Hi all. Rik’s lately been moving house and my wife has immigrated to join me in England’s Green and Pleasant land, so we’re both a bit too busy for much gaming lately. However, I still have many wasted years of my youth to draw on for inspiration. So here’s the second installment of my guide to Guardia, the world of Wizardry 7.
The holy city of the Munk, a race of short red, robed guys who are big fans of alchemy and kung-fu. Features a picturesque (well, as close as the graphics can manage) lake and the infamously horrible spindle puzzle (just swim around the damn thing).
Also the Palace of the Gran Melange, a rather trippy section in Guardia’s version of an opium den. Intoxicated Munks ramble about whether or not dreams are reality, or something. Then you fight ghosts and witches, smoke something dubious, fall into an abyss, and meet a Sphinx which pontificates at great length about what defines a human being. Basically the game is taking some time here to indulge itself in philosophical musings. The walls of text are all worth it though as you end up with the mighty Sword of Four Winds.
This city’s main dungeon section, meanwhile, contains the bastard-hard Lord of the Dark Forest, but also an item you need to get your boat working.
The Rattkin are rodent people, as you might have guessed but they also seem to be modelled on contemporary criminal organisations. (Wiz 8 gave them New York mobster voices). So their elite warriors are called Razuka and their leader is addressed as Don. Their city is kind of a long walk to reach, and a pain to navigate, but it does have the game’s only dedicated archery shop.
A large portion of your time here is spent in “Rubi’s Funhouse”, some sort of abandoned and dilapidated amusement attraction. It’s a bit incongruous; I can’t picture any of the peoples of Guardia building a place like this. Seems more like a location you’d visit in one of the Arkham games. However, it should be pretty obvious that it’s going to be full of danger and murder. When fighting the Rattkin, that generally means getting showered with arrows and stones whilst their most poweful fighters slash away with poisoned swords. Also, just to make sure you’re stuck here for many hours, there are a bunch of slightly tedious puzzles based around activating various mechanisms. These are made all the more frustrating when you’re trying to find a switch to divert a water slide, or some item to trigger a pressure plate, and you keep getting interrupted by goddamn random attacks.
Witch Mountains\Giant Caves
This extensive region of caves and wildnernesses is based around mountains, which the game’s engine can’t draw any more than it can a tower. It doesn’t even have the capacity for backdrops. So you just have a bunch of discrete regions of rock and forest for progressively higher reaches of the mountainside, text descriptions, and once again your imagination fills in the gaps. Despite these limitations, the witch mountains do manage to feel a bit remote and exciting, a long way from the (relative) safety of New City. You won’t see many of the peoples of Guardia here, but there are plenty of monsters :giant fire-breathing crows, massive lizards and two-headed lions.
Somewhere around here there’s a cave populated by Giants, then an actual dinosaur that makes for quite an epic fight. There’s also a bit of a puzzler in another cave about finding out the names of a bunch of witches. Hint – you need to find a field in this region where some weird events occur, and something to help you better see what’s happening there.
Isle of Crypts
This little island in the middle of the ocean contains the entrance to a sprawling complex of catacombs that comprises the endgame.
Near the surface is a series of dungeons full of traps and dragons. Remember your fire shield, and also some random junk you picked up in Orkogre months ago. This is the easy bit, though. Further down you find yourself facing a labyrinth full of teleporters, that quickly leave you extremely disoriented. The trick is to realise each teleporter is just moving you vertically to another floor, and also to make careful maps on paper of exactly where each one takes you.
In the lowest reaches the game loses all restraint on its scifi-side and starts throwing giant goddamn robots at you. Once you reach this level you’re close to a final showdown with the Dark Savant himself.
Except he’s not actually the toughest foe down here. About midway through the dungeons you’ll find the Chamber of Gorrors, containing a bunch of unique, extremely powerful monsters. If you wade in unprepared you’ll get stomped flat, shredded and incinerated in about half a turn. However fights are totally optional, a challenge for players with high-level parties and a good understanding of how to optimise their characters combat power. Kind of like the Weapon fights in Final Fantasy 7.