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Wizardry 1 is a game that was written by Andrew Greenberg and Robert Woodhead in 1981. It was the pioneer of computer role-playing games, featuring a first-person viewpoint and the illusion of 3-dimensional graphics. Along with Ultima, Might and Magic and The Bard's Tale, it became both a classic and a series. There were nine Wizardry games released over 20 years.
You might find it surprising, but an evil magician with even-more-evil plans sent his minions to slay everyone, and meanwhile built a catacomb around his cave. Your party of six tough adventurers were given the quest to defeat him and save the world. Hurray. Despite the story being a cliché, I shall remind you that this is *THE* Story, from which all other stories for RPGs emerged. At least, back then it was thought to be interesting, and filled with unexpected twists.
The state-of-the-art CGA is composed from four of the strangest colours - cyan, magenta, white and black - but they do their job well. When you're not adventuring in a maze composed of white lines, you'll be presented with text and menus. Fighting monsters means a small picture of the monster appears, and the game describes the events of the combat in a window.
Whatever you desire - psychedelic rock from the 60s, heavy metal from the 80s, 8-bit nerd music, or something classical, it's your choice! You can put whatever you want into your music player device and enjoy it; the game won't interrupt with any beeps, not to mention music scores. There aren't any. (I can't even recall if there's anything being played while the welcome screen is presented)
If you thought you'd see another short paragraph with some minor details, then you're wrong. Even though the graphics are minimal, the gameplay is deep, complicated, and hard. It was never meant to be played by the casual, and as the years passed it became even harder because only the most determined can bear the look of the game. The controls are actually simple. When you start the game, generate characters, or wander around the menus, you'll need to press a letter or a number corresponding to the choices you can make listed on the screen. When you're in the catacombs, you can move forward with 'w', turn left and right with 'a' and 'd' (there's no stepping back, muhaha). The fights are turn based. You can set your commands for each character by choosing the appropriate letters, then wait for the party to carry out your will, and after the enemy has taken actions, you gain control again.
The game set some standards for the RPG genre. For example, you need to create characters and choose their race from Human, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit or Gnome. Every time you create a character, you receive points which you can distribute to the following attributes: Strength, I.Q., Piety, Vitality, Agility, Luck. Depending on the race and which attribute has the most points, your character can be a Thief, Fighter, Mage, Priest. There are also elite classes: Lord, Bishop, Ninja, and Samurai. You will also need to equip them with weapons; you can buy some cheap sticks and knives at the local shop, but the best are still the ones looted from big, evil monsters lurking beyond.
After you've assembled your band of heroes, you should enter The Maze. True to its name, it'll be a labyrinth of halls and corridors, all the same. As said earlier, this game was never meant to be played by the causal gamer. There are no maps in-game, you will have to draw them on your own, with pen and paper, just like in the old days! (Or you could download one from the net. Boo.) You will encounter many dangerous creatures, and you'll also gain experience by defeating them. When your team is exhausted, you can go back to the Castle, or make a camp. Dying is quite easy in this game, and the priests of the Temple of Cant have high prices for resurrection, so make sure you always carry a priest and antidotes with you. (If someone gets poisoned by, for example, a trap, chances are he/she will die. Soon.) There are ten levels, each filled with monsters, traps, and treasures.
If you're interested in fantasy, tired of today's shiny games, were/are fans of the Wizardry series, or want to try your skills in this long forgotten gem, then go ahead and download now! If you think this might be too hard for you, then you can give it a try as well - believe me, the upcoming ones in the series are a lot, A Lot Harder. Besides, you will be able to - or more likely, you will have to - import your characters into the next title, because it will be quite hard to start a party when the weakest monsters are level 13.
Despite the outdated graphics, lack of music, and the level of difficulty, I rate 5 for inventing a genre which gave birth to titles like The Elder Scrolls and much more.
Runs well in DOSBox, but you should decrease the cycles with control+f11 to around 500 cycles to get a satisfying speed. You don't have to create a scenario disk whatever the game says, that was only implemented to backup your original copy of the game.
You should download the manual and the list of spells and read them to be able to enjoy the adventures Wizardry 1 provides you with. There are also maps out there, just in case you would get lost in the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord.