43 years later, an early pioneer of the RPG genre that inspired Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest gets a remake using the original source code

The remake of Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, one of the first and most influential RPGs ever made, just launched on Steam after a few months in Early Access and 43 years after the original.

A quick history lesson: Released way back in 1981, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is ostensibly the first-ever team-based RPG, going on to directly inspire some of the best RPGs ever made like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. It’s since received numerous sequels and ports, but never a full-fat remake until now.

I say “full fat,” but it’s worth delineating between this and something like, say, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which of course is a dramatically different game from the original at a foundational level. Here, we have a remake literally “built directly on top of the original 1981 game’s code,” just with modernized visuals, sound, and UI, as well as touched-up party management, navigation, spellcasting, and combat systems. In its “commitment to accuracy,” developer and publisher Digital Eclipse even built in the option to switch to the original Apple II interface.

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord starts you off by letting you assemble your party from an assortment of five races, three alignments, and four starter classes. From there, you’re off to your first dungeon in search of Werdna, an evil wizard in possession of a magical amulet whose rightful owner is the Mad Overlord Trebor.

“If you’re just discovering the legendary Wizardry franchise, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is the perfect jumping-in point for new players,” reads the Steam description. “Series veterans will love the gorgeous new graphics and sound, and the streamlined interface.”

The original game has a reputation for being brutal and unforgiving, and while Digital Eclipse says the “well-known difficulty of the enemies has not been altered,” the remake does have plenty of quality-of-life improvements that should make it a good deal more approachable.

It’s never a bad time to peruse our list of the best PC games to play right now.

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