D predecessors. Thus you control a group of 6 adventurers that move together as a unit like in many other dungeon crawlers with turn-based combat, the only difference being that the game world is 3-dimensional. This means that you have to take terrain and party formation into consideration at all times, as your party faces increasingly demanding foes. In open spaces your party gets flanked easily, leaving your spell casters and other weak characters vulnerable to attacks.
It’s this tactical element that makes Wizardry 8 very engaging. As you control 6 different characters simultaneously, there are many factors to take into consideration in combat. The formation of your party, the range of their attacks, switching between weapons, utilizing the right kind of spells to give you the advantage when facing overwhelming opposition and so on. There’s not much else to this game besides combat, but it provides a huge amount of depth and options to how you approach it.
The most robust feature of the game is the level of customization you have. As you assemble a party of 6 characters at the start of your adventure, you have 15 different classes and 11 different races to choose from, all with their unique strengths and weaknesses. Even beyond that you can develop your individual characters in multiple different ways by deciding which stats and skills you choose to level. The multiclassing option provides even further depth for veteran players.
My favorite feature of the character customization however is the fact that you can assign a different voice & personality type to your different characters. There’s a large roster of well-acted, if cartoonish performances to choose from. You can even assign a male character a female voice or vice versa. It’s this huge range of options offered to you from the get-go that keeps me coming back to Wizardry 8. I highly recommend it to fans of deep RPGs.
Screenshots taken from: https://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/wizardry-8/screenshots
Title: Wizardry 8
Developer: Sir-Tech Canada
Platform: PC (Windows)