Wheel of Time Review
The wheel of time is one of the leading series of Western fantasy novels and is highly regarded around the world. While it took a long time to get a screen adaptation, for better or worse, it wasn’t until 9 years after the first book was published that we first got a screen adaptation. video game adaptation, named after the series itself. This DOS-era FPS title is set centuries before the events of the book, but does it do the series justice? Is it still a fun FPS game to play these days? There’s really only one way to find out.
As stated earlier, The wheel of time is an FPS title, but not in the style of Loss or earthquake. It’s more of a first-person shooter where you control a spellcaster and must combine your use of magic artifacts to defend yourself and attack your enemies, as well as special abilities like breathing underwater , heal damage, or become invisible for a short period of time. These abilities are all limited, based on finding items in the universe that give you charges for each spell. The only exception to this is your air attack, which is your primary defense throughout the game.
The airflow is quite weak. Even when you’re primarily dealing with melee enemies early in the game, it can be difficult to take them down easily. The air attack has a very limited range and doesn’t do much damage, due to the low range you are likely to run into your enemies and take damage just to get close enough to take them on. It’s not terrible, and after a bit of practice you can avoid damage most of the time, but it still feels a little limited at times.
On the plus side, you pick up a lot of other attacks, so there’s a decent amount of variety. The basic spells you’ll find in abundance include an attack that fires a dart and a slightly more powerful fireball attack. Spike attack is much more usable and it is actually possible to develop a certain level of rhythm by moving from level to level. It’s just a shame that your ammo limit for the attack is quite limited for the number of shots most enemies take.
That doesn’t mean that The wheel of time is too hard or whatever. Although the elements are limited, each level is also built around the idea that you will explore them in depth. This is especially true a bit in the game when you have to solve puzzles and work around obstacles to progress. At this point, you’re stumbling across enough shields and healing spells to keep you going even at higher difficulty levels. That said, this is still an older game, so be sure to hit fast save every two seconds so you don’t have to replay a tough part of the game with no health or ammo.
Speaking of older game, there are definitely some stability issues with The wheel of time this can make it boring enough to continue. Various issues occur on modern PCs depending on the resolution and settings of your video device. Even when entering the game, tabbing can cause major issues and even crashes. Probably the least offensive of these issues is the size of the user interface with higher resolutions.
Technically, you can go up to 1080p on software rendering, and the actual levels look great that way. Everything is very clear and this makes it easier to solve puzzles, not to mention the possibility of seeing enemies otherwise hidden in dark passages. The problem is that the UI is so small at this point that you might not even be able to play the game. It would have been nice to see some slight changes to the game for this version of GOG to fix the issues with user interface, but it’s not horrible to play in slightly lower resolutions. It’s an older title after all.
The game also mixes some tower defense type elements into the gameplay to keep it fresh. At a certain point in the story, you will suddenly have to defend a location against enemies. The game goes into a sort of setup mode where you can move other units around the location, as well as use magic artifacts to set traps for your enemies. These sections are fairly frequent and provide a nice break from running around fantasy locations looking for magical artifacts and puzzles to solve.
The only real gripe about these sections is that you’re sometimes called upon to defend characters, and at that point the missions can spiral into a boring frenzy. Some of the characters you’re trying to defend don’t have strong self-preservation instincts, and while you also have other characters to help you defend them, enemies have a horrible tendency to ignore tough enemies. Especially those weird smoke worms floating around the place trying to sap your health.
In terms of graphics, there is not much to say about the house. It’s all cohesive, but it’s also 3D graphics from the days when we were still building our 3D games out of kraft paper and wishes. For the most part, this works when the game depicts humanoid, but otherwise monstrous enemies. When called upon to render a human? Well, let’s say the game does its best with what it has. It’s even better during cutscenes when the game gets even funnier than the original tekken opening cinematic.
It’s probably the janky arrival of cutscenes that makes the storyline of The wheel of time collapses a bit. Not only does it tell a non-canon section of the books story, but it also doesn’t explain things very well for non-fans. Worse still, despite these two issues, the cutscenes sometimes seem to drag on for a bit, and with the stability issues, you’re dreading pressing Esc to skip a cutscene in case the game crashes again.
Globally, The wheel of time does very well in credit as a game, despite some flaws due to its age. Of course, it’s not an FPS with a top-notch shooter, but it’s interesting to have a shooter with a variety of weapons apart from “gun” and “fast-firing gun” or “big gun that explodes when you pull the trigger”. That aside, the story isn’t hugely interesting, and the extraneous issues caused by the age of the game make it hard to recommend to anyone outside of die-hard fans of the novels, or people who enjoy retro games of this period. Even then, you’ll need to be a very specific niche of classic FPS fan to really get started.
TechRaptor Covered The wheel of time on PC via GOG with the code provided by GOG.COM