Wizardry IV is a first-person, grid-based
, RPG. The game is set in the same world as the previous titles within the series. However, in a dramatic twist, players take on the role of the evil wizard, Werdna, and must guide him through a ten-level dungeon to escape the clutches of his enemies. Many consider this the toughest Wizardry game in the series as well as one of the more innovative and difficult RPG titles to have emerged in the CRPG genre. The designers intended the game for veterans of the Wizardry series.
The title uses a slightly enhanced version of the aging engine used within its preceding three titles. The engine would then later be used and enhanced for a final time with Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom
The relatively simple and clear interface is organized around a series of commands and actions listed at the bottom of the screen as well as a combined inventory and statistics screen.
Creating a Scenario Diskette was needed in order the game on. The CD-ROM version of the game automatically circumvented this by creating one on the drive when installed. This game did not have a console re-release as its predecessors had.
The manual was also noteworthy for being written in a way that made Wizardry appear appealing to newcomers with little to no experience with an RPG. Illustrated with humorous drawings and a great deal of detail worked into its text. A section walked a player through a fictional scenario that might occur within the game while explaining its concepts with several examples.
Originally, the game made use of a form of copy protection in which it would challenge the player with a randomly generated 12-digit number after completing the first level of the dungeon. The player would then have to refer to a small book which contained a listing of 16-digit "MordorCharge Card" numbers which resembled credit card numbers. Because the book was printed on dark, red paper, it made photocopies of the required codes difficult for the technology available to end-users at the time. By entering the proper code, the player could proceed with the game.
In a certain way, Wizardry IV's anti-cheating mechanism resembled the same technique used to sell shareware titles on a "try before you buy" basis, although in Wizardry's case, it was sold as a full package with the code required as a proof of purchase.
Players could now save the game from within the dungeon and resume where they had left off as opposed to traveling back to the Castle because in this game, there is no Castle aside from the one keeping you imprisoned.
Wizardry's story is firmly rooted within fantasy although now, in a twist, the player is cast as the evil wizard Werdna who had been defeated in the first game, Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
. The manual outlines the story of Wizardry from Werdna's perspective lending a great deal of detail to his motivations and the reason for his scheming.
Five years had passed since he had captured the mystical amulet from Trebor, the Mad Overlord. His agents had only been a few hours a head of Werdna in retrieving the artifact from its resting place within a forgotten temple. Worn around the neck of a forgotten god whose name was only whispered in ancient and forbidden tomes, perhaps for fear that it might invoke something terrible for uttering it, it was a prize worth risking everything for.
The mist enshrouded valley that hid the Temple had always been known as the Gods' Hopyard supposedly because of a great portal that was opened one night by a demented archmage. Arcane legends speak of a night that the Gods came there and played. The world shook as the mountains danced with the whole sky afire with shimmering colors. As dawn rose, a titanic voice thundered a harsh command and everything in the world froze in mid-stride. Then there seemed to be a great inhaling, a loud implosion, and then the world began moving once more.
The portal was gone and who or what had chased back the Gods and closed it were left as mysteries. It was a long time before anyone who was brave enough to venture into the valley and discover the fate of those within it had returned. It was quite difficult to see with a dense mist now covering the valley's edges. But at the far end of the valley loomed a great Temple whose architecture was unlike anything ever seen before. At its center stood a single altar wherein stood a great statue. Around its neck hung an amulet that glowed with such magical energy that none could gaze upon it for long.
As to what this amulet is or to whom it might have belonged are questions that scholars have debated for the last three thousand years. Some feel that it was the focus by which the portal was opened and that any who possessed it could open the way for the Gods' return. Others guessed that it was too powerful to have originated here and so it must be a remnant of the Gods' stay. A third group agreed with this assessment, but went further in saying that ti was used in chasing away the very Gods themselves, thus making it more powerful than they. Furthermore, the statue and the amulet were placed in the valley to prevent their return. This group was laughed at by the others, if only because the implications held within their theory were too terrible to consider.
