Wizardry V: Lock and Key

Progress continues apace, although the sheer amount of dungeon to explore means I’m still on level 2. I’m getting a strong sense that each level is divided into multiple distinct areas, in irregular shapes, where each area has either one or two major puzzle in it. Wiz4 was kind of like this too, but there the areas were entire levels, and here they’re just not-quite-isolated sections of grid that fit together in the overall map like jigsaw pieces. It’s tempting to declare that the grid doesn’t matter, that all we really need to do is identify the areas and how they relate to each other, but the grid is still important for identifying empty space where undiscovered rooms can be found.

A lot of the puzzles are lock-and-key in nature, but slightly disguised: a lock in the form of a machine with a token slot and a key in the form of a bag of tokens for it, or a door held shut with chains that you need a hacksaw to open. That one counts as a case of Caesar’s Ladder, I suppose: you have to find a hacksaw somewhere in the dungeon simply because the world outside the dungeon is unreasonably small and shallow. That’s something that hasn’t changed.

At one point, there’s a wizard who blocks your way and demands alcohol. This is a twist on the lock-and-key puzzle you only get in RPGs: ones where if you don’t have the key, you can beat up the lock instead. I had what he wanted, but unlike most keys, giving it to him uses it up, forcing you to fetch it afresh from a different area (guarded by a hurkle beast) if you ever want to go that way again. So on my third pass, with considerable trepidation, I tried fighting him. This is the sort of thing that some previous titles would punish with hard and sudden death, but we’ve got a new designer on board, and it wasn’t too bad. My party lost more health than I liked, though. I’m not trying it again any time soon.

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