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wizardry proving grounds of the mad overlord

The first ever party-based RPG is just as good as ever thanks to the 3D remake of Wizardry

Created way back in 1981, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord was the first ever party-based RPG. With countless games copying the formula since, it’s undoubtedly been highly influential. Now, thanks to Digital Eclipse, players can jump into a 3D remake of the RPG classic, choosing to keep things as authentic as possible but with a snazzy visual makeover.

The 3D remake of Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord has been available on PC for some time now thanks to Steam Early Access. Having left early access on 23rd May, however, it’s now available on consoles, too. So, whether you game on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S or Switch, you’re free to engage in some old-fashioned dungeon crawling.

Having created the mould that has gone relatively unchanged for over 40 years, anyone that has played a party-based dungeon crawler should be able to hit the ground running with Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord whether they’re familiar with the original game or not. While there is a story here, it’s very much secondary to the gameplay. But first things first, you need to put together a party.

Wizardry Proving Grounds Mad Overlord
Image: Digital Eclipse

For those just wanting to get into the action, you can have Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord quickly put a party together for you. Otherwise, you can painstakingly complete the task yourself. In any case, there are many classes available, ranging from powerful fighters that will be doing most of your basic damage dealing, to thieves, who are great for detecting whether treasure chests are trapped or not, then disarming them if so.

Those who really get into Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord will eventually want to tweak and optimise their party, playing to their personal strengths while also making sure certain bases are covered. It’s pretty much essential to have a magic-caster that can heal, for example. But ultimately, the makeup of your party is up to you. You could have a full party of fighters if you wish, but it would be highly ineffective.

Playing from a first-person viewpoint upon entering the maze — the titular Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord — you’ll move from square to square, uncovering the map as you go. Battles are random and unpredictable; you could get into battle with just a few Kobolds who quickly decide to simply run away, or you could come up against a horde of orcs backed up with slimes, or worse. Danger, then, is always around the corner.

Wizardry Proving Grounds Mad Overlord
Image: Digital Eclipse

As you progress deeper into the maze, death is pretty much inevitable. Thankfully, however, this 3D remake of Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord has some quality-of-life options that make it a little more easy-going. Though they’re optional, of course. Play with the original settings, for instance, and bad things can happen to the dead bodies of your team members should your party be wiped out, such as valuable items being stolen. But it doesn’t have to be so punishing.

Along with other quality-of-life features, such as being able to save and exit your game mid-run, and of course the attractive visuals that make this classic one of the best-looking example of the genre out there, and you have a game that is genuinely renewed for modern audiences. Sure, it can still be a little uncompromising at times, but that’s something which helps keep you on the edge of your seat, cautious of what’s around the next corner. And once you get sucked in, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is a game that will eat up your spare time.

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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