The forth edition of the Etrian Odyssey series, makes its debut on Nintendo 3DS. What can you expect from Legends of the Titan?
Anyone who has played an Etrian Odyssey game before will know exactly what to expect from this latest version. The turn-based combat, dungeon crawling RPG is as notoriously difficult as its predecessors. However the transition to 3DS has included a couple of changes designed to entice a new audience.
A casual mode as been added which supposedly should help ease new players into the series. In fairness to Atlus, they have managed to do this. The explanations early on are well crafted and do a fine job of making sure the player is informed as much as they need to be. What impressed most about the casual mode, was that it assumed a bit of player intelligence and doesn’t overly hold your hand. The game prepares you for what is to come and it is up to you how much help you really need.
It does cover everything from how to create a party, but without taking you through long boring screens of endless text, to how to use and draw your own maps. Veterans of the series aren’t forgotten either, as the casual mode is purely optional, meaning they can enjoy the games difficulty as originally intended.
Generally we at Gamestyle play our 3DS games with the 3D effect turned off and there is no exception in Etrian Odyssey IV, however we were impressed by the 3D visuals when we tried them. It added something to the gameplay experience rather than feeling like something tacked on for the hell of it, or poorly implemented. It added depth to the screen when navigating through the various mazes, which actually helped use the map too.
The gameplay does remain pretty much unchanged from the previous titles, which is nice as it it had a nice balance. The dungeon crawling and exploration is entertaining and any battles you take part in are challenging. With the ability to create a party from seven different classes, you can and should be prepared for any eventuality.
Being able to change the names of characters in your party is maybe a minor thing, but one that is incredibly useful. We found that remembering what class was ideal for what scenario could be a little tough, so renaming party members to something that was more relevant to us personally was ideal. Using names of members of your favourite sports team, film, tv show, band etc is a great way to jog your memory of who can do what.
Anyone who has played the Persona series will be at home with how the various world are laid out, as they combine larger labyrinths with floors that you will work through, taking on various enemy sets, leading to a harder boss at the end. That’s not to say that this aspect is exactly the same, just that it is one area that new players may feel comfortable with. There is a lot more depth to this part than there is in Persona, with interior levels contained within much larger over-worlds. It is very well structured and for sure there is plenty to take in.
There are some nice touches that will keep your interest and stops this being another by the book style JRPG. One that really stands out is the ability to use the touch screen to draw out your own maps as you move through the winding mazes. Whilst this seems like a daunting prospect early on, you start to find it second nature, as you plot your progress and if anything you find this element vital later in the game, This is one area where the dual screen of the 3DS works well and shows the system to be a perfect fit, as you aren’t having to switch away from one screen to load another, then back again. It helps the game flow nicely, rather than being a messy stop, start affair.
The game of course isn’t just about exploring and battling, as there are also elements of resource management, which works alongside the basic upgrading of characters, with stat boosts and basic longer term upgrades. Most of this is recognisable in other RPG games but is packaged well here. Etrian Odyssey IV is far from a short game and hours upon hours can be lost without actually doing much. That is no bad thing though and highlights how engaging the game actually is.
Etrian Odyssey IV is an example of just how engaging a JRPG can be, but also doesn’t stick exclusively to the traditional roots. It is accessible, but the difficulty remains, as it blends what the genre does best with modern elements making sure it finds a wider audience. Whether you are a series veteran or coming in fresh, this is a wonderful game to get stuck in to.