Over the ages, many thieves and mages were drawn to the legends told of the amulet. All who sought to possess it had thus far failed, but Werdna was intrigued by its wonders and the speculation surrounding its origins. Werdna, however, took the more prudent approach in preparing himself for whatever safeguards may have been placed around it, but no one knew what traps may lie in wait within the Temple itself. Nothing was written of any such dangers and why every attempt to penetrate its mysteries had always ended in failure.
One day, Werdna was approached by a dealer of dubious antiques. From among the obvious fakes and worthless trinkets was a scroll that he claimed was over a thousand years old. He assured the mightiest Wizard of the Age that no one had ever opened it and demanded an outrageous sum for it. Interested, Werdna haggled him down to a mere pittance and took the scroll only to discover that it had been resealed by someone else. After making a note to send a demon after the duplicitous dealer, Werdna studied his prize.
It was, indeed, quite old and in poor conditions with its inscriptions faded and written in an unknown tongue. It only took the mighty wizard a few minutes to restore the document, but it would take him a year's worth of intense study to translate its secrets. It was then Werdna discovered that the scroll was written by an apprentice to the wizard that had opened that gate so long ago. From what Werdna could tell, his mind had been nearly wrecked by what he had become a witness to for only stray bits and snatches of thought were dabbled onto the parchment.
From these scraps, Werdna saw that the apprentice kept repeating something over and over again about the glowing eye of THE GOD which Werdna took to be the amulet. He also ranted about losing the Mythril Gauntlets that were enstrusted to his care and groveling for forgiveness from someone or something. The last part of the scroll was filled with dire prophecies and fears of eternal torment for his failures.
Werdna was elated. If he could correctly follow these clues, the amulet could be his. Unfortunately, he had already dealt with the antique dealer's soul, so Werdna needed to send his minions out to scour the land in search of any mention of the gauntlets mentioned in the scroll. The gauntlets seemed to be the key to handling the awesome powers of the amulet safely and Werdna feverishly sought them. After many months, only one of the fabled gloves were recovered. In gratitude, Werdna only executed half of the surviving agents.
Now armed, he set off in search of the secret vale. But upon reaching it, Werdna discovered that another party had already seized the amulet hours before. Werdna slumped to the floor in defeat only to see the trail left behind by the thieves. Following it and using it as a clue, Werdna used his scrying mirror to show what had happened outside of the valley where the trail had supposedly led.
Four men shrouded in black robes had entered the valley, from what Werdna could see, and only three had left. One of the men carried something at an arm's distance and Werdna could see the bluish grey light gleaming on his hand: the other gauntlet! The antique dealer must have copied the scroll and whoever else had translated it had found the same clues.
Summoning two demons and using them to interrogate the soul of the antique dealer, Werdna discovered that although five copies were made, only one was sold prior to his death. The Mad Overlord, Trebor, was the buyer. Once he knew where it had gone, Werdna summoned creatures to keep Trebor's guards busy while he, himself, cast a spell of fear over Trebor and all those around him. Using his own glove, Werdna plucked the amulet from Trebor's fear frozen form and returned to his tower.
The amulet was finally his! The power of a universe at his beck and call. Werdna decided that his tower was no longer suitable for someone that now had the power to rule a world, so he created a ten-level dungeon to both feed his pets and rub the nose of his rival in his success. A Maze right beneath Trebor's Castle.
The amulet's power almost proved to be too much for Werdna to handle with only a tiny sliver nearly blasting him into ashes. But he was successful. The ground beneath the Castle melted, churned, and twisted out like pulled taffy to his will. When everything had cooled, a ten level Maze stood ready to accept its new master. It was fortuitous that it was as twisted and as large as it was for the ceremony channeling the amulet's power had demolished Werdna's tower in the process. There, he settled in to study the amulet closely before invoking its awesome power once again. He had almost died once. He wasn't going to make the same near-fatal mistake again.
Five years passed without the amulet yielding anymore of its secrets, although Werdna did discover why a gauntlet was needed to hold the relic when it disintegrated an unprotected minion tasked to bring it to him. From that point on, Werdna kept the amulet within a case so as to keep his minions from carelessly touching the artifact without the glove.
