A while back I mentioned the Wizardry 6+7 bundle on Gog. This has enabled me to finally own a legal copy of Crusaders of the Dark Savant (wiz 7), about 20 years late. I thought I’d allow myself a replay, even tho I have about 394 games awaiting my attention, none getting any attention because of Fallout New Vegas, and I have no time for nostalgia like this. Instead of the MS Dos original though, I felt like trying the re-release for win95 known as Wizardry Gold.

At heart it’s more or less the same game , so mostly not a lot of changes to comment on. The mini-map is always active, which is handy. The interface feels slower to respond, which is mildly irritating. Most significantly though, there’s voice acting. Which is utterly godawful.

Ok, let me retract that slightly. The guy voicing the ever-present narration is pretty good. He has a bit of gravitas, which is essential given the way his script frequenly meanders off from simple descriptions of locations and events, onto philosophical musings on a range of topics.

Everyone else tho is voiced in an incredibly amateurish manner. I wasn’t at all surprised to find, when I looked up the credits, that the Sir-Tech guys did most of the voice acting themselves. They did try for various distinctive voices, but not once could I buy into the illusion I was listening to a burly soldier or haughty mystics. In each case, characters sound like exactly what they really are, which is a guy in an office haltingly reading aloud and doing a silly voice.

My other rant for the day applies to both old and new version of the game. Every time I start anew I realise, good lord, I hate the character creation.

So, when drawing up a new hero you have to allocate points to stats like and strength, agility. That’s quite common for RPGs, for example still seen in the Fallout games. Here though, the number of points available is randomised. Of course, you want the most possible. So, just keep trying until you get a max roll of the virtual dice, right?

Except, if you get a crappy roll you can’t immediately try again, you have to complete the rest of the character creation. Allocate skills, choose a character portrait, choose spells. A minute’s clicking for a character you will then immediately delete as junk.

To make matters worse, I’m sure the roll is skewed somehow. As in, the results don’t seem fairly distributed between max and min; rolls in the upper range are too rare. It’s possible to have to go through 20 or thirty times to get something above “mediocre”. Oh and then once you have a character you’re happy with, do it all five more times to make a full team.

Okay, so, just suck it up and march out with sub-optimal characters? Don’t be too fussy, you say? Character’s stats go up as you level anyway. Sure, but this is a challenging game and you might miss still those extra points. What’s more, some elite classes such as the Lord or Ninja aren’t even available without a good roll.

tl;dr the game punishes you with an inferior team, for being unwilling to sit through an hour’s boredom before commencing play.

So, yes, ranting today. I still think that Crusaders is great if you want a truly beardy, old school RPG with some good old fashioned dungeon crawling, and nail-biting combat. But accessibility was never its strong spot.