Man, what can you say about Wizardry? I’m not even sure where to start. Few game series have as long and storied a history as Wizardry, which is the same age as Mario and helped inspire entire gaming genres. Much has changed in this series over the years, but the base formula has remained the same: create your avatar, hire some help at the local guild, accept a quest or two, then crawl through a seemingly endless maze of corridors, traps, treasure chests and secret passageways… all in glorious first-person 3D!
But do mind the monsters. Everything from adorable Vorpal Bunnies to giant dragons, to a demonic face made out of corpses is traipsing through these same cavernous depths, always just around the next corner. Once you’re spotted, it’s time to fight – and if you’re not strong, clever or fast enough to take them down, you’re going to wind up as a spot on the wall – like all the others.
In the end, it comes down to tweaking your stats, finding or buying new equipment, keeping track of your whereabouts, exploring thoroughly and strategizing like there’s no tomorrow. Think Etrian Odyssey, or Dark Spire, or… well… Wizardry!
There are 10 main characters to choose from, consisting of male and female alternatives for each of the game’s five races, and each of them has a unique personality and an individual story arc to offer. After picking a character, you’re given an opportunity to choose an alignment (Good, Evil or Neutral), allocate points to various stats (Strength, Vitality, Agility, Luck, Intelligence and Piety), then pick your class.
As series fans know all too well, these are not arbitrary decisions in the slightest. Alignment determines which classes you can play and which existing guild recruits will be willing to join your party (as you might imagine, Evil and Good don’t get along too well). And class is absolutely paramount, with vastly different gameplay strategies required — both in and out of battle — depending on the class makeup of your dungeon-farers.
Let’s take a quick look at this game’s 10 main characters, and see if we can determine which would be the best choice for you!
Human (Chris or Odetta)
Humans are well-balanced, given them easy access to every base class. Starting adventurers may find it easiest to begin with someone like Chris or Odetta, whose stats are so well-rounded that they’ll never come up short in any endeavor — even if they also never truly excel. Personality-wise, Chris is rather acerbic. Having been wronged one too many times, he’s essentially become impatient and untrusting in his dealings with others. And Odetta, ironically, proves that Chris is right to doubt others, since her motives are anything but pure.
Elf (Verne or Lind)
Elves, like humans, are balanced enough that any base class is available to them right from the start. Unlike humans, however, the distribution is not completely equal, giving them a slight edge in Intelligence and Piety (qualities befitting a magic-user), and a tiny nudge in Agility and Luck as well (qualities befitting a Thief).
Personality-wise, Verne is a stoic, serious individual with Vulcan-like logic and a constantly cool head. He’s devoted his life to study, and seeks only the funding to further his intellectual pursuits.
Lind has embraced her darker side, and seeks fortune above all else.
Dwarf (Pegma or Nia)
With high Strength, Vitality and Piety from the start, dwarves make excellent Fighters or Priests – though their low base Intelligence, Agility and Luck make them unlikely choices for the job of Mage or Thief.
Personality-wise, Pegma is unusual in that he possesses a cool head and an intellectual bent — qualities more befitting of an elf. Nia, too, defies the dwarven stereotype by maintaining a constant optimistic outlook and friendly, social demeanor. Having lost her memory, she’s chosen to become an adventurer in the hope that someone might recognize her and give her some clue about her mysterious past.
Gnome (Erno or Dia)
Boasting sky-high Intelligence and Piety, gnomes are extremely well suited to becoming Magic-users, yet extremely unsuited for almost any other job. Unlike the other races, gnomes with Good alignment are readily able to begin the game as Bishops – an advanced form of the Priest class – due to their astoundingly high Piety.
Personality-wise, Erno and Dia are very much alike: They’re both naturally Good individuals with high intellect and a desire to succeed. Erno, studying to become a first-class Mage, has taken up adventuring to fund his schooling; whereas Dia, a seminary graduate, has taken up adventuring to gain real-world experience before attempting to secure her desired spot in the local clergy.
Porklu (Boris or Asche)
Natural-born masters of subterfuge, porklu have excessively high agility and luck, making them absolutely ideal Thieves. Their other stats are quite low, however, so the Thieves’ ability to hide in the shadows may fast become an essential survival skill. Still, every good party needs a Thief, and no race is better suited to that role than the porklu.
Personality-wise, Boris is astonishingly social and comes across as a likable and fun individual, having made a living as a knife-juggler. Asche is much shyer than her male counterpart, rarely uttering a word. She responds to almost any question simply by nodding or shaking her head. This shyness largely comes from her previous occupation – that of pickpocket, where socializing is not a particularly useful trait – but she’s resolved to change her ways and make a more honest living from now on.
No matter which starting character you choose, you’re guaranteed a long, treacherous, intriguing adventure into the depths of the earth, filled with mysteries, puzzles, traps and monsters both big and small. If you’re looking for a game to suck you into its meaty atmosphere and never let you go, Wizardry may be just what the doctor ordered.
So consider your options carefully, choose your protagonist wisely, and do whatever you can to survive the trials that await you. This is the Labyrinth of Lost Souls, after all. Getting a little lost within is simply par for the course…