Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Wizardry 8 – The End of the Beginning

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 23, 2015

Wizardry_8_boxSeveral years ago, I played Wizardry 8. This was many years after its initial release, back in the day when the only way to get a (legal) copy was to buy one off E-Bay for more than its new cost… sans manual or the original box. Fortunately, there are cheaper, better, digital options today, particularly on Steam and GOG.com. At the time, it felt like Wizardry 8 was the (belated, for me) swan song for an entire subgenre. It was definitely something I wanted to check out, as I was an indie diving back into that long-lost subgenre and trying to remember exactly what it felt like.

Other role-playing games were jumping on the 3D bandwagon with both feet to provide a single-character action-y experience reminiscent of the popular FPS (First-Person Shooter) genre (albeit often more as a ‘third-person’ action game). But the long-standing computer RPG series Wizardry and Might & Magic took the 3D route while sticking to their turn-based, party-based roots… at least partly, offering their old fans turn-based gameplay. Maybe this wasn’t to their financial benefit, I don’t know.

With the company’s failure after the 2001 release, it seemed like the days of the “old-school” western-style RPG was over. Possibly forever, save for a few small indie games.

It was the “small indie games” thing that changed everything. Back when I played it, anything with a budget of more than a few thousand dollars was steering well clear of this approach. And as far what RPG Codex calls a “blobber” or “blob with legs” (a first-person game where your avatar is a party ‘blob’ – a group of adventurers that you don’t really see), well, you had almost nothing.  Wizardry 8 was the last gasp… and on playing it, warts and all, I felt some loss.

BugTrap-705606I chronicled my adventures (and excessive complaints about the length of the combats… the Achilles’ heel of this game, IMO, the one flaw that spoils an otherwise fantastic game) in a series of blog posts at the time, which were lost and purged last year over security issues for this website. I still have copies of ’em, archived, but other folks have asked me to make them available again. Since I’m up to my eyeballs getting this Frayed Knights 2 demo ready for a show in about six weeks, I figured… what better time to save myself some effort and re-post the whole series!

However, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I’m doing a little bit of editing here and there, and adding some commentary from today’s perspective, turning this into simultaneously a first-time playthrough and a retrospective.

But here’s the joyous, wonderful bit: Since I wrote this, the landscape has changed a lot. For the good, I hope. Besides my own humble efforts with Frayed Knights, a whole lot  more indies – and bigger-budget indies – and even non-indies – have taken up the torch. The old-school, western-style RPG is back. Even at the time, folks like Spiderweb Software and Basilisk Games that were solidly rooted in the game style, if not the first-person perspective. Nowadays, it has exploded, to the point where “old-school” has become kind of a meaningless marketing term, but we’ve even had a surge of first-person perspective party-based titles, like Legend of Grimrock, Might & Magic X: Legacy, Paper Sorcerer, Swords & Sorcery: Underworld, Elminage Gothic, and even an upcoming new sequel to The Bard’s Tale (kickstarter ending soon, pledge now if keen on the idea) and a proposed spiritual sequel to Dragon Wars (currently called Shredded Worlds: Dragons of the Rip… I’m not in love with the title, but I do like the concept) by a bunch of old-school veterans calling themselves, amusingly, Olde Skuul.

Wiz8_SS1So I guess Wizardry 8 was in many ways The End of the Beginning of that style of computer role-playing game. Maybe they can duke it out with Might & Magic 9, released six months later, for that honor. But really, it was hibernation – waiting for the seasons to change, and for the climate to no longer favor only the big lumbering giants with the biggest budgets. They aren’t exactly the same – nor should be – but many of them are solidly rooted in the ideas forged by these earlier games, like Wizardry 8. Because even now, well over a decade since its original release, it turns out that this game was FRICKING FUN. A kind of fun that was scarce for a while. And it’s still fun now.

And so, with that, I’m gonna bring back that old article series, along with a few side-articles and commentaries. And if you really want to have fun, you can grab yourself a copy and play along.

Either way, I hope you have fun.



Filed Under: Wizardry 8 - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • T2.0 said,

    Excellent 🙂
    Thanks again !