As an avid Wheel of Time freak, it’s safe to say I was channeling delight when I discovered that the old Wheel of Time game released on GoG (opens in new tab) in remastered form, courtesy of Nightdive Studio.
Originally released in 1999, The Wheel of Time is based on the book by Robert Jordan. epic fantasy novel series (opens in new tab). The game puts you in the role of Elayna Sedai, one of the organizations of powerful sorceresses in the fantasy world. Elanya herself is anything but powerful, but she is a master at wielding ter’angreal, magical artifacts that have far-reaching effects. This is useful when someone breaks into the White Tower and tries to free the Dark One (aka Sauron King-Size) from its supernatural prison. When the attacker flees, Elayna is tasked with tracking him through the lands of the Wheel of Time and finding out exactly what he’s been up to.
All of this is a convoluted excuse to squeeze The Wheel of Time’s massive, convoluted fantasy world into a traditional linear FPS. Instead of weapons, you collect ter’angreal, which lets you unleash up to 100 different magical powers on your enemies. As you progress through the game, you will visit some of the most iconic locations in the world, such as the White Tower and the cursed city of Shadar Logoth.
The press release for the remaster cites a quote from GameSpy (RIP), describing Wheel of Time as “one of the most underrated games of all time”. Which is a slight exaggeration. At launch it was considered a decent but somewhat ambitious case that was probably no longer suitable for an FPS format, which is exactly how I would classify it today. The “shooting” feels basic even compared to contemporary games like Half-Life and Unreal, while the entire venture feels like a missed opportunity in the shadow of Baldur’s Gate, released the same year. Having said all that, ter’angreal’s wide variety is fun to play with, while the levels are varied and enjoyable to explore. All in all, it’s a dark and somewhat shaky fantasy shooter from the late nineties, making it exactly my bag.
Nightdive did a typically solid job with the remaster, adding functionality for HD and 4K resolutions, widescreen support, ensuring pre-rendered scenes run without crashing the game. It’s as smooth and painless as booting up any modern title. GoG is also currently offering 10% off the MSRP of £6.99, which I think is well worth it, especially if you like retro shooters or extremely long epic fantasy stories.