|Dungeon Crawler RPG; 3DS; Atlus; 2013|
|Ah the magical occupation of RPGs: Explorer. At least it's better than Adventurer.|
Etrian Odyssey was never a series known for its story, and because of that Etrian Odyssey IV's story is largely serviceable. There is nothing groundbreaking or genre defining, just a good story told well. Of course if you are expecting something more impressive from the presentation, then be prepared to be disappointed as 99% of the story is told through dialog boxes describing what you see with at most static portraits of the characters who are talking to you. That being said the localization job is excellent with top notch writing you've come to expect from Atlus. Of course given your entire party is player generated, the lack of characterization of our group is a little distracting.
|KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!|
Of course, exploring dungeons inevitable means fighting monsters and Etrian Odyssey proves itself to be an Atlus game through and through. The actual combat system is fairly basic, your team of 5 party members form two rows and fight off against a number of monsters who also can form two rows. The back rows gain bonus defense from melee attacks and can only be hit by melee attacks from characters in the front row. It's all basic stuff that anyone who has played RPGs before knows about. What Etrian Odyssey IV does different is it's class system. At the beginning of the game you have 7 classes to choose from with an additional 3 classes unlocked as the game progresses, and each class functions very VERY different from one another. You have very basic classes like the Fortress (High Defense tank), Medic (Healer, duh), Runemaster (Elemental attacker), and Sniper (Ranged attacker). But then you have classes that completely change the way you play, like the Landsknecht who's elemental attacks will trigger bonus damage to the next person who attacks that enemy, the Dancer who can do follow up attacks or have other character follow up their attacks, the Arcanist who can lay down circles that inflict status ailments and restore your HP, and Bushi whom the term glass cannon is very appropriate as they can deal a TON of damage at the cost of losing HP. Not only that, but each class's development is completely up to you as every skill requires spending skill points earn at every level. You can have two Landsknechts that are COMPLETELY different from one another, and that isn't even going into subclasses. What this means is that the game is heavily dependent on having the right party balance, as a good party balance will make exploration easy, a poor one will send you to the gameover screen a LOT faster.
|That icon means RUN!|
Etrian Odyssey IV is hard, it requires a lot of grinding, and it is light on story and presentation. These don't make it a bad game, but it does mean that it is a game that doesn't have mass appeal. Let's face it, you have to be a particular type of gamer to enjoy the Etrian series. You have to be the type of gamer who likes slower RPGs that is more about slowly getting stronger and getting better gear, than epic stories about whinny teens trying to save the world. But if you can get into this game, it is well worth your effort as the reward isn't so much about seeing the story's completion, but rather to challenge yourself. For those who enjoy the hardest of RPGs, Etrian Odyssey IV is Highly Recommended.
And if you don't know whether you'll like the game or not, you can always check out the rather impressive demo.
Until Next Time.