Dungeon-Mapping Adventure Awaits the Bold
Sometimes you long for a game that provides a challenge, a challenge greater than most RPGs these days provide. Sometimes, you want to go questing while haunted by the dread of a brutal end awaiting you around every corner. For the last few years, the Etrian Odyssey series has catered to those with this longing, and next month, it will do so again with its first installment on the Nintendo 3DS.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan continues the hardcore, old-school RPG questing that defines Etrian Odyssey. Like the previous EO games, you will be able to create a guild of adventurers (consisting of classes like swordsmen, dancers, medics, and snipers) and set forth to explore labyrinths in a first-person perspective, fighting (and likely dying at the hands of) monsters as you go. It won't shake the formula up drastically, but that isn't to say this next entry will bring nothing new.
It does. The most notable addition to the series is the enhanced presentation. From the visuals (which include fully animated monsters taking the place of static sprites in the turn-based battles) to the new orchestral soundtrack, Etrian Odyssey IV certainly benefits from the 3DS' improved hardware and provides players with a richer world to discover.
Just as the world has been enhanced, so too have many aspects of the gameplay. The single super-labyrinth of previous games is now divided into multiple "world tree" labyrinths spread across the game's setting. Getting to them will require you to make use of a hot-air balloon to get around, similar to the ocean-navigation sections from EO III (just without the limit on how far you can travel). The refinements continue into character customization, with the series' skill-tree system reworked so that skills are divided into groups depending on character experience. This time around, you will need to get a character to a certain experience level before you can unlock their next set of skills.
Those refinements do not change the fact, however, that this is still an Etrian Odyssey game through and through. In Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan you will still form (and customize) your guild, spend most of your time exploring the dungeons, and be in charge of mapping each one out yourself on the touch screen to keep an eye on where you (and the boss-like F.O.E.s) are at any time.
Random turned-based battles also return, and just like before, they will tear the unprepared apart with their brutality. Legends of the Titan will make it a little easier for newcomers and less hardcore gamers to get into the fray, with the inclusion of a new "easy" setting. However, this won't make the enemies any easier to beat, but it will allow players who die to head back to the nearest hub-city with all their data, instead of being sent back to the last save point.
Etrian Odyssey has always been a niche series with its emphasis on capturing the hardcore challenge of the first-person, dungeon-crawling RPGs from the days of 80s yore. While EO IV isn't showing any signs of changing that, its refinements to the formula, enhanced visuals, and the inclusion of (some) leniency towards newcomers should make it a worthy addition for fans of the series, as well as a perfect jumping-on point for those who are curious to give it a try (and likely die trying).
February 26. This is the day when Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan will invite players new and old into the labyrinth, but only the bold of heart should be ready to accept the invitation.
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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