Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls Playtest: Happily Lost in the Dungeons

By Jenni . June 21, 2011 . 12:01pm


Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls has eight potential main characters, each with their own reasons to become an adventurer and enter the labyrinth. Some, like the human woman Odette and the elf woman Lind, want money. Others, like the gnome Dia, want to research. Then there are the somewhat strange stories, like the elf Verne that wants to learn more about plants. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. The goal is to explore as much of the Dungeon of Trials and Shiin Dungeon as possible without dying.


That’s right, there are only two dungeons in Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls. Don’t let that deter you though. These dungeons are difficult. I’ve spent 30 hours on the game (helpfully reminded by a trophy given for playing for that long) and I’ve only completely mapped through B4F of the Dungeon of Trials and part of B4F of Shiin Dungeon. That’s only around 30% of both dungeons. Trust me when I say that you will only need two dungeons. They’re both quite challenging and large. Plus, if you need more content, you can buy access to lower depths of the Dungeon of Trials with some DLC from the PlayStation Store. You should be fine with what’s there though, especially since you’ll be spending a lot of time level grinding.


So first, you jump in by picking one of the eight characters and starting their story. Each time you play Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, you can go through any character’s scenario. The save file you create covers all of them. So if you want to try the male dwarf’s scenario, then switch to the human male’s after an hour or two, go for it. Just save, then go back to the title screen. The next time you load up, the character select screen will show all of the main characters’ stats and locations.



This is fantastic because the main characters can get up to 40 bonus points to allocate to their stats. It’s random, so I recommend selecting, unselecting and then reselecting characters until you see the number 40 next to the bonus. Don’t get too carried away though! I passed up a 40 bonus twice for the human male Chris because I was a tad overzealous. Anyways, with that kind of potential you can start with one of the advanced classes like a ninja or lord.


This is important, because depending on the main characters’ tendencies, they can join the parties of other main characters when you aren’t playing their scenario. In my case, I started with the female gnome Dia’s scenario and then was able to add a Samurai male elf Verne and Lord elf woman Lind to my party. This meant I’d get more advanced class characters in Dia’s party. It also meant I could get the other characters started off right by leveling them up as party members and giving them equipment found in the dungeon. Of course, if you want to play that other character’s scenario, you have to boot them from the party they’re currently in first.


So, once you’ve started the game and put together a party of six characters (three in front, three in back), you’re ready to hit the town and start exploring. There’s an Inn, where you can rest to recover MP or HP and collect DLC purchased from the PlayStation Store, an item shop where you can buy, sell, appraise and uncurse items, a temple where you can try and resurrect dead characters or pay a tithe to level up, a Guild where you can take on quests, adjust the party and trade items and a Palace where there’s royalty to talk to. It’s all fairly standard stuff, and you’ll likely spend an equal amount of time in all areas, except the palace, preparing for each journey into the labyrinths. For the most part, you’ll spend sojourns here having mages sleep in the stables for free to restore MP, selling items you don’t need, appraising items if you don’t have a bishop and resurrecting party members if you don’t have a priest or bishop. Sure, you’ll occasionally check for quests or item trades, but after a while you build up a routine that involves only the most basic stops.


From there, it’s into the dungeon. Like all Wizardry games, Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is a first person dungeon crawler. You wander around the paths, trying to find the stairs or elevator to the next floor. If you remembered to buy a map at the item shop for the levels you’re on, or have a mage with the right spell, pressing the square button will bring up the map to see where you are and where you’ve been. The map is automatically generated, and shows where switches, doors, elevators, warp points and traps are. If you’ve played Etrian Odyssey or Class of Heroes, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing. Though you may start to yearn for the Etrian Odyssey method of mapping, where it’s conveniently on the lower screen and you can add your own helpful notes.



The dungeons are a tad sadistic too. B3F of Shiin and it’s unexpected warp points resulted in the permadeath of a character I’d spent quite a bit of time leveling and building up, thank you very much. Plus there are random lightning traps just scattered on some floors. After walking on one unexpectedly, the next tile after it had a "sign" that asked something along the lines of, "Did it hurt?" Lovely. Not to mention the areas in some dungeon that are magic-free zone. You’ll usually realize this once you walk into a battle with some uber-beast, then realize your competent mages and bishops won’t be able to save the day. (Am I still bitter about losing that Samurai who had a Claymore equipped? Of course not!)


