Hey gang, Valkor here. One of my favorite video games of all times is the first Final Fantasy released here in the states. And what I loved most about it was the different combination of characters I could choose to have in my party. I’ve beaten the game with all fighters, white and black mages (tough as fuck but doable), and even all red mages. I’ve also purchased the remastered versions of the game on both the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the Gameboy Advance. In short, my love of this game knows no ends. Which is why I’m saddened that I’m just now hearing about the Etrian Odyssey series, but I’m glad I was given the opportunity to review the latest title – Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth for the Nintendo 3DS. It brings back that classic RPG feel while adding a whole lot of new to the fold.
In Etrian Odyssey V, you play as an adventurer who creates a guild of up to thirty members of among four races with ten classes that you can customize and mix and match as you see fit (right down to eye, hair color and voices). The story is fairly simple: in order to gain notoriety, your party must tackle all of the complexities of the Yggdrasil aka “The World Tree”, which includes puzzles, traps, and beasts – great and small. But there’s also plenty to help you along the way such as other guild members, friendly NPCs, campfires for creating dishes, as well as areas for gathering resources that can be used to create weapons, armors, and variety of potions. There's also a "street pass" feature, but I've never come across anyone with the game... yet.
Etrian Odyssey V is a dungeon crawler taken from a first-person point of view. The game has a bit of an open world feel to it, even though it's clearly boxed in. But in order to get through the game, you’ll have to map out each floor on your own, using the lower touch screen of the 3DS. So you get to travel pretty much anywhere until you've filled out your map. There is an option to automap, but the game has a more personal feel as you can choose from a set number of icons to where doors, traps, mining areas and so forth are located. You can also add colors to certain areas like blue for lakes and gray for rock areas.
Battles are turn-based, which is typical RPG fare where you choose to attack, use magic, or a skill. What’s different is the use of “Union Skill”, where either your character alone or all characters can perform a strong offensive or defensive move such as heal your entire party, perform a strong attack, boost your defense, or perform a full retreat that will take you back to the beginning of the level; once you’ve completed a battle you’re given experience points as well as items from fallen foes. And gaining a level awards you skill points that you can apply towards a skill tree to improve your character's attributes.
When you’re done adventuring or your party just can’t take any more abuse, and this game will abuse you, you can head back to the town where you can rest up at the inn, head for the shop to upgrade your weapons and armor or replenish your potions. You can also head for the bar where you can pick up side quests or chat with some of its patrons. From its outward appearance, Etrian Odyssey V seems pretty basic, but it packs a lot of depth. And what I like most are the little events you run into where you get to choose what your character does; one scenario has you spotting a golden grain of wheat and little bird nearby. You can either chase the bird away or feed it the grain. There was also a scenario where I fed a monkey and later, on that same level, I ran into it again and he paid me back for my kindness. So, those were some cool touches that really broaden the adventure.
I went into Etrian Odyssey V creating six characters, but I had to create a 7th as I realized I didn’t have a legit healer in my crew. How I made it as far as I did without one is what takes me back to my FFI days where I chose all fighters and I loaded up as much healing potions as I could. But when I did my run of the first stratum, I got trounced. And a healer, at the jump, would have helped a lot! I didn’t think it’d be so tough! But as I started to develop my characters, building up their levels and equipment, the journey became that much smoother. But for my first outing with the series, I have to say I love it! And I’ll tell you why in the TOV Breakdown.
Honestly, I can't get enough of Etrian Odyssey V. And now I want to go back and play the past adventures; once you pick it up and start to become immersed in the adventure, it really is tough to put it down. The game is easy to pick up and so much fun to play. I’ll admit it took some time getting adjusted to the new game mechanics, as I’ve never had to map out my adventure before. Usually, the game does it for me. And its one feature that I thought I would hate. But it’s fairly simply to perform and grows easier over time. The gameplay is on point as performing any task, including combat sequences, can be done with no issue. I mean, it would be insane if something so simple were flubbed. Another plus is the depth you’re given to customize your characters; I mean it’s not like you’re adjusting jawlines or adding wrinkles to a brow. It’s a simple palette swap, but it works. Graphically, the game looks pretty good by 3DS standards, though character details are just artwork stills. However, the exploration areas look great and pack a lot of variety as you journey into each stratum. Now, the music is very well done. And can we talk about how sexy the tunes at the inn are? It’s so smooth and jazzy that I could spend long periods of time just listening to it. Not even joking, the music is playing as I’m writing this piece. It's just so sexy! Etrian Odyssey V, I have to say that I’m glad to have crossed your path. And I look forward to not only fully completing this adventure, but I can’t wait to tackle past and future titles as well.
My only complaint with the title is with the voice acting; specifically the voices you choose for your characters. For the most part, I’m OK with it. But since most of the characters displayed appear to be female, why have male voices? Why not simply scrap the voices altogether?
Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is available now. And if you enjoy RPGs, then this is one title you’ll want to pick up. It has a taste of old-school gameplay with a nice mix of new, in one fun and entertaining package. I highly recommend picking it up. And out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Etrian Odyssey V a 4.5