But tragedy did strike. Suddenly, while entertaining a vampire lord and several other monstrous guests, the door to his study was kicked open as a wild eyed party of adventurers entered the room. Werdna was too far from the amulet to reach it in time and the pentagram used for summoning monsters was on the other side of the room. Quickly gathering up his energy, the adventurers rushed at him. They miraculously survived the first blast of his spell and as he readied himself to destroy them, their fighter had managed to hit him with a critical strike. As he fell to the ground, Werdna could hear the party exclaim that they had recovered the amulet...for Trebor.
Werdna's body was imprisoned within his own dungeon, now laden with even more deadly traps to guard against his return, but the powerful wizard was not entirely stripped of his powers. After awakening from his torments, Werdna slowly regained his powers by rediscovering the pentagrams of power still alive within his domain, summoning monsters to his side, and fighting his way to one of several destinies...
- Live as an Overlord - Through his actions, Werdna becomes the new Overlord. Under his benevolent rule, the Realm entered an age of peace and plenty. The evil acts of the past are long forgotten but the nagging feeling remains: has he forgotten something?
- God of Destruction - In challenging the god, Kadorto, Werdna uses the Dragon Claw and defeats him, taking his power. Kadorto's former priests now revere him as the Great God Werdna. With the amulet in hand, Werdna blots the world with death and destruction as he expands his reach. Other planes beckon, all to feed his lust for power. But every once in awhile, he wonders if he has forgotten something.
- Trapped Forever - Taking the Green Sword, old forgotten powers awaken within Werdna as the sword leaps to his hand in attacking Kadorto. The sword parries his thunderbolts as Werdna awaits an opening, finding one at last, and striking his ankle. Kadorto looks puzzles as s ribbon of green lightning snakes up his leg, turning him into a statue. Fascinated beyond all caution, Werdna touches the statue which turns to dust. Choking on it, Werdna hears Kadorto's voice say "Gotcha!". Werdna then discovers that he had become a statue, still clutching the amulet, and the priests come to venerate him as a god. With every passing moment, Werdna awaits the day when some greedy fool will try to steal the amulet from his hand, releasing him. Werdna has the adulation of the people, but in the back of his mind, he feels that he has forgotten something.
- The God of Greed - Drawing the Blue Sword, Werdna battles Kadorto. It dances in his hands as he fights the god whose blows turn to rubble all that they strike. As Werdna leaps at the titanic god, the sword instinctively touches his chest scoring a critical hit. Kadorto utters a strange gurgle, almost as if it were a laugh, and then shimmers before disappearing. The priests enter the room and proclaim Werdna the new god, although are slightly disappointed at hearing that he only wants to keep the form he has instead of something greater. As the years pass, vast temples and monasteries are erected everywhere in the Realm. Tithes may be strict, but the people still love Werdna so the priests continue to say. But, has he forgotten something?
- The Truth Revealed - Using the Kris, its blade shimmering like light, Werdna faces Kadorto without fear, for Werdna is whole and secure in his knowledge of the Tree of Life. Kadorto's massive form stops when it sees the glowing blade in your hand and screams for Werdna to stop. The Kris blazes forth, its light revealing every lie and illusion. Kadorto's motions become jerky and smoke begins to pour out of his knees and elbows. The head pops open and a singed priest climbs out of a concealed control cabin. So this was Kadorto, a fake, an invention created to perpetuate their social position and control over men! As Werdna laughs at the sight, the Kris also reveals the amulet for what it is: a dangerous trap for the unwary, a joke of the gods. It is neither good nor evil, but fashioned out of pure chaos. Werdna vows to "return it" to its makers and is sure that the Kris will aid him. Outside, Werdna walks into the sunshine feeling at last free and alive. He has returned to the world. But, has he forgotten something? Werdna laughs for he knows that he hasn't. He is the master of his own fate and the winding paths of the Tree of Life illuminate the shape of his destiny!
The gameplay of Wizardry IV is dramatically different from its predecessors, or from any other of the Wizardry titles as well as many CRPGs. Players could not import characters into the game from the previous Wizardrys as they were cast as the powerful wizard, Werdna, as he attempts to escape a dungeon filled with nefarious traps to one of several endings which include a special "Grandmaster" ending given to those that fulfill the most difficult requirements of the endgame.
