Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming, tedious, and not very rewarding for your effort. It will confuse you by teleporting you to some unknown portion of a dungeon or destroy you with traps. But underneath all of this, you get to see the underpinnings of a series that paved the way for RPG’s the world over. Heralded as the series that brought Dungeons and Dragons-style gameplay to PC, Wizardry started in 1981, with the latest spin-off releasing 30 years later.
Wizardry: LoLS is a dungeon-crawler RPG set in first person. You guide your party through corridors and rooms in search of whatever it is you are on a quest for at the time, only to backtrack to the town (your main hub) to turn the quest in. It’s just as exhausting as it would sound but, being pretty much a replica of the series it is a part of , it was as I expected it would be. While you have a full party of 6 characters of blending races and classes, your main character, or Leader, is how you start the game.
Each character has their own story arch. You roll your basic stats after picking your race and gender and, depending on the stat points you assign, you pick which class you will be playing. Options are just as archaic as the game itself but, again, that’s kind of the beauty of the game. At this point you will fill out your party at the guild and venture forward.
There are two dungeons in the game, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this game lacks content. One trip into the dungeon and back (and this is an example from the beginning of the game, around character level 4) can take you a half hour. A smart RPG player will fill out their party with a variety of classes, keeping the magic users at the back, and the physical fighters at the front.
Magic is a pain to use at first. Until your magic users level up, they will have very limited use in battle. Spells are split up by level, and each level contains four spells. However, the crux of this is that each level of spell has a certain amount of MP. Have I mentioned this is cast in the mold of RPG’s from the early-mid 80’s? But while it may be troublesome in the beginning it pays off in later levels when you can demolish a whole slew of enemies with one simple wave of fire.
Enemies are very typical from the era the game is based upon. And much like your party, only the front row can attack at any given time. Besides experience and money, they might drop weapons, armor, or other useful items, though they all have to be identified back at the shop.
I must add, the dungeon floors are HUGE. It took me a dozen trips into the first dungeon to chart the whole first floor and that amazed me. I took a quest into the second dungeon and, while it didn’t take quite as long, it was just as massive (I was also tougher). However, being old-school in nature, LoLS makes you trek from staircase to staircase, floor by floor. Thankfully there’s an elevator but it will be quite a few hours before you are an established dungeon crawler that can use it. Because in order to use it you must find the switch that unlocks the room with the elevator.
One complaint I have is the lack of treasure. I love exploring and charting out the dungeons (the square button, which accesses your canvas-of-a-map, will be your best friend), and have no complaints with that system, but only one or two treasure chests per floor seems kind of disappointing. And the loot itself, again, is very old and generic, but that part I can’t complain about because that is what they are going for. But having more of a reward than there is would have been nice.
Everything is as it should be if you remember these style of games. I think if they added an option to modernize the game a little in the settings, this game would appeal to many more people than just the niche crowd that I sit in. Being able to compare equipment and having an item that teleports you out of the dungeon (nothing is worse than finding your way back to town with a few party members’ corpses in tow) would be the two biggest contemporary modifications I would make to the game.
I personally loved my experience with this game. If I only bought a few games a year, Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls would be on my list as it delivers more content for $15 than most games on PSN. There’s also a new scenario for $8 that adds more dungeon-crawling goodness, all for a total value of a little more than $20. This game is not for everyone, but any RPG fan should at least give it a try to see how the genre began.
Pros: loads of content, huge dungeons, very true to its predecessors, platinum trophy
Cons: very true to its predecessors, a very niche market