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Game Info:

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls
Developed By: ACQUIRE Corp.
Published By: XSEED Games, Marvelous USA, Inc.
Released: January 15, 2020
Available On: iOS, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Microsoft Windows
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen (Alcohol Reference, Mild Blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity)
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $14.99
(Humble Store Link)

I'd like to thank XSEED Games and Marvelous USA, Inc. for the review key for this title.

The desire to play the classics is intense for many, and while many classic games get updated ports or remakes that make them a lot easier while still preserving the essence of the original, few go the other direction and keep things as hard as the original while still offering some modern enhancements. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls (LoLS) attempts to do this, though the outcome is a bit mixed.

Wizardry: LoLS is part of the Wizardry Renaissance, the Japanese attempt to keep a franchise that mostly died out in the US very much alive in Japan. Like the classic games, it's a turn-based, first-person RPG that despite a few modern enhancements is a throwback to the late eighties when RPGs were super hard, graphics were limited, and the gameplay refused to hold your hand. Thankfully, the games don't force the players to map dungeons by hand and there is an in-game monster catalog along with a few other modern touches, but this is still very much a retro RPG game. It was ported from the PS3 and now is on the PC with all DLC included from the PS3 port.

The story is a bit confusing and even incoherent at times, but the basic gist of the overarching plot is that the former king disappeared in a dungeon and you have to find him. If anything, while this does have a good and bad ending, most of the game boils down to "explore dungeons and do quests for fun and profit". It's implied in the bits of the story we do get that this is a possible prequel to the original Wizardy games, but even if it isn't, the story is vague enough that it's hard to be sure. I had to check all over the internet when doing this review to make some sense of the overall plot due to the vagueness of the game, and even longtime Wizardry fans seem to have little more idea than I did as to the metaplot.

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good gameplay that captures the essence of the original Wizardry games
Weak Points: Poor English translation; incoherent story and lore; obtuse game mechanics
Moral Warnings: RPG-style violence; mild use of profane language (a**, h***, and d**m, the latter use used mostly in the religious sense); displays of blood on weapons of enemy models; partial nudity for some enemies and some mildly revealing clothing in general; mentions of player usable magic involving soul tampering; the presence of demons and the undead; in-game alignment system allows for unethical actions

The actual gameplay is very basic and will not surprise the average RPG fan. You select the main character, you can form a party of characters of different races, classes, and alignment, receive and do quests, and explore dungeons full of dangerous monsters. This game presumes you are a veteran of games of this genre so there is no tutorial, so this is a game utter newbies and even RPG veterans will want a guide handy for. Even how to roll stats for getting certain character classes and what alignments are required is not mentioned, nor does the game come with much of a manual.

Graphically, much like the PS3 port, this game goes for a retro minimalism look. The character graphics all have a half-anime, half-Western high fantasy aesthetic, which is consistent with the Japanese ports of later Wizardry titles while still adhering to the original Western game themes. Dungeons have the 3D style of first-person games from the early nineties while sporting backgrounds and textures that are a bit samey as the games this is one attempt to resemble tended to look due to limited colors. Otherwise, the art style is quite minimalistic, with the classic black and white interface of the early Wizardry titles.

Music and sound are serviceable if rather underwhelming. The music is generic synthesized high fantasy music, none of it overly memorable, but set the mood adequately. Sounds effects follow a similar pattern. Voice acting is present to a small degree, but this is a game that is largely text-driven; the voice acting is sparse and quite undistinguished Japanese voice acting with English text and quite brief, only really showing up at the start of the game for the most part.

Controls involve using either a PC gamepad or the keyboard and mouse. Both are viable for use, but it must be noted the interface text has some of the keys mislabeled on context menus (Z is erroneously mislabeled as the confirmation key for the keyboard, similar issues exist for the gamepad controls). Stability is certainly a redeeming strength of this port, as it runs smoothly out of the box on Windows and even Linux runs it via Proton with no tweaks necessary at performance essentially identical to Windows.

Morally, and especially since this game has a morality system built-in, there are some concerning things, and the game is also quite vague on some moral topics. Violence is defined as self-defense if fighting anything that fights back, and as killing in cold blood if attacking non-aggressive creatures that don't fight back. The game itself is very poor at explaining this and how the former keeps your alignment shift towards good and the latter shift toward Evil as a gameplay mechanic, and it's worth noting you get hardly any indication of this and have to monitor your character stats to note this. Additionally, if your party has drastic shifts in the alignment, certain members may leave due to moral clashes, so this is tedious to monitor. The violence is RPG style "give commands and watch it happen" and devoid of blood and gore otherwise, save some enemy graphics having mildly blood-tinged weapons.

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 64%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 55%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 7.5/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

Language is fairly tame, generally rising no higher than a mild daytime movie level. There are uses of the term "hell", "d**n" and "b**t**d", which are used in their proper context, the former two for many demons to generally denote their evil, the latter shows up as the proper name for a type of sword that does exist in the real world. Otherwise, the game script is typically clean generic high fantasy, only using the occasional a** as an actual insult.

Sexual content is not very common, save for some sexy outfits that show off some cleavage. The game has a few succubi/incubi monsters that are naked, but either have the explicit parts covered by hair or are positioned in such a way as to avoid total nudity. Their absolute immodesty is a shorthand for the fact they are immoral demons so, in context, the game is not glorifying their lack of clothing.

Most of the game is generic sword and sorcery fantasy. Some magical attacks state they affect the soul of the enemy and mention the summoning of spirits, implying a form of necromancy is possible for the player to use. On the whole, though, the general in-game religion is broadly conformant to most values of Christianity, and while it has some conflicting information due to what appears poor translation (the chief deity is referred to in both the singular and plural at different points for example), all the information in the game that does match up is roughly equivalent to the Judeo-Christian moral system and religious technicalities. Even the reviving of the dead can only take place due to explicit intervention of the God stand-in via his church servants or by those invoking said deity's power in an attempt to revive the fallen, though there is a chance to have this fail so completely the death remains permanent.

Morally and ethically, since Good, Neutral, and Evil are all valid choices and character alignments (your actions can change despite your alignment if you prefer at any point), it's worth noting the player nigh never gets to do anything wantonly evil, more along the lines of "lawful" evil, such as charging a fee for rescuing someone about to die. Overall, aside from this, most actions possible in gameplay range from utterly ethical to questionably unethical, though what would shift your in-game alignment one way or the other is poorly explained. The plot itself has good and bad endings, but due to shoddy translation to the point of nigh incoherence, how to get either is so obtuse a player could stumble across both endings by complete accident. The character motivations for entering the dungeons all boil down to "fun and profit", any larger motive expressed initially is little more than flavor text that has no meaningful plot impact, and nigh all dungeon crawling will involve hunting down various threats and other standard things one would do in a heroic context in most RPGs.

On the whole, this game was something of a let-down. While it does nail the core experience of hardcore dungeon crawling like the Wizardry games of old, this comes at the price of an incoherent story, bad translation, poorly explained game mechanics, and a difficulty curve that is much harder than it should be (and it's already quite hard) as a result. Morally, this game has quite a few red flags, and would not recommend it except for the mature teenager and up crowd due to demonic imagery and usage of magic explicitly mentioning tampering with souls. Regardless, if one can look past the flaws, for the niche gamer interested in a brutal throwback to the hard CRPGs of yore, this is certain to satisfy in that regard.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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