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Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls
Score: 70%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Acquire
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
The visuals in Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls are, well you can't quite call them dated, but they do feel that way in some ways. This is a menu-driven game, with those menus being plain black and white to boot. Characters are represented by still portraits, as are enemies, and towns. The flickers of animation in the game come from spells and attacks, which aren't even connected to a sword or an arm (an ice spell will trigger a block of ice, a sword slash will trigger a simple slashing arc animation). Dungeons are done in that almost pseudo-3D style that's reminiscent of Phantasy Star from the Sega Master System. I say almost because although it is "real" 3D, it doesn't look much more advanced or detailed than the pseudo-3D done on the nearly 25 year old Phantasy Star, which was actually "faked" 3D. Is it bad? Nah, but it's simple, very simple.

The music is likewise generic and expected. Battles have the kind of energetic, orchestral battle theme you've heard in a hundred other turn-based, traditional RPGs, the town has a light, harpsichord tune, the item shop has an "exotic" flavored drum-driven song, etc. It's all nicely executed, but again, expected.

I feel like I can't be playing this game, in this year, with the climate of games the way they are. No one could possibly be releasing a game like this now. But no, it's real. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is an old-school RPG that never leaves the narrow tracks left by its predecessors. You start your adventure in a wall of menus. You can visit the Inn, the Shop, the Temple, etc., but all through menus. You read mountains of conversation text. There are hints of a story here and there, but you'll have to talk to people multiple times to get the full story. When you're ready, you select the dungeons from the menu, and then you're off. It's an old school formula to the extreme.

To expand a bit more on the game, you've got your typical RPG classes like Thief, Fighter, Mage and Priest. There are some more variations on the theme, but they all stick to about the same spells and skills, with some perks for each class. You've got a variety of races, including Human, Elf, Gnome, and Dwarf. At least I can say the game doesn't hold itself to the typical archetypes here. The Dwarf male is a giant, tanned guy, for one. The Gnomes just look like anime kids, and the Porklus are, well, kids from the other side of town, I guess.

Things progress like a typical RPG, however, with leveling and equipment being the keys to success. You'll map out each dungeon by carefully exploring, and surviving through planning and strategy. Alignments like Good, Evil and Neutral come into play if you want to create a certain kind of party, and get a certain kind of reaction. A balanced party is essential, as you never know when you'll need a Mage to combat an elemental creature, or the brute strength of a Fighter to take down a tough opponent, for example.

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is unforgiving, and unrelenting. In the beginning, especially, you'll run into a lot of enemies you're just not ready for. I say it's nigh impossible if you're not accustomed to the genre. If you've never played an RPG in your life, Wizardry will not hold your hand through this one. There is no tutorial. You'll glean clues from things that townsfolk tell you, and from paying close attention to fights and stats, but often this information comes too late to do you any good. Your party will wipe, and you'll be starting over quite a few times, essentially learning the hard way.

Also, this RPG holds to the hardcore philosophy that your character can die. Forever. That's right, there's a bit of luck involved in resurrection, so you might not get that powerhouse character back if she bites it during a fight.

That being said, if you have played an RPG or two in your day, you'll likely pick up Wizardry quite easily. And if you're still holding on at this point in the review, there's good news to come for this particular kind of player.

Game Mechanics:
The formula here in Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls sticks with the classics. You've got turn-based combat with little required of you but to make decisions about your next attack. The menu performs, well, as well as a black and white text menu will perform. There's a lot in this game that's not done for you. Find an unknown weapon? You can't use it until you trek back through the dungeon and find someone who will look at it for you (unless you have the help of a certain class in your party). Did I mention that each character in your party has their own inventory? Item management fans will be kids in a candy store here. The shortcuts found in modern RPGs, at least the console variety, have not found their way to this game.

That's pretty much the game, not much new, and not much in the way of surprises. But should you play it? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. As little as this game does that is actually new, it does do everything well. This is your basic RPG, nothing but the essentials, short and sweet. And you know what, if you can get over that, it's a nice little game, even addictive. I found myself mapping the depths of each dungeon, experimenting with spells, and learning how everything ticked. It pulls you in, the way any good RPG will pull you in. It's not so simple that it requires little thought to play, but it's still a kind of mesmerizing, almost relaxing game for fans of the genre.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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