All menu commands used while exploring the dungeon along with interface hotkeys were similar to those used in the previous games with the obvious omission of any Castle or Party Setup considerations due to the different mechanics used within the game as Werdna.
The key to surviving the game is in discovering the pentagrams located on each level (aside from the final areas). By using these, the player, as Werdna, can summon monsters to do their bidding or replace those killed in action as well as increase the wizard's personal power by one level. Only by finding these and in using them to their advantage does the player have any hope of making it to the top.
Players did not assemble a party of adventurers. Instead, they were cast as the dark wizard, Werdna, whose powers were nearly stripped entirely from him. But, as he makes his way through the dungeon, he will discover special pentagrams in which he can regain some of his lost talents as well as use in order to summon monsters in order to fight adventurers roaming his prison.
By using these pentagrams, Werdna can summon up to three parties of monsters into his company to defend himself with as he starts out extremely weak. The strength of the summoned monsters are directly related to how powerful Werdna is.
The party of monsters that Werdna calls up also automatically heal up at the end of every combat although Werdna will need to travel to a pentagram in order to restore his own hit points (if he doesn't have priests to help him) as well as his spell power.
Werdna did not earn experience in the game and neither did his party of summoned monsters. The only way for Werdna to "level up" is to discover a pentagram and use it. This can only be done once at every pentagram and is vital to enable Werdna to both survive the dangers to his person as well as call forth more powerful minions.
Unlike many other RPGs that reward exploration and extensive combat grinds, doing so in Wizardry IV is actually counterproductive. Werdna and his monsters gain nothing from their battles and items are earned only from set encounters. Spending more time than necessary in any level where adventurers will continue to randomly spawn will only prove to grind the party down.
Enemies in the game take the form of adventurers of all classes and races that are trying to stop Werdna from escaping the dungeon, many of them heroes from the previous games. They grow progressively more powerful the higher Werdna rises up through its levels and reward no experience or items for defeating them aside from set encounters.
Since the enemies are also made up of classes from the Wizardry games, it is entirely possible to run into devastatingly brutal groups of extreme difficulty. Ninjas, for example, are still more than capable of using their critical strike skill to instantly kill the player if given the opportunity. Enemy clerics will also resurrect fallen comrades and powerful spellcasting wizards will pummel the player will magic.
Many of the later enemies are actually characters that had been sent to Sir-Tech by veteran Wizardry players as part of a contest.
Every trick and trap that veteran players may have encountered in the previous Wizardry titles are found in this game. Spinning floors, dark areas immune to light, teleports, pits, and a variety of traps such as a minefield with only one safe path through its dangers are only a few of the puzzles and dangers that players will be forced to face. The first room that the player wakes up in notorious for hiding the exit until they use a spell to help reveal it and that is only at the start of the game.
Combat in Wizardry IV is a turn based affair with random encounters providing the cannon fodder that would feed the party's thirst for experience points. When enemies encountered the party, a list of enemies along with a picture showing what they were onscreen would appear.
Similar to other RPGs of the era, its strict turn-based system halts the passage of time until the player performs an action (such as moving around or casting spells). In combat, the order in which characters act is determined primarily by their statistics, although the player issues orders to every character in the party before commencing a turn. Besides using melee and/or ranged weapons and casting spells, characters with the appropriate skills can hide (which means enemies cannot hurt them), use items in their inventory, equip new weapons or items or try to run away from battle which.
It is not possible to save the game or restore a saved game while in combat mode, but there are no other restrictions on when and where the player can save the game. Because there is no Castle in Wizardry IV, the player can opt to save their progress during play without having to restart the party or quick save and then exit.
In each round of combat, everyone makes their selection of actions as the game calculates who will have initiative and then executing their orders. At the end of combat, all of the monsters still alive in Werdna's party will automatically heal up to full. Werdna himself must either use magic to heal himself or visit a pentagram in order to restore spent spell points and lost health.
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