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Review - WIZARDS AND WARRIORS - One of the rarest RPGs ever made finally on GOG!

Wizards & Warriors - Gareth

A true cult classic, Wizardry-like first-person RPG, Wizards & Warriors(Formerly called Swords & Sorcery), makes a triumphal return on GOG! 

"Wanna be an elephantoid Omphaaz, a feline Whiskah (night vision baby) or a boring human? Form a six-person team, then roam the land of Gael Cerran searching for an evil that's been going unchecked for too long and maybe lost treasure as well. Set those dungeons ablaze with magic and a mix of real-time and turn-based combat. Like old times."

It's very difficult(almost impossible) to find a proper trailer for this game, but I found this nice video(thanks, Demiath!) showing you the first minutes of the game.
(And I agree with one of the comments saying that the trolls sound like they say the "n word" all the time. 😂)

Store Platform OVERALL RATING: 85%
Buy it on GOG PC
 + THE POSITIVE
+ Hundreds of hours of exploration
+ Great turn-based AND real-time combat system
+ Complex puzzles
+ Great and diverse character building
+ Atmospheric OST
+ You can ride horses
+ Old-school gameplay, but...
 - THE NEGATIVE
- It won't please the young gamers
- STILL buggy, despite all GOG's efforts to make it run on modern systems!
- EXCEPTIONALLY DIFFICULT
- Graphics could have been better, even at the time (2000)

IT ALL STARTED IN 1996...

Wizards & Warriors - D.W. Bradley
The man. The genius. The weird lightning bolt.
The developer:
David W. Bradley is a video game designer and programmer, most notable for the role-playing video games Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom , VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge, VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant, Wizards & Warriors, and Dungeon Lords


 Development started all the way back in 1996!
When D.W. Bradley left Sir-tech(another phenomenal company which actually developed the legendary Jagged Alliance games)and formed his own company, Heuristic Park(in 1995), the first thing he released was Wizards & Warriors, his preemptive response to the upcoming Wizardry 8.

The story:
  
 In an enchanted medieval realm known as the Gael Serran, an evil Pharaoh has overcome a curse and returned to wreak havoc. Only the legendary Mavin Sword--a blade forged of twin metals, one cursed by evil, the other blessed by the divine--has the strength to bring his defeat. 

 With the assistance of Kerah, an angel, and Erathsmedor, a dragon, you must engage on a dangerous quest to uncover the legend of the Mavin Sword and bring an end to all evil in the land.

Wizards & Warriors - World Map of the Gael Serran
Discover the Enchanted Isle, Dragon's Den, Dwarven Mines, Liche Dungeon and over 40 other places to explore! (God I love these old maps... Remember the one from Might and Magic VI?)


The Genre:
At its core, an old-school first-person turn-based RPG. So, you can expect...
- Tough-as-nails difficulty
- Traditional ultra-deep class-based character building
- A six-adventurers party
- A large and fascinating open world full of dungeons to explore and quests to perform(over 100 quests!)
- Plenty of characters to interact with(over 100 npcs, 350 characters and creatures!)
- Lots of magic spells
- phase-based combat (everything else is real-time)

Wizards & Warriors - Wallpaper
Wizards & Warriors UI is a mix of nostalgia goodness and clunky nightmare, especially when you want to cast a spell. (thanks to RPGCodex for these screenshots!)

Note!
The game setup has never been easier, thanks to GOG, but... For MOST people(apparently everybody, including myself), the mouse STILL lags a lot, making the game borderline unplayable at times! 

It doesn't fix the mouse problem, but you can still install this unofficial patch to improve the game(compatible with GOG version!): http://www.jeffludwig.com/downloads/thank-you.php?tag=ww-mod-v1.1

UPDATE - click here to see a little workaround for those having issues with the mouse.

GAMEPLAY - MIX OF WIZARDRY AND MIGHT AND MAGIC!😎👍

 You'll feel at home if you've played any of Bradley's earlier Wizardry games. As already stated, the game is seen through first-person view, you control a party of characters and fight turn-based combats. Besides combat, the game is real-time. 

One of the great things is that there's NO "lead character". Any of them can die, and you can still play the main quest!  
Wizards & Warriors is one of the game which offers the most diversity in a RPG. 
You can play of course humans, elves, gnomes, pixies, dwarves, but also...
The much less usual Oomphaz(elephantine creatures... Is there any other RPG in which you can play as an elephant?) Whiskahs(which are the equivalent of Elder Scrolls' Khajiit race), Gourks, who look like pigs, and finally, Lizzords and Ratlings.(I let you find out what they look like.)


Wizards & Warriors - Highland Rogue
Excuse me, could you take a look at my axe? It doesn't look sharp enough to me.

 Each character can join guilds that give exclusive quests, and they maintain their own individual quest log, which is pretty cool and makes the game even more immersive.


