Just now, I've completed Wizardry 8 to complete the Dark Savant Trilogy. All told, this trilogy took me just over a year in time to complete:
Wizardry 6: 111 hours in 72 days (8/30/19 to 11/10/19)
Wizardry 7: 201 hours in 131 days (11/12/19 to 3/22/20)
Wizardry 8: 148 hours in 133 days (4/26/20 to 9/6/20)
This was easily the most epic, satisfying RPG experience I've ever had, and I've played almost every major RPG out there. The endgame of Wizardry 8 alone was the most satisfying endgame I've had the pleasure to enjoy. There are three possible endings, depending on your choice:
1) you can choose to join the Dark Savant to be evil Cosmic Lords along with him
2) you can choose to write the Dark Savant out of existence by changing the Book of Destiny
3) you can choose to tear out the page in the Book of Destiny that leads the good Phoonzang along the path to becoming the evil Dark Savant
I chose 2, but went back to a save and played through ending 3 as well.
Wizardry 8 is a turn-based RPG with a combination of High Fantasy and Sci Fi elements. There is even a Modern Weapons skill for some weapons like laser guns and rocket launchers. They are not overly powerful and balance well in the game. In fact, the High Fantasy weapons are better overall.
The major highlights of Wizardry 8 are the story, character development, and turn-based combat system. There are so many types of spells and many of them provide new, unique ways of buffing, debuffing, flat out attacking, or healing. This is a major part of the strategy that makes combat so satisfying. For example, if you have a Monk or Psionicist, you have access to Eye for an Eye. This spell, if cast before your enemy can cast the same, will reflect all of their magical attacks back at them. Bards use musical instruments that cast spells. As you progress through the game, you find more powerful instruments that cast high level spells, such as Freeze All or Pandemonium, which can incapacitate multiple groups of enemies, giving you a fighting chance when hoards of 20+ monsters attack your party of 6. And speaking of combat, one of my few complaints about this game is the sheer amount of it. The best way I found to mitigate this is by playing the game on Easy. Unfortunately, this also makes some of the battles less challenging then they'd otherwise be. But I'm okay with that.
There's a lot of non-standard options in races and professions. So in addition to Humans, Elves and Dwarves, there are dog-like (Rawulf), cat-like (Fel-purr) and Wookie-like (Mook) races. And in addition to standard professions like Fighters, Mages and Priests, there are hybrids like Lord (fighter+priest), Valkyrie (fighter+priest, female only with polearm skill), Ninja (martial arts fighter with alchemy), Samurai (fighter/mage), Monk (fighter/psionics), Bard (musical skill/thievery), and Gadeteer (builds weapons and magical items out of found gadgets). More here: http://www.jeffludwig.com/wizardry8/races.php here: http://www.jeffludwig.com/wizardry8/professions.php here: http://www.jeffludwig.com/wizardry8/instrumentlist.php and here: http://www.jeffludwig.com/wizardry8/gadgetlist.php
The graphics are somewhere between Half-Life 1 and Unreal 1, with a very Unreal-like art style. Overall, I found them beautiful. Yeah, lowish poly counts, but they did well with what they had.
The voice acting was top notch, very professional and copious.
The music was brilliant, moody and catchy. There could've been more variety, but again, I think they did well with what they had. For example, there are different variations on combat music depending on how difficult the monsters are. If they are higher level then your party, there's a more forboding tone and a sense of danger. If they are lower level, it sounds more upbeat and adventury.
There's tons of weapons and armor to choose from, both in shops and as loot. And lots of options for training. Want to focus on dual-wielding maces? Go for it, that's one less weapon skill you have to devote level-up points to. And skills grow by themselves with use, so you could stand in fire, take damage, then cast heal to improve your spell casting abilities. If you have a character with alchemy, you can practice mixing low and medium heal potions into heavy heal. This will improve your alchemy skill AND you can sell the heavy heal potions for a steep profit. This was one way I made enough money early on to afford better weapons and armor for my party.
There's a large variety of weapons and armor that are specific to certain races or professions, so it's neat to find these to help your players stand out. Some weapons are short range (maces, daggers, swords, axes), while some are extended range (lances, pikes, some flails, some staffs, bows, slings and thrown weapons). By the end, you should find some very high-level magical weapons that fit each of your party members to a tee. My Elven Bard had the Elven Bow, the most powerful bow in the game that only elves of certain professions can use. She acquired this bow in Wizardry 6 and kept it through the party transfers to Wizardry 7 and 8. This made this particular weapon more special and meaningful to me.
Skill advancement is another big strategy in the game. At each level up, you get 6 points to distribute amongst your attributes and 9 points to distribute among your skills. Spell casters typically get to choose one spell per level-up, so wisdom here is crucial. Sometimes spellbooks could be found or bought, so you could potentially buy spellbooks, hold onto them til you can learn them, which leaves you free to pick other spells during level ups. Diversification is also important. Having multiple spell casters lets you learn spells that complement one another without duplicating effects.
And lastly, I loved the RPC (Recruitable Player Characters) system. You can have a party of up to 6 players, and two slots are available for RPCs. There's a total of 12 potential RPCs in the game. When you meet them, you can ask them to join you. They are different races and professions, with unique voice actors and personalities. Some are annoying, some are charming. And the cool part is part of their personality is where they will refuse to go. When you enter a new map, they may say "Nope, won't go there. I had a bad experience there as a child. If you continue going, I'm going to leave you guys, but I'll go back to where we first met so if you want me to rejoin you, you know where to find me." You can develop RPCs like your own characters, level up points, improving skills with use, etc. They WILL use up their portion of XP though. So if your party of 6 kills a 600 XP monster, they each get 100 XP. If you have two RPCs, then each player (including RPCs) will get 600/8=75 XP.
I could go on and on, but you get why I loved this game and trilogy so much. If you have the time and the patience, it is one of the best RPG experiences you can go through. RPG fans should not pass this game up. If you don't want to play the trilogy, just play Wizardry 8.