As an avid Wheel of Time nut, it’s safe to say that I was channelling delight when I found out that ye olde Wheel of Time game has launched on GoG (opens in new tab) in remastered form, courtesy of Nightdive Studio.
Originally released in 1999, the Wheel of Time is based upon Robert Jordan’s series of epic fantasy novels (opens in new tab). The game puts you in the role of Elayna Sedai, one of the fantasy world’s organisation of powerful Sorceresses. Elanya herself isn’t powerful at all, but she is a master of wielding ter’angreal, magical artefacts that have wide-ranging effects. This comes in handy when someone breaks into the White Tower and attempts to release the Dark One (aka King-Size Sauron) from his otherworldly prison. When the assailant absconds, Elayna is tasked with tracking him across the lands of the Wheel of Time and finding out exactly what he’s up to.
This is all a convoluted excuse to squeeze The Wheel of Time’s massive, complicated fantasy world into a traditional linear FPS. Instead of guns, you collect ter’angreal, which let you unleash up to 100 different magical powers upon your foes. As you progress through the game you’ll visit some of the world’s most iconic locations, such as The White Tower and the accursed city of Shadar Logoth.
The press release for the remaster cites a quote from GameSpy (RIP), describing the Wheel of Time as “one of the most underrated games of all time”. Which is a slight exaggeration. On release, it was considered a decent but somewhat overambitious affair that probably wasn’t best suited to an FPS format, which is exactly how I would rate it today. The “shooting” feels basic even compared to contemporary games like Half-Life and Unreal, while the whole endeavour feels like a missed opportunity in the shadow of Baldur’s Gate, which released the same year. All that said, the wide array of ter’angreal are fun to play around with, while the levels are varied and enjoyable to explore. In short, it’s an obscure and slightly wonky fantasy shooter from the late nineties, making it exactly my bag.
Nightdive has done a typically solid job with the remaster, adding functionality for HD and 4K resolutions, widescreen support, ensuring the pre-rendered cutscenes 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 RRP of £6.99, which I think makes it worth a crack, especially if you’re into either retro shooters or extremely long epic fantasy stories.