It may be a long way to the top, but the climb is worth it. For those looking to pick up an old school dungeon crawler with turn based RPG mechanics, or for those who just crave some simple but addictive gameplay, then Etrian Odyssey V is your game. It blends the staples that the series has already built itself upon, while making the game truly something beautiful to behold in 3D.
People returning to the series will feel perfectly at home picking this game up, and even people new to the series will never feel overwhelmed as the game, does a good job explaining its mechanics early on.
Etrian Odyssey’s story is nothing ground breaking, yet it delivers the message perfectly. A new resurgence of adventuring is taking place, and it’s your guild’s duty to try and make it to the top of Yggdrasil. For whoever achieves this accomplishment, will have their greatest wish granted. There are no elaborate cut scenes here. Just simple static characters who talk to each other from occasion to occasion. At times there is voice acting, at other times there is not and you are just reading what the characters are saying.
I would strive to say more important conversations have voice acting, but I am not sure that is true. There were several times, when the voice acting just got in the way of scenes where, it probably didn’t need to be there as the information was not very important. Other times I felt it was a main part of the story, but I was the one reading the voices. This never takes away from the story, because there really is not much more story then that. Get to the top and find out what happens. But it’s addictive and definitely makes you want to find out, what is at the top.
For those whom have already played an Etrian Odyssey game, the formula remains much of the same, but feels a little smoothed out. For those new to the series allow me to explain how the game works. At the very beginning of the game, you will be tasked with creating your guild. You will have Races to choose from, and then each Race has different classes. The game does a very good job of explaining what the difference between races and classes are. So I won’t go on to explain it here, because there is quite a bit of information and a lot of planning that could go into choosing your guild. Best practice is to choose at least one person from each race and make sure you have some form of healer. Once you get past the beginning of the game, you begin to explore the labyrinths of Yggdrasil. Each labyrinth is a maze of floors in which you are trying to find the stair case to the next floor. You move physically around on a grid.
You have four directions you can move, North, East, South, West. But having the game in 3D and looking around, can give the illusion of the world being truly open to you. As you move around on the top screen, the bottom screen holds your map. The map is a huge part of the gameplay.
You can use the map to mark points of interest, see where FOE’s are, and see where ingredients are. It truly is up to the player as to how useful their map is. There is an option to turn on Auto-Map, but this only draws the grid of the map and walls, nothing else. It really is best to use your map and make note of anything important, as you often have to return to places on the map, to complete quests.
If you have already marked the spot, it is easy to find, if you have not, you will be walking around for a while. While walking around on the map, there are large enemies called FOE’s. They are way stronger than the regular enemies you encounter, and until you level up, should be avoided. When you accidentally get into a battle with these things, it is really stressful. Especially when you have just reached a new floor, because they are often way stronger than you are at that point in the game. But later you will return, and then, you see how truly strong you have become.
At points during your quest to reach the top, you will have certain choices. These choices reward you in different ways, but can also harm you. It reminds me of the old table top RPGs, where you made a choice and that choice would have an impact on you, such as “Do you take these berries and eat them to replenish SP or does it harm you?“ None of these choices can make or break the game, but it adds a fun little level to the world, and often makes it feel a little bit more alive. As well there are places where you can gather ingredients. Cooking food and having supplies to replenish your own health and SP means you can go further into the dungeon without turning back.
On the other side of the gameplay is the combat. Anyone who has ever played a turn based RPG will understand the combat system. You are given a selection of choices when fighting an enemy. Each Character can Attack, Defend, and Use an item. Each character has class specific skills, such as casting a spell or dealing special damage. Lastly each character can use a union skill, where requires multiple members to use the ability. You choose what your characters do, and then watch it play out.
It is extremely reminiscent of games like the original Final Fantasy. The great thing about Etrian Odyssey is you always feel like you are making progress. Everything gives you Experience points which helps level you up. When you level up you choose a skill and upgrade it, eventually unlocking more and more skills. Basically the gameplay boils down to 3 things. Walk around to find the staircase, draw the map, and fight the monsters. On the 5th floor of each section you will fight a boss. You are given different quests as well, which changes the formula of what you are doing as well.
Graphics and Sound
It has been a few iterations since I picked up a game in the series, so I could notice an improvement in the 3D textures of the game. Everything is very clear when looking at it in 3D and the world has been crafted beautifully, with each labyrinth looking vastly different than the last. The music complements the look and overall feeling of the game. In the earlier labyrinths, the music is incredibly cheerful and happy–go-lucky. In later stages of the game, it goes from, depressing to intriguing. This does a great job of expressing the emotions of the place without giving you storied details. The music that plays during combat does a great job of getting you pumped up. And the Music that plays when facing a FOE does a great job of expressing anxiety and nervousness.
The game also features a day to night cycle. It is purely aesthetic as the monsters are not more challenging at night. But seeing the time change makes the world all the more believable.
The last thing to mention is the voice acting. I feel the game probably could have done without having any. Some character voices can get kind of annoying. But other than that, the graphics are really beautiful and engaging and the music is absolutely top notch.
A review code for this game was provided for free for review purposes. This does not affect the opinion of the content or value of released game.