With a few small improvements and noticeable graphical changes, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is an intuitive and fun entry to this dungeon crawler RPG franchise as well as a smooth transition to 3DS.
Since the age of 10, I have always been a stalwart fan of dungeon crawlers and roguelike RPG’s. Discovering Eterian Odyssey 5 years ago, which has become a fast favor of mine in the genre and returning to it now, I am always glad to see a game of its caliber making some miniscule improvements to be appealing in the modern age, but never comprising much of its core gameplay values and design. Like all the previous titles, you take on the role of an explorer who is this time tasked by the Outland Count of Tharsis to journey toward Yggdrasil, a large tree that can be seen from Tharsis and uncover its secrets. With your own custom created team, you travel through various regions of all sorts to reach this fabled spot where no one has ever set forth on.
Like the previous titles, character creation is in your hands, meaning that the player can make his/her own party. With 10 character classes to choose from (3 which must be unlocked) you can make a party of 5 just the way you like and swap them out with additional ones that will reside in your Guild. Each class also comes with their own skill tree, allowing you to unlock special abilities unique to that class and also, assign the character a subclass once you progress enough within the game. With the City Of Tharsis as the hub town is where you prepare yourself for each adventure by: buying new equipment, pick up additional quest, rest to restore HP/TP (as well as save your game), and outfit your airship, a new mode of transportation endowed to this series, which will basically get you place to place and various dungeons that you will need to explore.in order to progress through the game. With most of the storyline quest usually straight from the Count himself, you will find yourself visiting the various dungeons of each Stratum (or biome) regularly to complete sub quest that you can pick up at your leisure or just gain a few extra levels that will expedite the process of completing the story. You can easily get 35+ hours from the main scenario (depending on your play style) as well as an additional 15+ with sidequest and extra task.
Dungeon exploration and combat also functions similar to the past titles, with the player exploring various terrains and locations where they can collect material (used for upgrading the shops selection), see eventful scenarios, and obstacles that can all be marked on a map. Map making is just as important as ever in this series and with player keeping their own map of reference points and notes, it does make the difference between wandering aimlessly trying to complete a quest or finding the next floor and getting pelted with random encounters that can make or break your progress. With combat being the same harsh turn-based mistress, if you happened to get defeated, you can save your exploration, but forced to reload at your last save point.
However, Etrian Odyssey IV now has a “causal mode”, a first for the franchise that allows players to avoid the jaws of death and “GAME OVER” screen, wrapped back into town with full health for the party. It also reduces damage that enemies will do, which is helpful if players accidental encounters “F.O.E”, enemies that are way stronger than regular and boss encounters that can be seen on the map and will chase you down if they see you. Thanks to 3DS graphical capabilities, “F.O.E” are now represented by models rather than being a sphere of light, so now you see the creatures that might be the end of you. Other new features include the Streetpass functions where you can trade guild cards with another player via QR code that will allow to use their characters in your party providing that your own are of similar level and also the ability to send treasure maps that will allow you to get some special items and trinkets that can not be obtained regularly. Most can be sold for money or either equipped to your characters.
Speaking of the aforementioned graphical changes, the 3DS really does improve on this front for the franchise greatly as minor as they maybe. Environments are more lusher and fleshed out, enemies are more dynamic and mobile in battle opposed to static, and the games 3D mode is quite an enjoyable experience, but also doesn’t change much when in 2D mode. It really does create a truly immersive experience that will remain fresh and delightful for hours. However, despite the stellar graphics and artwork, they do seem lacking even for the 3DS and not fully utilizing the 3DS system as much as it can be or other titles have been, but still not a major issue. Music composer Yuzo Koshiro returns once again to the franchise and brings with him some new tracks, but also ones that do not depart much from the previous entries.
Etrian Odyssey has held up well over the years and the this newest entry just continues to prove that it can and just has cemented my love even more for the dungeon crawler and rougelike RPG genre. If you enjoyed games like: Wizardry, Dungeon Master, and The Elder Scrolls – Eterian Odyssey IV likens itself to these old and retro RPG’s and deserves to recognized as one. With a few small improvements and noticeable graphical changes, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is an intuitive and fun entry to this dungeon crawler RPG franchise as well as a smooth transition to 3DS. Fully recommended to newbies and veteran RPG fans alike that will provide hours of entertainments and remind why you fell in love with the genre in the first place.
Pros: “Easy to learn, but difficult to master” system, a mix of old school and modern RPG elements, 1st person dungeon exploration is immersive, casual mode for new players, skill tree, subclass, and unlockable features for characters, challenging boss battles, excellent Streetpass features.
Cons: casual mode is too easy, limited character creation model templates, 3DS graphics still lacking on some the finer features.