Nemesis: The Wizardry Adventure
Over the past six months we have seen the re-appearance of two very popular and enduring computer game names with the release of a new Zork adventure and, now, a new Wizardry adventure. I mention this because, quite coincidentally, both of these newer games bear the word 'Nemesis' in their title and, though they also bear the respected names of either Zork or Wizardry, both represent a fairly drastic departure from their predecessors. Zork Nemesis lost the humour, and thus much of the atmosphere of its predecessors, to the point that it ultimately bore little resemblance to the old Zork games, whilst Wizardry Nemesis is also very different from its namesakes ... it's undergone a change of game category, making it a very different gaming experience.
Now let's hope that the use of the word 'nemesis' isn't some kind of omen for either of these two series because change always stirs up some discontent. It did with Zork Nemesis and it surely will with Wizardry Nemesis although both games have a lot to recommend them.
Wizardry Nemesis is a combination role-playing/adventure game, so, if you are expecting a roleplaying game with a massive world to explore and weeks, or maybe even months, of solid turn based combat and puzzle solving as you negotiate your way through the story, then you are in for quite a surprise. Though it has many roleplaying elements it also has its fair share of pure adventuring elements, but more about this in a moment.
As with other Wizardry titles, Nemesis is a first person perspective game, however, with this one you only control a single male character, a lonely traveller, newly arrived in the town of Galican. It's dark and oppressive and most of the townsfolk hide behind locked doors. You, however, are braving the outside world when a winged Shadow attacks and carries you off. All would be lost had Rian the Sage not been on hand. Hurling a fireball he thwarts the Shadow and rescues you, taking you back to his humble abode. Very soon you learn that the ancient magick of the Nitherin has returned and you, a mere commoner with no knowledge of the art of magick, must set out to find the Talismans and overcome the evil.
Well since it is part roleplaying there is a statistics component to this game plus a good deal of fighting. Dealing firstly with the statistics, they are fairly limited and you take no part in creating your character or allocating any bonuses during play. You simply take a pre-determined character and his statistics such as health, energy, dexterity, etc., will increase as you gain experience. Your skill points with various weapons will also increase and, with a bit of luck, you will progress from a mere peasant to a very respectable master. I began by watching my statistics closely but it is quite unnecessary to get pedantic about this aspect of the game as everything is automatic and no actions rely heavily on specialised skills.
Fighting is in real time and there are a number of attacking options such a swing, thrust or parry which are achieved by different mouse movements. I have to confess that, although I achieved the esteemed title of master, I never mastered the finer points of fighting. For me at least, frantic clicking was the most successful strategy.
Of course, as well as combat with weapons, you also have your magic to fall back on. There is a total of 16 spells which range from healing (not recommended during combat as you are far too vulnerable) to poison cure and firestorm, sandstorm or windstorm. Rian gives you your first spell to get you up and running and the rest you will find scribed onto scrolls as you progress in your travels.
Wizardry Nemesis consists of quite a large game world with outdoor areas as well as underground caverns where you would swear you were travelling in a traditional roleplaying environment. Then there are the more problem solving sections of the game where you seem to slip into a traditional graphic adventure. During these times you have the opportunity to search various locations and overcome obstacles whilst relatively free from marauding monsters. I say relatively free because there is still sometimes danger lurking nearby and, in the library for instance, innocent looking books can hide very unpleasant surprises.
The more adventure type puzzles featured in this game are not too difficult, especially at the outset. However, they do get a little trickier towards the end and unless you are very observant you might find yourself slowing down somewhat at this time, I did. You will need to find secret rooms, locate important information in books and be on the look out for various symbols that might be of use in puzzle solving. Nothing mind-wrenching, mind you, if you pay attention, and there is always the Tour Guide to help you out.
All the graphics in Wizardry Nemesis, both outdoor and indoor, are detailed and very impressive. I loved the Nitherin Library towards the end. Also, during the course of the game, when you meet other characters, for instance, or for various transitions, there are a number of short animated cut sequences. Some of these are quite spectacular, such as riding the gondola across an abyss, and, fortunately, you can press the escape button to skip them if you've seen them a dozen times already.
The game interface is simple point and click although you can also use your keyboard if that suits you better. At the top of the screen an icon allows access to the 8 save game slots and here you can also find the Preferences menu to fine tune sound, music and brightness, as well as the Settings menu to toggle the subtitles off and on, or to change the turning mode. Other features include a map to which you can add your own notes, as well as a diary which is automatically updated each time you enter a new area. Remember to refer to it regularly as it contains clues to help you along and notations of the important information you have discovered.
The game consists of 5 CDs and there is an installation mode for DOS and for Win 95, although, as the manual states 'it is not a Windows 95 native program'. There are three installation modes, minimum, medium and maximum, and don't be fooled by the opening installation screen as I was. It defaults to 'minimum' before you begin installation, just ignore this and continue as the following screen will allow you to choose which installation you prefer.
Well I must say that despite not being particularly impressed by the real time combat, I quite enjoyed this game as it's a good blend of traditional adventuring and roleplaying. It is never difficult, especially with the helpful hints at hand, so most of you will move along at a fair pace and not get too bogged down too often ... if at all. For novice players, in particular, the 'Tour Guide' that is included in the package is very useful. This guide contains a walkthrough for the first part of the game and thereafter you can check it out for some helpful pointers.
Still, it isn't easy to make recommendations for a game such as this because of its mixed bag of tricks. If you like action adventure games then it will surely be a treat, however, I suspect that it won't please everyone. Serious role-players won't be happy because of its lack of statistical depth, and the combat will almost certainly fail to inspire many traditional graphic adventure game players. This one is for all of you who sit somewhere in the middle.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1996.
All rights reserved.
486/66 (Pentium recommended), 8MB RAM (16MB recommended), 2xCD-ROM (quad speed recommended), DOS 5.0 or higher, mouse, soundcard, SVGA