Players: | Release Date: 02/26/13 | Genre: RPG
As the fourth installment of the franchise, I never bothered to even look at Etrian Odyssey during its three game run on the Nintendo DS. One night, while I was sick as a dog, I was sitting on my couch and browsing the Nintendo eShop. There I ran across a demo of Etrian Odyssey IV. As I couldn’t sleep and was bored, I decided to download it. I began my journey in a world full of first person dungeon crawling, creating a party of characters named after my family, and filling out my maps, on the bottom touch screen, to keep up with all the hidden nooks and crannies. I was having fun. Surely this must be the fever...
But the fun didn’t stop even when I got better and I was given a review code, courtesy of our friends at Atlus, for use in our coverage of Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. With the Dungeon Crawling subgenre of Role Playing Games, you are primarily wandering around dungeons and exploring the map. Having a second screen, as with the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS helps in always having it displayed.
All battles are randomly generated with the exception of bosses and larger enemies that play a key role in battles or puzzles. Once inside a battle, the player fights in first person. Larger dungeons will have multiple floors and you will locate save points that can also lead you back to town. Towns are where the player sells extra gear and resources that unlock stronger weapons, armor, and accessories.
The interaction in town is limited to just a handful of characters. These characters will give you quests to complete. Quests can ask you to kill a certain enemy, find a location, locate a character, bring back a particular item, etc. Satisfying the quest object results in items and experience used to make your characters stronger.
There are no predetermined parties in Etrian Odyssey IV. You are creating a Guild of characters to fill out your five party slots. These include classes like Healers, Warriors, Archers, Dancers, Nightseekers, or hybrid classes. You are allowed to create many characters for your guild. But only active party members, participating in a battle, will receive experience. Leveling up these characters will allow you to gain skill points. Skill points can unlock skills via a tree to make each class unique and helpful in battle.
As you lead your party into a dungeon or overworld map, you automatically map your surroundings. Players are also encouraged to add icons and details to the maps to detail where exits, secret tunnels, treasure, harvestable resources, monsters, and other things lie. If you would have told me, prior to playing Etrian Odyssey IV that I would enjoy tapping away at a map, to chart it out, I would have laughed at you. Now I can’t stop.
While the dungeons are explored via first person, the overworld maps, that lead you to dungeons and nearby areas, are all played out in third person via a balloon. Here you can seek out animals to sell, in town, find other ballooning NPC guilds, and try to avoid roaming monsters. As with the monsters on the map, inside the dungeons, these guys are very strong. You will need to level up your characters, gain plenty of skills, and gear to be able to stand a chance at defeating even one of them.
To help newcomers to the series, and genre, there is a Casual mode to make things easier. This is a welcome addition to the series and should help you be less cautious in trying the game out as a newcomer.
Visually the game looks nice but isn’t a lot upgraded over its predecessors. The textures used to populate the game world could use some upgrading as they are nowhere near as detailed as the characters or monsters you face. As navigating dungeons is one of the primary elements found in Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of Titan, I find this lack of detail to be disappointing. This isn’t a deal breaker though.
Atlus did take the time to incorporate QR Codes that allow for you to gain new items and quests via promotions at retailers and online from Atlus. They have already released several and you can locate an extensive list by doing a Google search for Etrian Odyssey QR Codes. The Street Pass feature is still included but the real fun is found in the QR Codes.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan stays true to the old-school nature of the Dungeon Crawling subgenre. It doesn’t feature any cinematic sequences, you won’t find many people to interact with, and you will spend plenty of time grinding levels to gain new skills and equipment to defeat overpowered monsters. You may think this genre is not for you. I once thought the same and now I am hooked.
With an extensive quest and a demo for you to give it a try, I recommend Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan to all. In fact, once you are done with the demo, you can even carry over the content and characters to the retail title. That is rarely done in demos and shows you just how much care went into the development and localization by Atlus. Now excuse me while I go back to Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is available as both a Nintendo eShop download and retail cartridge.