You know that feeling? When you’ve played something so bland, that you’re not sure what to say about it? That’s kind of the feeling I’m left with after playing Wizardry: Labyrinth Of Lost Souls.
I haven’t really played any of the other games in the series, so I don’t really know how LOLS compares to them. But this is specifically a review of the 2020 PC port of the game.
It previously appeared on PS3 in 2009, iPhone in 2011 and then later on PS Vita in 2015. So the PC port has arrived 11 years after the game’s initial release. But at least it was an excuse for me to play it.
You’re an adventurer who comes to a new town, ready for adventure and to earn some money. Talking to the local guild, you learn that some Kobolds have been causing a stir recently. So it is up to you and your party to take care of the problem.
The game is honestly kind of short on story, and what is there isn’t terribly interesting. This is a game that focuses more on the gameplay than the story; with the story more there to serve the gameplay.
All in all, it’s generic roleplaying stuff. I wasn’t really able to get far into the game, for reasons I will discuss later, so any story beyond the trial dungeon I wasn’t able to uncover.
Labyrinth Of Lost Souls begins with you creating a character. There are multiple races and genders to pick, with different stats affecting your character. The stats consist of Strength, Intelligence, Piety, Vitality, Agility, and Luck. Generally these stats are pretty self explanitory, and which stat is important depends on what kind of character you’re making.
Humans are pretty average in terms of stats, with no strengths in either. Elves have slightly lower Strength and Vitality, but excellent Piety and Intelligence. The Porklu have generally low stats save for their Agility and Luck. Gnomes have some of the lowest stats in Strength, Vitality and Agility but their Intelligence makes up for it. And then you have Dwarfs who have unmatched Strength, Piety and Vitality.
When making a character you can choose bonus points to buff your stats. What stats you buff will determine what class your character is suited for. For instance, buffing your Strength to a certain level will make you suited as a Fighter; and shooting your Intelligence up qualifies you as a mage. So generally, pick your class based on your preferred playstyle.
Due to me not getting that far in the game I wasn’t really able to see if you’re able to “level up” your class later. I noticed that when creating characters, you’re unable to pick a bunch of classes other than the default 3-4 the game allows you to pick. These might be limited by race or alignment but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference. So it might be that you can pick these classes later in the game, I’m not sure.
Once you’ve created your character you’re introduced to the game’s town. This is where you’ll be assembling your party, buying and selling gear, resurrecting fallen party members, and healing up between quests. To assemble your team, you head to the Guild, where you can either create new custom party members, or hire ones that already exist.
The party consists of 6 members in total, though split into two halves. The front section is usually suited for fighters and offense characters. These are the characters who go in front and do most of the melee fighting. Spellcasters and support characters are more suited for the rear half, given that usually any character in the rear cannot attack with melee.
Each party member has their own inventory and gold. You can pool all the gold from all the characters into one though, which is handy when shopping items. Usually I feel having one character who handles all the shopping is better than each character doing it individually.
After you’ve assembled your team and gone to the Guild to pick up your first quest, you may head into the first dungeon. This is where the game begins proper. And where most of my problems with the game arise.
Aside from the practically pointless story, the game is a dungeon crawler. And not a particularly interesting one. The dungeons consist of multiple levels, all of them looking almost identical to each other. There’s a lot of identical walls and textures, with very little visual variety to spice things up. I suppose it’s effective in making you feel lost in a maze, but not very fun to look at.
Combat occurs almost entirely in random encounters as you walk through the dungeon. And you’ll have to do a lot of it before you can move on to the next levels given how steep the enemy level increments are compared to how slowly you level up your party.
So most of LOLS is spent grinding on floors while finding switches and treasure. And constantly travelling back and forth between the dungeon and the town to trade loot. It gets extremely repetitive very quickly. While the combat feels engaging enough once you unlock more spells and techniques, I don’t feel it’s enough to save the game from feeling like a slog.
A Dull Experience
I wasn’t able to even finish the first quest before writing this review for several reasons. One being how much time was spent just learning the game’s mechanics since nothing is really explained or telegraphed well to the player. For instance, the labyrinth has these areas of darkness with no light, but they literally show up as black cubes in your vision. I was seriously convinced this was a bug in the game until I learned it was on purpose.
LOLS also seriously lacks animation or any kind of visual gratification. Enemies and players are entirely static sprites that barely animate. This ends up making everything feel kind of dated and boring to look at.
I won’t claim I have played many dungeon crawlers but the ones I have played at least kept me interested for longer than this. I mean, it’s really hard to wanna keep playing when it barely feels like you make any progress at all. And everything just kinda wore on me to the point I felt I was just forcing myself through it.
What I feel could’ve made the experience more interesting would’ve been animated character portraits, as well as animated enemy sprites. And making everything feel a bit more rewarding. And not to mention making the dungeons more visually appealing and diverse. Have more distinct rooms and decor and height differences, just to make it feel less like a dungeon.
One thing I did like in Wizardry LOLS was the music and sound design. The dungeon has this creepy ambience in it, and overall the music was pleasant to listen to, if not extremely repetitive due to the amount of battles you go through.
The voices also got a bit annoying, especially with how some of them are really loud and some are barely audible. I’d also love some subtitles given Japanese is not my native language, and I had no idea what my characters were saying most of the time.
And while the game lacks animation and personality, the sprites and artwork is generally pleasant to look at. It has this Japanese anime style to it that at least is visually pleasing. And the enemy designs are pretty good too, with detailed sprites and interesting concepts. It unfortunately does not make up for how boring the dungeon itself looks though.
Wizardry: Labyrinth Of Lost Souls is an adequate dungeon crawler. It does pretty much what you’d expect from a RPG like this. But nothing beyond that.
Despite its appealing character designs and soothing soundtrack, I feel the game completely fails to hold my attention. It feels like too much of a grind, and the dreadfully boring design of the dungeons, while succeeding in making you feel lost and trapped, just fails in feeling fun to explore.
This might be a game that gets good further in once you’ve unlocked more stuff. But due to the early game taking so long, I wasn’t able to find out. So unfortunately, I can’t really recommend getting this game when there are better and more fun dungeon crawlers out there.
This game was received for free to review.
Wizardry: Labyrinth Of Lost Souls
While its artwork and music are pleasant enough, the game lacks an intriguing story, animation and fun value. Too much of a grind to really recommend.
- Great sprites and character designs
- Good music and sound design
- Too much grinding
- Visually unappealing dungeon design
- Boring gameplay