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Why Wizardry 8’s Personality system is a stroke of genius

For a game that's nearly two decades old at this point, there's a great deal that Wizardry 8 does remarkably well that still makes it stand out even today. An extensive and complex character system with a multitude of classes stats and skills to play around with and specialize your characters. Massive dungeons filled with enemies and puzzles and traps and all manner of interesting things (the beginning area, the Monastery, is far better than any opening level in a video game deserves to be).

. A complex and daunting combat systems that offers so many strategies for the player to choose from and hundreds of different encounters to test them on. But above all else, the one aspect of this game that sticks out in my mind and brings back fond memories of this game above all else is the personality system.

At first appearance, it appears to be nothing more than just another part of character creation; on the same page where you select your character's portrait and type out their name (and nickname!), you select one of nine different personalities for your character (Aggressive, Intellectual, Burly, Chaotic, Cunning, Eccentric, Kindly, Laidback, Loner), and one of two voices for each personality type. Throughout the game, depending on which personalities you selected for them, your party members will have different lines for all manner of situations and events; getting into combat, being attacked, seeing enemies or NPCs, etc. Seemingly pretty simple.

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But it isn't. Not for two important reasons.

  1. The personalities have a tremendous amount of variation, with all manner of different voices and accents to give your characters tremendous scope on, well, their personalities (which is helped a lot by the fact that all the voice actors for the various personalities are hammy as all get out). Would you like to play a bard with the voice of a southern belle? That's possible. Would you like to play a wizard who speaks like the Incredible Hulk and makes repeated allusions to smashing things? That's also possible. How about a fighter who speaks in the 3rd person and narrates everything that happens to him like he's the main character of some unseen book? Very much possible.

  2. The personalities have a plethora of quotes for all manner of situations and contexts, and are talkative far beyond what you might expect. Your characters will comment on the size of enemy encounters, with some personalities insisting that they can win and others fearing the worst, and when combat is won they'll cry out in victory. They'll react to other party members dying, some with sadness and horror and others with annoyance or disdain. They're nervously note that they sense danger nearby. They'll apologize when they miscast a healing spell or accidentally redirect an attack spell on the party, and the other characters will insult them when they get damaged by that very same spell. One character will say that they're blind or diseased or cursed, and a second one will ring in that they've been affected too. They'll react in alarm when they realize that a treasure chest is armed with a trap (and it almost always is). They'll complain when they get tired. They'll comment upon interacting with interesting NPCs and learning of important plot developments, and at game end when they ascend as gods (I would put down spoilers, but it's a 20 year old game and literally mentioned in the official plot synopsis) each and every one of them will have some final words about their thoughts on the manner. All of this does a tremendous job of making party members feel remarkably alive, and your party like a genuine group of people out on an exciting and perilous quest.

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In conclusion, Wizardry 8's personality system is utterly damn brilliant, and it's a fucking shame that only a handful of games have ever come close to what this system had to offer.


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