Note!
Speaking of quests, keep in mind that to get credit for a quest that you completed, you must select the character who received the quest before talking to the NPC who gave you the quest...

Guilds also allow your characters to switch classes, and be promoted to "elite classes" such as barbarians, monks, etc. And THEN there are even stronger classes like Valkyrie, Assassin, etc.

Note!
Your characters can switch classes as many times as you like but can not return to a class once they change from it!

Wizards & Warriors - Samurai Whiskah - Inventory
My Khajiit- I mean Whiskah female turns into a Samurai! By the way, please admire the beauty of the inventory items, reminding us of what we had in Might and Magic VI!

 Where the game shines the most: the DUNGEONS
They're all excellent, and in my opinion, better than the ones in Wizardry 8.
When you play a game like Wizards & Warriors, you realize how a neatly crafted world will ALWAYS be better than a randomly generated one. 

 Each location is unique and memorable, thanks to a clever level design.  
(Wait until you the find the famous "Serpent Temple", or the "Shurugeon Castle", among more exotic and dangerous places!)

It has to be noted that the game doesn't have a "sleep" option. It can be very annoying to have to walk around 20 minutes to wait for the dawn light.

Wizards & Warriors - Serene Altar
Hey calm yo tuts, I didn't really mean the sphinx-ter joke in the previous article! And why are there so many emoticons on the walls?! Maybe this is how internet forums looked like in ancient Egypt?

THE COMBAT

 Although I said the combat is turn-based, to be more precise, I could say that it's turn-based WITH free movement. If you're "engaged" to an enemy in "combat mode", it's simply turn-based, which makes the game plays more similarly to Might and Magic than Wizardry, actually.

 Also, it means that YOU CAN RUN AWAY ANYTIME YOU WANT, which makes it infinitely better than Wizardry 8(fight me in the comments), which forced you to sit through hours and hours of unbearably boring and cumbersome combat against hordes of unkillable enemies. Overall, it's much more fast-paced and flexible!

By the way, keep in mind that enemies with ranged attacks are EXTREMELY dangerous if the party doesn’t get close to them fast!!

Wizards & Warriors - The Crypt
You gotta love that writing style. I totally disagree with the critics about this. It totally looks like what you would read in one of these great Ian Livingstone "gamebooks" of the 80s.

 Speaking of enemies, they're extremely diverse, ranging from bloodthirsty piranhas and ferocious raptors to big-boobed satyrs and nasty mongrels, etc.(don't forget to adjust the respawn rate to your liking in the options!)

TIPS!
- Plan ahead the creation of your party. Take not of what guild you'll need your characters to join, etc.

- A wizard (specialized in Fire or Stone) and a Rogue with high Traps skill are
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


- As in most old-school RPGs, it's better to specialize each character in ONE weapon only.(Swords are a good choice since you can find them
almost everywhere... Staffs are a good choice for your magic-users.)


- Shields are useless, since they give no AC bonus, only a chance to block an attack. A second weapon is the better choice. 

Wizards & Warriors - Serpent Priest
Chuck Norris said: "One time, a snake bit me. It died two days later."

 It's debatable, but there's one thing which could frustrate some players about the "world structure" of Wizards & Warriors: Basically, the game is made of large open areas that you're free to explore as you want, but some areas are "closed" until you reach a certain point the story, similarly to some GTA games, for example. 

 Personally, I don't mind at all, but I've seen players considering it's a step-back from the completely open world in Wizardry VII.

Have you heard of this game?
Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar - Village of CrowlGrimoire : Heralds of the Winged Exemplar is another very interesting and obscure turn-based RPG, also very similar to Wizardry, Lands or Lore, or the first Might & Magic games.

Again, old-school, hardcore, clunky, but oh-so-addictive gameplay! It has carefully designed memorable environments, detailed pixelated graphics(either love it or hate it), and extremely rewarding exploration. 

Don't believe the mixed reviews and give it a chance!


Wizards & Warriors - Bone Shark
Oh don't worry, it's okay, it's just a bone shark. They eat your bones, not the flesh!

Overall, Wizards & Warriors is a very enjoyable and fascinating alternative to Wizardry 8, offering a much better combat system and richer level design.

Story is kinda bland, and yet, characters are charming and this fantasy world is really lovely!
It's tempting to try every character class, and to deeply customize them to suit your gameplay preferences.
Finally, I find immensely satisfying and rewarding to get my characters promoted by completing quests(many of them take hours to complete!).


Just my opinion, but although the technical aspect of it has aged considerable, the core hasn't at all, and a HD remake(or maybe even a sequel?) could be really great.

Wizards & Warriors - Skeletons
Uuugh why won't these skeletons just die already? Oh, I forgot, they don't have the guts. Anyway, I'd invite you to my party, but you have no "body" to go with you, apparently. HA HA HA.... ha ha...

