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Etrian Odyssey (DS) artwork

Etrian Odyssey (DS) review

"Dearest dungeon-crawler fan, "

Dearest dungeon-crawler fan,

We are sending you this love letter in order to inform you that we have made a new RPG in the tradition of Wizardry. It will be played entirely in first person, with turn-based navigation and combat, it will take place in a large maze, and it will require cartography skills. It will also be obscenely difficult, redundant on many levels, and will only appeal to people that like computer RPGs from the 80’s. It was designed with only you in mind; we made it because we love you deeply.

Etrian Odyssey will feature exactly one town and exactly one dungeon. You must explore this dungeon because it’s there. Do you wonder what is at the bottom? We won’t spoil the sense of mystery for you! You’ll have to draw a map, just the way you like it, otherwise you’ll get lost and never return. (Please don’t leave us!) We knew you were running out of graph paper, so we’ll let you draw the map on the touch screen. Isn't that a clever feature? You can use the stylus to draw walls, mark special places, and take notes. It’s really fun; you’ll love it – almost as much as we love you.

We put this particular dungeon in a tree, then filled it with adorable (but distraught) woodland creatures. I hope you won't be embarrassed if your party is ever wiped out by a roving band of cuddly moths, because that'll probably happen. To counteract this, you should level grind – a lot. In fact, all you should really be doing is level grinding so you can penetrate deeper inside our dungeon. We added quests for you to do, but they're optional and rarely deviate from the standard “find X item” or “kill X monster.” You might not think that grinding so much could be gratifying, but the way we do it to you will really pleasure you. Encounters will be quick and your enemies are usually scaled properly. As a general rule, once you map out an entire floor, you will he ready to move on to the next floor to do the same thing. Of course bosses and F.O.E.s are a completely different story.

F.O.E.s? Oh, it's short for “Foedus Obrepit Errabundus.” It was the nerdiest thing we could think of – do you like it? F.O.E.s are massive, fiery balls that visibly transverse the dungeon. They're like bosses that got bored waiting for adventurers to come challenge them. You should avoid them and come back when you're stronger, because they will probably kill you on sight. Be careful around them: while some walk along a set path, others will be attracted to you and will charge if they spot you. In real life, if a F.O.E. was attracted to you we would strangle it in a jealous rage.

To take on the challenges that we have put before you, you will need to create a guild and resister some characters. If you can't figure out what kind of party you want, don't fret – you can create over a dozen characters and swap them in and out as you please. I'm sure you will be able to commit to one party though; you wouldn't want to give anyone the impression that you are afraid of commitment. Have you thought of a name for your guild yet? We named ours after you. We named our characters after traits that you have too. For example, the Protector class is like a Paladin, so we called it “Our Knight in Shining Armor;” the Survivalist is really just another name for a Rogue, so it's “The Thief who stole Our Heart;” and Medics are just Healers, so we named ours “Snuggles.” There are about a dozen classes, so we won't bore you with all of them.

Each class has its own unique set of skills, which makes all of them interesting to play. We're sorry, but we can only give you one skill point to allocate per level. This can make progress feel slow at times, but did you expect Etrian Odyssey to be a fast paced game? We also regret to inform you that not all of these skills have been properly balanced. You’re going to want to learn “immunize” and “defender” right away because we broke them (sorry!). Some of the other skills are completely useless, and a few don’t even work properly (just like RPGs of olde). We know you'll figure out what works best. There really isn't any party combination that will be severely hindered, so don't worry and just have some fun.

Have we told you recently that we love you? Because we do; we do love you. This game was specially made just for you and no one else. We don’t think anyone but you will even understand it. We are going to seal each copy with a kiss.

We hope that you have the stamina to endure Etrian Odyssey, because it is on the long side (especially for a DS game). You can only save in town, so you might be better off playing at home, preferably in bed under the warm covers with our arms around you. We're not so cruel as to make you run back to town all the time though. There's an item that will take you back in a pinch, and there are special places that allow you to warp to and from town, so there shouldn't be as much backtracking as you might think.

As far as dungeon-crawlers go, this is one of the better ones; it's a pity that not many people like the genre anymore. We only produced enough copies for you anyway, but you’re used to finding our obscenely rare games by now, we’re sure. People that grew up with Final Fantasy X are not going to understand how anyone can get pleasure out of this type of thing, but we know how to satisfy you. You are the only person we develop games for anymore; you’re all that we can think about. Much like this game, you might not be the fanciest person in the world and you might not be the most commercially or critically successful, but we see something special in you and care for you deeply.

With love,
Atlus, USA

Enclosed. A bouquet of healing potions

dagoss's avatar
Community review by dagoss (June 27, 2008)

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