When battles pop up, you’re treated to incredibly detailed monster art. They’re static, but gorgeous. This is especially true if you have an HDTV. They’re arranged in rows, up to three. When your party attacks, melee attacks will only hit the enemy group in front. Only magic and ranged weapons can hit the other rows. Also, only the three characters in your party’s front line will be able to use melee attacks. The back have to use spells or ranged weapons if they want to hit. If one of your characters has a class specific ability, like the priest’s exorcise that can knock out all undead characters in a row in one hit, they can use it from any position. So, you have to think strategically when fighting.


Strategy is also a big factor in party building and arranging. You want heavy melee damage dealers and tanks in front, keeping the more fragile thieves, priests and glass cannon mages and bishops in back. The first person in the back row should also be pretty substantial, as the first person in the front row to die will result in that character being moved to the front.


You also need to think ahead when picking character classes. Advanced classes (Bishop, Samurai, Lord, Ninja) almost always trump the introductory classes (Fighter, Mage, Priest, Thief). There are a few exceptions to this rule though. Priests are exceptionally handy on dungeon floors rife with undead enemies, since their unique exorcise skill can wipe out a whole line of enemies instantly. Thieves are also the only class pretty much guaranteed to always be able to determine a treasure chests’ trap and successfully remove it or open a locked door. Personally, my main party consists of two Lords, one Samurai, two Bishops and a Priest. Sure, it means there’s a good chance treasure chests won’t get disarmed, but I have enough support magic to cover any unfortunate accidents. You can change character classes at any time at the Guild, but you shouldn’t change all characters at once since their levels reset once they start as a new class.



Aside from going into the dungeons just because they’re there and you want those sweet trophies for mapping as much of it as possible, you head there to complete quests. Most of the quests you can take in the dungeon involve gathering items dropped by monsters you’ll face. Sounds simple and ordinary, but the drop rates in Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls are atrocious. I get that Acquire wanted to encourage level grinding, but it took me three days to get the five Grim Circlets from undead creatures to complete a level 3 task. Not to mention the game says said circlets can only be found on undead goblins in the Dungeon of Trials. It’s wrong. Its much easier to farm the undead creatures in B3F of Shiin Dungeon for them. It took me two days to get the five dirty daggers from kobolds for the first task, and I shudder to think how long it will take to get 10 reagants from Grave Mists. It’s been two days and I’m at five now.


Also, Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls has permadeath, but conveniently forgets to mention that anywhere. This is how I lost the first Grim Circlet I collected, as I accidentally equipped it on the stock Samurai character Ayane while exploring B3F of Shiin for the first time, not realizing it was cursed and would gradually kill her. Of course, that was a comedy of errors as I didn’t realize my mage and bishop both knew Emergency Exit and, by the time I discovered that tidbit, escaped and got to the Temple to revive her, she was turned to ash and then completely gone. And, since I didn’t know about the permadeath thing, I didn’t bother to remove her equipment or take her items before she died. I’ve since discovered that after level 10, characters are much more likely to turn to ash after the first resuscitation attempt. Whether or not they can be saved after that depends on how quick you get them to the Temple.


There’s another noticeable quirk you’ll notice early on. When you’re playing Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, you may as well pretend your analog sticks aren’t there. They are useless in the game. You have to use the D-pad to move and make selections. I get that it’s probably more nostalgic that way, but the option to use either would have been nice. I guess the left analog stick isn’t totally useless, as you can make it change whether you see your party portraits at all time or not when dungeon crawling by pressing it. The in-game instruction manual also says you’re supposed to be able to trigger some kind of auto battle by pressing the left analog stick and the X button at the same time, but I never figured out how to get it to work.


Though it does have some minor quirks, I can honestly say Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is pretty awesome. It’s difficult, but not so punishing that you’ll feel the urge to throw your controller at something. It’s also got just enough content to keep you busy for at least 30 hours, and that’s if you decide you only want to play one storyline. If you feel like mastering the game and completing each of the eight character’s quests, you’ll probably be set for a couple months.


Food for Thought:

  • The character portraits blink at you. Creepy? Just a little.
  • There’s some Japanese voice acting, though it’s mainly reserved for gasps of shock/pain/anger.
  • Ramming the party into walls so you can hear those gasps of pain and see the character portraits react can be amusing.
  • Always carry a map and try to have one Bishop character. You’ll have an instant magic powerhouse on your side and save appraisal fees.
  • I’d recommend saving your characters’ gold for tithing, to level up new characters. Even though the drop rate is horrible, it’s easier and cheaper to just get new equipment from battling monsters. Plus, the Inn is so expensive that it’s easier to just have a priest or bishop in the party to do your healing, then rest in the stable for 0 gold to recover MP.
  • Occasionally, you’ll come across monsters in the dungeon that won’t attack immediately. Your actions when this happens can determine a character’s alignment. Constantly attacking without provocation will eventually make your characters evil, while continually choosing to just leave will make them good.

