[PS5] Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord Review

by EdEN, Owner

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord from Digital Eclipse brings us a full 3D remaster of the RPG classic now on PS5. Learn more in our Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord review!


Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord from Digital Eclipse brings us a full 3D remaster of the RPG classic now on PlayStation 5. Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord was originally released way back in 1981 on the Apple II personal computer. It was the first game to recreate pen & paper Dungeons and Dragons RPG-type gameplay for home computers. It’s now 2024, and we’re getting a revamped take on a beloved classic that inspired so many games that launched long-running franchises that we get to enjoy to this day. We’re now getting a game that is just as challenging as the original version but with some quality-of-life improvements.

You can choose to play with the Original or Console floor layouts, which will change how you tackle floors 6, 7, and 8, with the Console option being more challenging. As you start to play, you’ll do so with these improvements activated by default under the Modern Options tab. These include having starting Attribute Points established by a random roll or starting with set points determined by your character’s lineage; making it so that when a character levels up, each attribute has a random chance to increase or receiving 1-3 points when leveling up to distribute as you see fit; establishing how aging works in the game; setting how the inn works, between having the original inn with rooms that vary in costs and HP recovery or with the expanded option by which the inn has more things for you to do, which would usually be reserved for a camp.

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On top of all that, there will also be the option for the temple design to be the original one or the expanded version, with rebalanced temple costs so that level 1 characters can be resurrected for free, as well as having additional services to offer. Thanks to the new options, you can recruit pre-made characters from the tavern of various levels based on the highest level you’ve achieved. You will also have an ambient map that shows your party’s immediate perceived surroundings, but it can be affected by teleports or spinners. This is why you should cast DUMAPIC to get a full graphical map showing what you need. There are also conversation hints that will make your characters comment on the current circumstances to help and guide you along the way. In the original, bad things could happen if your party is wiped out, such as losing their items or gold or having a character be eaten, thus making it unrecoverable! This remake turns this off by default.

Another element that will be disabled is having enemies and characters be able to cast spells during surprise rounds. Some of the features that will be enabled are the hide action and ambush action for thieves and ninjas to use during combat, respectively, even if they are located in the back row. The enemy identification system will be set by default to have each of your characters roll to identify the enemy when encountered. This information can be kept with the default inspect enemy setting so that you can learn more by selecting inspect enemy during combat. The other option would be roll per combat, so you’d need to roll every time you meet a creature again and again. An important one is action redirection. When enabled, if an attack or spell is used against an enemy and said enemy is no more when that action is to take place, then it will be redirected to another group or enemy. The last one is for running away in turn order. As its name suggests, it will make characters attempt to run in turn order, preventing lost actions for the round for all characters if unsuccessful. You can also go into the Custom tab and mix and match these features as needed to tailor your experience.

There’s plenty for you to do in this game, and the first step of your journey will be to create the party that you’ll be using to explore the dungeon. When you start your adventure, the game will give you a little nudge in the right direction. A group of level 2 adventurers will be ready to go out on a mission into the maze. If you’re new to dungeon crawlers, using this standard party could be a good option for you to learn the basics and get a feel for how the game works. Once you get some experience under your belt, it would be a good idea to create a new party balanced based on your gameplay style.

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You’ll be creating enough characters for a party of six adventurers. Three of them will be placed in the front row, while three will take their spot in the back row. The ones in the front row will deal more damage and will be able to attack most enemies, but they will also be in danger at all times, thus acting as what you would call tanks. The adventurers in the back row will need to have either weapons that allow them to attack from a distance or be proficient in spellcasting so that they can attack enemies from a safe distance, heal wounded companions, or cast spells that can provide buffs for allies or deal a negative status effect on enemies.

There are six different Lineages for you to choose when creating a character: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, and Halfling. Humans are a balanced, all-around option since they don’t excel at anything but have no major weaknesses. An Elf is an intelligent and pious individual who excels at intellectual pursuits but is not very robust. Dwarves are sturdy and strong and can always put up a good fight, thanks to the many weapons and armor they can use. Gnomes are agile and pious, making them an excellent option if you want to add a Priest to your party. A Halfling is a nimble and extremely lucky fella. If you spec a Halfling just right, it will excel as a Thief.

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Each of the different classes that you will work on selecting for your party members will require that this or that adventurer meets the minimum stat values required for said class. For example, a Fighter will require an adventurer to have at least eleven points of Strength. If you want to add a Priest, it will need to have at least eleven points of Piety. Those are not that hard to spec. But if you want a Samurai in your ranks, then you’re going to need a character with fifteen points of Strength, eleven points of Intelligence, ten points of Piety, fourteen points of Vitality, and ten points of Agility.

As for classes, Fighters are always a good option for your party since they can take a beating while also dishing out some decent damage to enemies. Mages are good at attacking from a distance with their spells, so having a couple of them as you start will be good for taking on groups of enemies – especially if they can’t target the back row! A Priest will be able to heal your party members’ wounds and cast buffs to aid them. Thieves are sneaky ones who are fast and agile and can be used to try and disarm traps that would otherwise wreak havoc on your party.

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If you want to 100% the game, you’ll need to work on completing the Beastiary, an in-game guide to all of the deadly creatures you’ll run into during your time in the maze. As your party meets new enemies, they will be added to the Bestiary. By using Inspection, you can learn more about the monsters, including valuable lore, as well as information on the different strengths and weaknesses that you need to consider in combat. And speaking of going for 100% in Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, it’s time to talk about the trophies!

The game has a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy for you to work on… and it’s not going to be a short trophy run! The list has 10 Bronze trophies, 13 Silver trophies, and 5 Gold trophies. The objectives to complete for his Platinum trophy include creating a character, creating or recruiting a character of every class, boosing all stats of a character to 18, reaching levels 5, 10, and 15 with a character, entering the maze for the first time, raising a character from the dead, disarming all trap types, staying 52 times at the inn, recruiting 13 characters, defeating 100 enemies with a single character, recovering 500 HP by casting spells or putting a whole group of enemies to sleep.

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Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord brings us a full 3D remaster of the RPG classic. It’s been a while since the original version of this game launched on the Apple II way back in 1981. We’re now getting a revamped take on it with new graphics and sounds, as well as some quality-of-life improvements that bring it closer to a 21st-century release while respecting what the original did. Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is out tomorrow on PlayStation 5 with a $39.99 price tag.

This Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Digital Eclipse.

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