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Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls

For: iPhone

Dungeon Calling

Product: Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls | Publisher: Acquire Corp. | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 2.05
Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls iPhone, thumbnail 1
The great thing about progress is that it generally makes your life easier. The advancements made in the fields of technology, medicine, and engineering have yielded time-saving improvements to our everyday lives, and it’s almost impossible to imagine how we’d survive without them.

The same is true of video games: modern titles benefit not only from vastly superior hardware, but also from the vital lessons learned by developers over the past 30-odd years.

If you need proof of how far we’ve come, give Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls a spin. Here we have a game that's so hell-bent on replicating the feel of a vintage RPG that it gleefully abandons many of the crutial advancements that have been made in the genre over the past couple of decades.

Back to old skool

Based on a cult role-playing series birthed at the dawn of the genre, Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls is a dungeon-crawler in every sense of the word.

You build up a party of six brave adventurers and head into a dank and dismal pit with thoughts of fame and fortune running through your head.

Of course, like any decent dungeon, the one in this title is packed with monsters all baying for your blood. In the best tradition of Japanese RPGs, encountering these foes is entirely random - you get no warning of when you’re going to be attacked, and battles adopt a turn-based format where each combatant dutifully waits for his chance to act.

There’s nothing wrong with this aspect of Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls. In fact, we applaud the old skool sensibilities of the title, as we’re massive fans of similar games, such as Sega’s Shining in the Darkness and Shining the Holy Ark.

Can’t see the wood for the trees

The big problem here is that Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls fails to augment this retro gameplay with modern improvements. There’s no tutorial to speak of, leaving you very much in the dark when it comes to figuring out what each element of the interface is for.

A prime example of this needlessly obtuse game design is the acquisition of a map. You’d think you’d get this vital item from the outset, but you need to buy it before entering the dungeon itself.

Heading to the shop, your intuition tells you to tap the ‘Buy’ icon. Doing so brings up a menu that shows the items each of your characters is currently holding, but no actual list of things to purchase. Confused, you’ll most likely exit the shop menu and see if the Inn, Temple of Guildhall are able to sell you the parchment you desire.

In actual fact, the Shop is the correct location - but to buy things you first need to physically select the party member who will be performing the actual purchasing process.

In Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls, each character has his own individual inventory and gold reserves - something that strikes us as unnecessary and archaic.

Nothing of any value comes easy

Once you become accustomed to Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls’s foibles, the game really opens up. Watching your characters develop is addictive, and equipping them with better armour and weapons is equally appealing. All of this is aided by decent presentation, with gorgeous hand-drawn artwork and some brilliant music.

The positive impression created by the visuals and sound is dented somewhat by the ugly menu interface and occasionally tiny text, which is almost impossible to read.

It’s worth noting that Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls is being sold in a rather unusual manner. The app itself is free to download, but what you’re essentially getting is a demo version. Your characters can't progress past a certain experience level, and only the first floor of the dungeon is open to you.

You get what you pay for

To complete the game, you need to splash out on in-app purchases which bring the cost up to around $10 / £6. That’s not a totally unreasonable amount when you consider the hours of entertainment available, and the fact that you can choose to unlock the game in segments prevents you from spending a large volume of cash on a game you may not see through to completion.

Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls makes no effort to hand-hold or guide you, and we can imagine that many prospective adventurers will lay down their swords and shields before even making a dent in the considerable quest that’s on offer.

While the developer should take some blame for deliberately ignoring many game design elements that would have enriched Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls without compromising its integrity, there’s no denying that this is a thoroughly rewarding RPG concealed beneath that ice-cold facade of old skool posturing.
Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 9 November 2011
Shamelessly old skool in almost every regard, Wizardry Labyrinth of Lost Souls acts as if the past twenty years of RPG development never happened, yet it still manages to provide an engrossing experience for anyone brave and determined enough to fight through its obtuse exterior
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