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  • Ereek

    I played it and was happy with it!

    My biggest complaint was that it was remarkably easy except for a few random difficulty spikes (5F Shiin, 9-10F Shiin) when everything else was relatively easy. Also, a ridiculous amount of grinding to find the items for certain quests (yes, yes, they’re optional but still, as someone who enjoys grinding, there’s a horrible amount).

    The DLC Trials floors add a better dungeon layout.  The layout is more similar (and therefore obnoxious) to the original Wizardry games.

    •  YES. Someone who feels my pain about Shiin B5F! I was going through B4F with no trouble, not needing to heal for battles (I think my highest level character was probably around 14/15, the lowest probably at 12). Decide to venture to B5F, run into a party of what looked like cute little fairies and two lolita style girls and BAM! Two of my front line characters were down in one round.

      • yeesh indeed Shiin B5F was some scary stuff. it was weird cuz, once we got to B6F, everything started dying mad easy compared to 5. weird eh? i’m just glad this game is easier than Sekaiju No MeiQ(Etrian Odyssey). No FOE to terrify me, giving me real life nightmares.

        • Ereek

          6F is one of the easiest levels in the game, no joke.  I’m not sure what happened.

        •  YES! When I reached B6F, it was like what happened?

          I know it’s crazy but… I kind of like the FOEs. It makes you really think before you act. Plus, that IOSYS song and video was awesome. Saitama saitama FOE!

          •  “we forgot the warp wire! FOE!” yeah those things really make you worry about each move which is refreshing. thanks to those things though, being someone who is easily scared, i feel like the Etrian Odyssey games are most terrifying game experiences out there. i’m still trying to beat the second game after all this time. FOEs are some crazy psychological pressure. those dudes make me sweat weird otaku sweat.

  • I have the demo downloaded and I’m ready to start playing tonight.  As someone who’s played some of the oooold Wizardry games (and one on Game Boy but I wasn’t too fond of it) and more recently, Etrian Odyssey, am I in for a good time?

    • Exkaiser

      You should be! Have you played The Dark Spire at all? That was also pretty good.

      •  Not yet, though I keep meaning to pick it up.  I hear the localization is really good, and the art style/music really appeal to me.

    •  You are in for a good time and will probably lose at least a week of your life without even realizing it. (It’ll be a good week though! Or two! Maybe three!)

  • Jirin

    I played the demo and couldn’t stand it, but all reports say the real game is much better than the demo, so I have a few questions:

    1)  I like games that are sadistic, but there are two types of sadistic.  There’s ‘This is incredibly hard but I know I can get through with a good enough strategy’, and there’s ‘This battle is statistically impossible if I don’t grind some more’.  Which one is this?

    2)  The inability to attack specific enemies and the ability only to attack the front row kind of irk me, because it seems like that dictates your strategy in any given fight.  In the demo, I was getting through battles pretty much by just pressing the X button over and over.  Is there more room for strategic variety in the real game?

    3)  How does the dungeon design compare to, say, Shin Megami Tensei:  Nocturne?  Both in terms of cleverness and general meanness.

    • I didn’t try the demo, but I think it would be a good indication since you just buy the unlock key when you go for the full game.

      1) I’d say it’s a ~*little*~ more of the latter than the former. Once you get to the 3rd level of the dungeons, it really tends to be the latter more. I couldn’t do B5F of Shiin at with my party members at lvl 14.

      2) There is more strategy involved once you get past the B1F levels of both Shiin and Trials. I want to say around B3F/B4F is when elemental weaknesses start playing in. You are limited to which lines can attack and there is a lot of X-mashing once you’re in a battle and find a strategy that works.

      3) I’ve never played Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, but I looked at some screenshots and it doesn’t look similar at all. The dungeon crawling part is more similar to Etrian Odyssey and the first Persona game.

      • Tatsuya1221

        If your referring to hayate’s, ninja’s and musashi’s, the trick is to use the bishop’s magic wall and the lord’s huge shield, if one of your lord’s has high hp (500+) they can easily survive a hayate’s main attack with huge shield, which halves all damage it blocks for a character, as well as blocks instant death from all physical attacks(at least it seems to).

