Wizardry: The Return of Werdna - The Fourth Scenario
The fourth game in the Wizardry series, The Return of Werdna takes a decidedly different approach from all the games that preceded it. Instead of playing as a party of six player-generated characters, the player controls Werdna himself, the evil Archmage from the first game. It seems that after Werdna was defeated by the party of adventurers who stole his amulet, he was imprisoned at the bottom of his ten-level labyrinth in an eternal slumber to be tortured by nightmares for eternity. Although Werdna was supposed to sleep forever, somehow he has awakened, and now he is out for revenge.
At the beginning of the game Werdna finds himself in a situation that is singularly unique for most arch-villains: he is stripped of his powers, trapped within his own former stronghold, and filled with the realization that the same traps and monsters he created to keep adventurers out now act as obstacles to his freedom.
Werdna will slowly regain his magical powers as well as have the ability to summon helpful monsters to accompany him on his journey and aid him in combat. Unlike other role-playing games, no experience is awarded for defeating enemies. Instead, Werdna can only become stronger by searching for pentagrams found in the labyrinth. Accessing a new pentagram allows Werdna to summon stronger monsters and restore his health and spellcasting powers. Werdna will have to fight a variety of monsters and guardians, but many of the randomly appearing enemies in the game are parties of adventurers not unlike those who were controlled by the player in the previous three games. In addition, Werdna is being chased by the rather ticked-off ghost of his old enemy Trebor.
The game features a somewhat tweaked version of the same engine and graphics used in the earlier installments of the series. The difficulty level has been increased due to the lack of an experience points system, which often leaves the player-controlled party underpowered. The labyrinth contains abundant traps and complex mazes. For obvious reasons it is no longer possible to import characters from the previous games. The game features three different endings: a good ending, an evil ending, and a special Grandmaster ending which is often considered to be the single most difficult task to achieve in the entire series.
Credits (PC Booter version)
|Title Screen Design
Average score: 48% (based on 3 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 32 ratings with 1 reviews)
* Unusual perspective -- play as the villain, lead bands of orcs, kobolds, and other strange monsters against a collection of do-gooder heroes.
- Challenging. This is a thinking person's game. Return of Werdna is to computer RPGs what the Rubik's cube was to conventional games ... an immensely difficult mental challenge that is nonetheless rewarding if you are one of the few who will finish it.
"Unforgiving" is an apt one-word description for this game.
To start with, there are no on-board mapping utilities so you'd best have a pencil and graph paper handy. In addition, there are no "experience points" as there are in other RPGs; your capabilities and damage are hard-set at the summoning pentagrams. This means that every level your opponents will always be just a little tougher than you are, requiring every ounce of combat skill and savvy you, the player, can muster to tip the balance.
Although I've never played that far, I've heard from others that have that this is a game where pure chance can easily wreck everything you've done and send you back to the bottom of the maze. Or you may forget/misplace an item and have to start all over from scratch.
Combat takes some time to learn; you can summon up to three different monster groups to accompany you in the maze. Some are highly effective while others are nearly worthless. Unfortunately, the tuition for learning which is which is to be sent back to the bottom of the maze -- again and again.
For this reason, experience in the earlier wizardry games is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Did I mention that there's a ghost pursuing you, dogging your steps such that if you don't move quickly enough you suffer instant death and, again, have to start over?
The Bottom Line
This game was and is the ultimate thinking person's challenge in computer-based RPGs. While other games are an exercise in killing monsters and collecting treasure, this is a nearly worthless exercise in Wizardry IV: the Return of Werdna.
The most noteworthy thing about it is the total inversion of the normal perspective; rather than a hero descending into the dungeon to slay the Evil Overlord, you play the Evil Overlord ascending through the dungeon, encountering (and defeating) bands of adventuring parties -- some of whom are collected from successful adventuring bands in previous games.
It's excellent for a change of pace when one wishes to indulge their inner Darth Vader, put on a black cape and go striding forth to conquer to the strains of "Imperial March", all the while engaging in diabolical fits of laughter. Just don't expect to win.
PC Booter · by Brian Pendell (17) · 2006
|Jan 23, 2016
If you were able to beat the game, a code was displayed on the screen that was made up of three separate numbers. The code could then be sent to Sir-Tech and the player would receive a certificate in the mail in acknowledgment of beating the game. The code also served to let the developers know how well a person did during the course of the game, and whether or not any cheats or alterations took place.
Some of the enemy groups were based on player parties from previous Wizardry games. Sir-tech got a hold on them for various reasons, e.g. when players sent in their disks for reviving their group.
The PC version of the game shipped with a "Mordor Charge Card", which has the dimensions and look of a credit card. There was a number stamped on it, which served to unlock the game's copy protection. No two charge cards are the same, all are unique, and this item is extremely difficult to find. It is often a centerpiece to the hardcore collector's collection.
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Alan Chan.
Game added April 3, 2000. Last modified February 13, 2024.