Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom

aka: BS Wizardry 5
Moby ID: 3983
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After L'Kbreth's Orb was used to bring peace back to the land of Llylgamyn, a new threat emerges in the region. Strange malevolent energies have been spotted beneath the Temple of Sages. These energies - called the "Maelstrom" by the local inhabitants - can be sealed by a person known as the Gatekeeper. Unfortunately, the latter has been imprisoned by a mysterious power or person only referred to as SORN. A party of brave adventurers seeks out the high priest G'bli Gedook, the guardian of L'Kbreth's Orb, who explains to them that they have to release the Gatekeeper and eventually vanquish the evil at its core.

Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom returns to the gameplay concept of the first three installments of the series, abandoning the unusual premise of its predecessor. As in the initial games, the gameplay consists of exploring a vast maze-like dungeon with a custom party created and outfitted in the game's only town. Though visually very similar to their predecessors, the game's dungeon is no longer limited to a square layout. Several tweaks have been applied to the gameplay system, including range rating for all weapons (allowing back row attacks), a more prominent role for the Thief class (who can now hide in shadows, backstab enemies, and open locks), etc.

The game is more puzzle-oriented than the preceding entries, requiring the player to obtain a larger quantity of crucial items needed for its completion. It is the first installment in the series with friendly NPCs who can be encountered in the dungeon and interacted with by typing keywords. Also for the first time, the game allows - but does not require - importing characters from a previous scenario.

Spellings

  • ウィザードリィ5 - Japanese spelling
  • ウィザードリィV 災渦の中心 - Super Famicom Japanese spelling

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Credits (PC Booter version)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 71% (based on 13 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 39 ratings with 2 reviews)

Changes nothing, gets better

The Good
With Wizardry V Heart of the Maelstrom, we are taken back to the single dungeon, single town scenario just like veteran players had seen in I-IV. There is little difference in these games (with the exception of IV where you play the bad guy) aside from graphics improvements throughout the years and some innovation in level design. While the majority of these early games in the series tend to be all different dungeons in the same game, something keeps us coming back, delighted everytime we do.

With this version on the SNES, the graphics blow away any other platform the game was released on (i.e. c64, apple II) and it should, considering the massive processing power of the SNES compared to these other platforms. It was never graphics however that made the wizardry series successful.

Staying true to its roots in pencil and paper gaming, wizardry V ups the ante by offering more puzzles than its prdecessors. It isn't sufficient to keep maps and have a party of end game characters to finish wizardry V, as later in the game you are forced to unravel various puzzles to continue. One of which involves the reconstruction of a mechanical humanoid where you must lay out the order of construction part by part to bring it to life. This puzzle doesn't involve random clicking, rather a common sense approach to an archaic mechanical device. It would seem that someone skilled in the artisan trade of clockworking could complete the puzzle on the first try. It is these subtleties that lend excitement to wizardry V.

The atmosphere has remained intact. For those of us that loved and still love the simple wizardry games and aren't sure what it is that intrigues us, this is it. There is something about the atmosphere of the game that spurs us onward, and wizardry V does not fail to deliver.

The Bad
Any fan of the Wizardry series will love Heart of the Maelstrom, however it is safe to say that the jump in design ingenuity is not as great from I-V as it is say, from V-VI (Bane of the Cosmic Forge) and beyond. Newcomers from the SNES era aren't likely to enjoy the game as much as some of the veterans from the old days as the market is flooded with RPG's and newer players wanted fancy graphics and sound, something that the series was not offering at the time.

SNES buyer beware! The game saves files by operating by a battery pack. These battery packs last anywhere from 3-5 years (although I have seen a Zelda game last for 7). Once the battery is depleted you will no longer be able to save your game. Being that the games was published in 1992, 14 years ago at the time of this review, it is not likely that you will be able to find any cartridge capable of saving games. Emulation with saved states is an alternative for the tech-savvy who is serious about playing on SNES.

The Bottom Line
The best way to describe any of the Wizardry games is to show it. By description alone it seems that most would not be very interested in learning about the series because the game seems simplistic in nature. However, with a unique atmosphere and creatively designed monsters, items, and spells, most anyone can learn to love this gem of a sleeper.

SNES · by D Michael (222) · 2006

Delving a good path

The Good
The graphical look of the game is very welcoming and much easier on the eyes than the earlier computer versions of the game. Menus in the castle are accompanied by a background picture, making them more interesting to look at. The dungeon walls have texture instead of grid lines, so you can see doors and corners from several squares away. Monster sprites are crisp and bright and the shadowy versions of them are a cool feature. Adding to the game's atmosphere are orchestral-sounding music tracks that let you know where you are in the menus and how deep you are in the dungeons.

Gameplay is extremely faithful to the original versions of the game, but with new praiseworthy changes. The control scheme caters well for lack of a keyboard. You can comfortably press the D-pad to navigate smoothly and select the menu option you want. You no longer need to manually type the name of spells to cast them, you just select them from your spellcaster's battle menu. The pacing in combat is much faster, but pay attention to your PCs' health points so they don't die without your knowledge.

The Bad
One major problem with the game is that there isn't a proper method of saving your game such as a password or multiple save files on the RAM, which means you can't really correct any mistakes you make in the game, so you'll have no choice but to go along with your losses (works like that in real life).

The control scheme isn't perfect, because in some places it can make the game drag on a bit longer than you'd like. Pressing forward against a wall will make you bump into it and you may accidentally repeat that when you meant to close the message box. You always need to remember that the action button opens unlocked doors and not the forward direction. And the down direction spins you around instead going in reverse. If you practice you can get the hang of the way the controls work.

The Bottom Line
Wizardry V got the royal treatment with this remake. Every element in the game was made with care and attention. D&D fans are in for a treat. Even young adventurers will like this one. If you've got time to delve down and play a good long number of hours on your Super Nintendo, you can never really go wrong with this fifth title in the series. A virtual console re-release on Wii or Switch would be desirable, so if you find this one, then your adventure has begun.

SNES · by Kayburt (29312) · 2022

Discussion

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C128? Rola (8486) Dec 13, 2012

Trivia

Milestone

This was the first game in the Wizardry series that did not involve either Robert Woodhead or Andrew Greenberg, the developers of the original Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. It was instead the first of several in the Wizardry series designed by D.W. Bradley.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

TurboGrafx CD added by Hong Sik Jeon. Commodore 128 added by marquisor. PC Booter added by Trixter. SNES added by PCGamer77. Apple II added by JRK. Commodore 64, FM Towns, PC-88 added by Terok Nor. PC-98 added by Unicorn Lynx.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Alaka, monkeyislandgirl, Kayburt.

Game added May 4, 2001. Last modified February 13, 2024.