The Wizardry 8 retrospective on Tales of the Rampant Coyote has now reached a fifth installment, this time covering Jay's fear of Leaf Pixies, the city of Trynton, the inconvenience of specialty shops, and more.
I have always been a proponent of having adventure-game style puzzles in RPGs. Maybe that's just because I'm old-school where the two genres were both far more vibrant and far more interconnected. Wizardry 8, like many of its predecessors, has this in spades.
There's got to be a balance, though. In graphic adventure games, there is usually not many obstacles to moving between areas to fiddle with objects or hunt for missed clues. In a 3D game, the "hunt the pixel" problem is increased by an order of magnitude due to the third dimension, and getting between areas can be pretty tedious. And treacherous. Particularly when the game scales up the difficulty of the encounters to match your average party level, as Wizardry 8 does.
This makes backtracking pretty time-consuming. Most RPGs, including this one, compensate for this by keeping the puzzles either pretty simple or optional. Or maybe they hoped to generate additional revenue from the strategy guide back in the 90's.
I personally prefer staying in-game for finding out how to solve puzzles, and it'd be cool if the game could offer redundant hints as to solutions or the next move. As Wizardry 8 did, back in Arnika, when both the priest and the aging HLL officer suggested your next course of action. This is hardly universal - after all, nobody in Trynton will even suggest how I should start mending the broken rope bridge. I worry it'll involve inventory items I don't have and don't have a clue where to look for them.
The difficult / dangerous / time-consuming slog from area to area is a reason why I don't enjoy the concept of specialty shops in RPGs - even though they sound cool on paper. My team is accumulating a lot of useless junk I'd like to sell, but the potion shop in town won't buy my crap to help finance a potion to restore a drained comrade. More realistic? Sure. But when the guy is about the only shop in Trynton, and the Rapax back in Arnika is possibly a half-hour or so of unproductive running around and fighting, the convenience factor outweighs the realism.