GRAPHICS - CHARMING BUT DATED🧐

It's difficult to judge Wizards & Warriors graphics. They can be either terrible or great, depending on your taste and ability to deal with old-school games. 

Definitely, back in 2000, there were already much more beautiful and technically advanced games.

It might seem unfair to compare it to FPS games(because their worlds aren't as large), but Deus Ex, No One Lives Forever, or Unreal had better lighting system, textures, 3D models, and overall, they just felt "smoother". Here, we're dealing with a prehistoric - un-optimized - engine which always feels like it's simply not advanced enough to display a 3D world.

Wizards & Warriors - Kol The Heretic - Temple

And yet, despite all of this, the artists managed to create something quite unique, thanks to charismatic characters, creepy monsters, and more importantly, a clever design making each area unique and with that particular magical feeling specific to Bradley works. Grassy meadows, mysterious forests, tropical beaches, massive maze-like castles, creepy dungeons and even some underwater locations, you'll see it all in W&W.

There's another aspect which makes this game a bit similar to Might and Magic, but worse.
In Might and Magic games, various houses and shops are represented as static 2D/3D interiors. But you can still wander around freely in towns.
In Wizards & Warriors, ENTIRE TOWNS are represented as static screens! On the other hand, you can click on every available building, which opens additional 2D static screens, and you're usually greeted by 3D characters

- The good side: it makes your occasional town visits very quick. 
- The bad side: it dramatically damages the immersion, unfortunately.


Wizards & Warriors - Galliwag - The Inn - No Pixies
At first, I thought the sign on the left meant "NO PUSSIES". Oh well, no pixies, no pussies, it's all the same!


MUSIC - ATMOSPHERIC AND MAGICAL💫

Steve Miller, the composer of W&W, did a great job! The entire OST sounds very atmospheric and really enhances the overall mood of the game, especially in creepy areas, for example! There's not one bad track! The very sophisticated "Caution" track represents very well this heavy atmosphere that you'll feel during your exploration.
Although I prefer the more quiet and mysterious ambience set by the tracks "Suspense" and "Suspense 2"!

I'll never thank "frankscrank99" enough for uploading the entire OST on Youtube! Enjoy!


Voice acting is hit-and-miss. Some characters sound very convincing while others seem bored and amateurish. Monsters are all very cool, doing nasty sounds and funny voices(at least I found them funny, personally).

Most SFX sound a bit muffled and too compressed.

WILLY'S OPINION - OH YEAH!
Brent RamboI love the adventurous atmosphere! This is the kind of game which makes you want to explore and experiment EVERYTHING!(I wanted to restart the game many times just to experiment as many character builds as I could

And dude, developers weren't kidding with tricky puzzles back then!
In the very first crypt dungeon, I really enjoyed solving some puzzles like the crystal underwater behind the grate, and the hidden room(SPOILER: look above the elevator!).

The story didn't catch me much, but the game's sheer depth and astounding longevity makes up for it.

If you enjoyed the Might and Magic AND/OR previous Wizardry games, you should enjoy this one! A MUST-HAVE for me!

RATING BOX
Wizards & Warriors - Game Cover


VERSION TESTED: 1.0

Publisher:

Developer:

Release Date:
27 September, 2000

Genre: RPG

Single-player

Difficulty: ASIAN 


Store Platform
Buy it on GOG PC
GRAPHICS: 81%
Still a lot of charm, and nostalgic fans will feel in pixelated heaven, but graphics were dated even back in 2000.
MUSIC: 91%
Very immersive and atmospheric, the mysterious magical melodies will accompany perfectly your careful step-by-step exploration of deadly crypts!
SOUNDS: 75%
Sometimes, the voices(especially monsters) are a case of "it's so bad it's actually good", or rather funny, but anyway, it's surprisingly enjoyable. Weapons SFX are low quality, though.
GAMEPLAY: 84%
UI and controls have aged considerably, and the insanely high difficulty doesn't help making Wizards & Warriors feel like a smooth ride. Even worse, there are still some game-breaking bugs! Still, some excellent dungeons, intelligent level design, and a great combat system make this RPG worthwhile and even better than some other RPGs of the same era.
GAME LENGTH: 97%
Game is huge: between 40 and 80 hours, depending on how many side quests you accept. The game box says "200 hours", though. And replayability is real.
OVERALL RATING: 85%
 Wizards & Warriors was made with love. The love of a crazy passionate guy called D.W. Bradley, who offers us here the best alternative to Wizardry 8 Despite its age and numerous quirks, you can still enjoy this captivating adventure, which offers very rarely seen depth and longevity. A very underrated near-masterpiece!

This game definitely calls for an HD remake.
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