Wizardry III: Difficulty

Wizardry III is a difficult game — easily the most difficult Wizardry I’ve played, and I’ve played Wizardry IV, the one that has a reputation for extreme difficulty. But that’s a whole different thing. Wizardry IV‘s difficulty is mainly in its puzzles, some of which require specialized knowledge, like the Kabbalah or Monty Python references. And while that sort of riddlery might stop someone cold, I found the game had been written from the same sort of geek culture that I myself was immersed in.

I’ve encountered this mismatch of difficulty assessment elsewhere. Spellbreaker is supposed to be Infocom’s hardest adventure, but I’ve never understood why — all it really takes is an “I wonder what happens if I do this?” mindset and some slight knowledge of classic math puzzles. The coin-op game Sinistar has a reputation for being unusually hard, but I always could last about as long in it as in other games of its type — although in this case I suspect it more signifies that I’m not very good at space shooters in general, so it’s not so much “For me, Sinistar is as easy as these other games” as “For me, these other games are as hard as Sinistar“.

Anyway, the thing that makes Wizardry III particularly difficult isn’t the puzzles, but that it demands patience. Wizardry I let you power-level at the Murphy’s Ghost room, and Wizardry II let you import your overpowered characters from Wizardry I, but if there’s any option like that in Wizardry III, I haven’t found it. You have to level up the slow and risky way. Sure, you get some ability to trade that off, choosing where to grind to make it less slow but more risky, or vice versa. But that means that when things get too slow for your liking, there’s a temptation to take on more risk than you can handle.

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