        Magic wall blocks attacks by hp value it seems (similar to how much hp you gain when you level up, but per magic field), while this sucks for all party attacks, in the case of hayate’s and musashi’s(or any enemy that attacks with strong single target attacks), it will block at least 1 attack, no matter if it’s going to do 1 hp worth of damage or 1000, in the case of hayate, this means if you face a single hayate in a group, you will always block it’s most powerful attack if you keep a magic wall up, as it’s speed makes it automatically go first.

        Sorry if you know this already, but it definitely helps, and is pretty much required against some of the enemies at the bottom of shiin.

        Oh and you may want to make one of your lord’s a samurai eventually, samurai’s do the most physical damage in the game by far once you get some of the later katana’s.

  • HarryHodd

    I’ve been playing this the past few days and am completely addicted. I’d agree it’s pretty awesome.

    I’m building my characters up so I can come back to level one(b1f) and defeat the level 12 enemy that is behind a certain door.

    •  Yeah, I did that as well. I think my characters were between lvl 8 and 10 when I took down that monster, if that helps.

      • HarryHodd

        Oh thanks that gives me something to shoot for.

  • Julian Fondren

    Autobattle: down-analog + X.

    •  Thank you! :D I don’t have an HDTV so I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong!

      • AnimusVox

        You mean to tell me Siliconera doesn’t pay you lots of money so you can afford 10 HDTV’s? I was mislead.

        •  Oh, those 10 HDTVs are in all the rooms except the one with the PS3. And I’m too lazy to drag the PS3 into another room. ;D

  • Syltique

    This sounds pretty awesome.  Going to pick this up now.

  • Guest

    I’m just goning to say it: I like the artwork but I can’t stand the lack of animation and choppy framerate when navigating the dungeons. I can say this because this is a game made for HD consoles and more importantly, the Nintendo DS Wizardry games had smoother framerate and pretty much the same graphics believe it or not. I understand the aim for nostalgia factor but this is kinda ridiculous. Tales of the Last Promise has some amazing enemy animation (3D) and its kinda the same game (only you can see your character in 3rd person when moving around the field).
    Some older PS1/PSP era 1st person dungeon crawlers had better animation too.
    (Tengai Makyou IV The Apocolypse)

    • HarryHodd

      Not following you about choppy framerate. The movement mechanic of the game chops on it’s own. It’s not a result of framerate.

      • Guest

        The movement mechanic is choppy compared to both recent Wizardry DS titles

        • HarryHodd

          It stops for a brief second on each block, like on a map grid. I dont mind it at all as the game still moves fast and you know exactly where you are to make a turn or how many movements it takes to get to something.

          • Guest

            I’m just saying that it is an annoyance in comparison to a much weaker system (Nintendo DS) that has the same franchise, same developer, in where they’ve improved that same mechanic. It just doesn’t make sense to me that do it like that for the PS3. It’s going backwards in design and makes for a total lack of immersion.
            Hmm so another example would be Foresaken Land for PS2 distributed by Atlus. That was a great game that pushed the franchise forward (albeit it briefly).

  • ikiryou

    I’ll give this a try once I finish SMT: Strange Journey. I only have room in my life for one intensive dungeon crawler at a time.

  • Can i have a EU release please

  • Rollersnake

    I beat this, including the DLC, and I’m not sure whether I’d recommend it.  It’s good aside from the HORRIFICALLY BAD quest system and some frustrating balance issues toward the end (whether you kill the enemy in one turn or the enemy kills you in one turn comes down to their choice of attacks).

    Regarding the quest system, you are given almost no hints as to where the object of your quest might be, and some of the few you do get are misleading.  If you don’t use a guide, you have no alternative but to aimlessly backtrack through the whole game until you find the previously empty room that now has a plot trigger.  Multiple times.  The “old-school” nature of the game has nothing to do with this; the original Wizardry games did not have this problem.

    I recommend supporting XSeed and picking this up—I want more of the Japan-exclusive Wizardry games to be brought over.  My honest opinion of the game, though, is that by modern standards it isn’t even as good a game as most of the original series.  You’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom on SNES, which is still probably the best dungeon crawl RPG I’ve ever played.

  • PrinceHeir

    another awesome PSN title :P

    i wonder if they’re gonna make a new Ultima? :P

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