Wishlair - PC Review

by developer and publisher Chronogears—PC Review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Wishlair is an RPG adventure game that brings players back to the early days of video games. We’re talking about an RPG that is 2D, top-down and made with exclusively ASCII characters. It is filled with nostalgia and charm as players traverse the Wishlair through more than a hundred different levels in search of 1000 shards. Once they obtain these shards, players will be able to wish their way out of the accursed depths.


Wishlair is a fantastic throwback to a simpler time in video games where developers created entire worlds with ASCII characters and 8-bit music that make us remember the beginning days.

We begin our journey of Wishlair in search of our father who has summoned us. In order to find him, and the entrance to the place, we have to traverse the Old Kingdom and the Underrealm that holds useful items which will assist us in this quest. At first, the journey is tough since there are a number of obstacles and creatures that will prevent progression. And once players find the map, the game becomes a bit easier to navigate. I had quite a fun time going back and forth through the areas in search of the next item or shards I may have missed. Once I started to recognize which characters were likely harmful and which were not, going through some of the sections became easier.

Quite early on I discovered that there are large chasms that can’t be crossed, ice that directs your movement based on where you step on it, and creatures that will fling magic circular spells that do damage. Some of those creatures are ghosts that can walk through walls. If they get to you, they will do damage. And if for some reason you die, your character is placed back at the entrance point of the level which allows you to get those items again - hopefully without being killed.

For an old-style ASCII game from the DOS days, Wishlair was a pleasant surprise. Not only does the game stick to classic gaming principles, but it also provides a nice challenge to the player. There is no restriction on lives, save-scumming, nor hand-holding in Wishlair. It is focused on perception, decent reflexes, and deduction of concepts. I, for one, love a good call back to the simpler gaming days once in a while, and Wishlair definitely gives it to me.

Graphics and Audio

Let’s talk about the ASCII graphics in Wishlair. The game's visual presentation, in my opinion, was a deliberate choice by Jean-Francois Bilodeau. Today’s game development is advanced compared to the video games offered in the ’70s. For those unfamiliar, during the ’70s people were first exposed to Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings. These two franchises inspired the RPG genre (Check out this video for more information about the history of RPGs). And the video games offered around that time were games like the RPG Moria, the arcade game Pong, and the text-based adventure game Zork. Each of these titles was created with ASCII graphics and text boxes that described situations or items. Wishlair relies on these two elements to bring us back to the days of old.

Then there is the audio which I both love and hate at the same time. I love it because it adds to the classic video game feel which triggers our nostalgia factor. Players can choose to enable the footsteps audio or not. They can also choose to have the music playing, but that is where my issue lies.

I would love to listen to the music in this game more than I did. See, I discovered quickly that the volume of the audio cannot be adjusted at all. Even turning down my computer volume didn’t help because it would overtake anything I had running in the background. Furthermore, a couple of minor patches went live which actually screwed up the music! On the main menu, music would automatically play. (Other video games also have full volume on load up, so this isn't a unique problem.) If a player clicks the checkbox to turn off the music and back on (I misclicked), the music would superimpose itself. This is very unpleasant and I would not recommend doing this. Basically, having volume sliders would be a great addition so that players can listen to the audio. Fixing this superimposed music problem would be fantastic.

Final Thoughts

Wishlair is a mindless fun adventure that doesn’t overcomplicate gameplay. It is simple in that players have a set objective and only arrow keys to move. There is no worrying about keybinds or specific classes. There’s no worrying about graphics card compatibility. There is only the player and the dungeon which is filled with objects and creatures. Thus, Wishlair is a wonderful nostalgic RPG game that I highly recommend to gamers and I give it a solid 9 out of 10.

Score: 9 / 10



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