Probably many of you will be surprised not to find my typical narrative introduction at the opening, but for this video game I decided to "protest" about the lack of an adequate introduction to the game. Considering the strategy of Atlus of the recent remakes, or as I like to call them “regenerations”, of the previous chapters in a strongly more narrative key and with the addition of new features introduced in the following episodes, I find the total lack of a narrative component in this title inappropriate. Fortunately, the world of Etrian is a world of infinite possibilities, even if some of these sometimes take a strange "perspective".
Here is the review of Etrian Mystery Dungeon exclusive Nintendo 3DS.
Same setting, different rules
After 4 games considered the main line of the series, and two remakes (one of which will be released at the beginning of next year), in Atlus they have tried to take a new path with this spin-off that attempts to combine the class system with the First Person Dungeon Crawler's Etrian Odyssey, with the typical elements of a third-person exploration at the "Mystery Dungeon"(Which has several spin-offs including some dedicated to Pokémon).
Like every chapter in the series, the main character of the story has just arrived in a new city where job opportunities for an aspiring adventurer have appeared, and as is now customary, we are proposed to face a dungeon in order to prove ourselves worthy of own a guild in which to recruit and train fellow travelers. This first introductory part in which you control a single character is very reminiscent of the first video games of this type of the early 90s, first of all the famous "Fatal maze”, Often remembered as one of the most cynical and materialistic video games of the time. In fact, even here the random generation of dungeons have been introduced, which greatly moves away from the renowned manual "mapping" of the dungeons that is usually attributed to Etrian Odyssey, as well as obviously from the random arrangement of objects including coins, potions, parchments and obviously chests, which to make the game even more complicated, they have a timer that makes them disappear if they are not opened within a certain number of turns after entering the room.
Another novelty lies in the introduction, in addition to the health points and the energy points of the skills, of the hunger bar, which is consumed with our every movement and which can be minimally filled by walking on special boxes arranged in each map (or by resorting to food purchasable at base camp), and upon exhaustion of which we will not only lose the comfortable natural regeneration of health, but each step will cost us life points.
Things to do in the city
Once you have finished the first solo dungeon, you will move on to creating your own guild. Back in the city our priority will be the composition of the group at the guild headquarters itself.
Swordsman, Protector, Mage, Ninja and even "Ruler" are just some of the classes that make a comeback in this chapter, and while possessing a skill structure that might seem simplified at a glance, it proves to be capable of supporting the characters. in their adventure. Once the team is ready, you can go to the shop, where you can use some initial coins to give your group better equipment, obviously it is not very well stocked, but by bringing back the materials of the monsters eliminated from our explorations it will be possible to unlock better and better equipment for our characters.
The next stop is the inn, which in addition to providing a cooking service that can provide different bonuses to each member of the team, exhibits a bulletin board where it is possible to obtain secondary missions. Obviously, the presentation of the guild to the representative of the country is mandatory, who in addition to wishing us his wishes for the future, has just ready for the occasion a mission that takes the role of the main quest, and suggests that we go to the inn to rest before enter the next dungeon, an advice to follow immediately, thus going to discover the base of our operations, where we could deposit objects, money and equipment, to avoid losing it in case of defeat, and where we could save the game.
Change style for casual?
The different game structure and some simplifications could make you think of this title, and I mean the "Mystery Dungeon" part, as an attempt to bring this series closer to people who were little convinced by its difficulty and complexity, and actually the initial feeling would seem to confirm this idea, given that a fairly balanced team is able, without improving equipment or particular farming, to finish the first dungeon, including the boss, without particular difficulties, but already from the next dungeon, the hardcore spirit of the game manifests itself with all its nastiness, and every clumsy move by our team can lead to the death of its members with fewer defenses with a single hit from an enemy. In fact we will always and only control the "group leader" of the expedition, while the other members are moved and managed by the game's AI, which unfortunately often turns out to be lacking, in fact more than once the remote members of the group will not be able to arrange themselves correctly for attack only after several turns from the start of the fight itself.
In this case, a more sophisticated AI management, perhaps surrounded by the possibility of giving instructions to one's companions, would have been able to provide a more satisfying experience, given that at the moment the only choice you have is to block totally use some skills. Fortunately, a bar that fills slowly during fights is able to activate a series of special commands to the group, such as moving each individual member manually.
Finally, noteworthy is the lack of permadeath: In case the entire team has been wiped out in a dungeon you have two alternatives: return to the base with no more objects, one equipment at random per team member and half the money, or go with another team to save their teammates, reducing losses but thus requiring the creation and maintenance of a team of the same level. In this regard, the latest important introduction of this spinoff comes to the rescue: the forts. In fact, in each dungeon it is possible to build an outpost that can mainly "block" the structure of the dungeon, making it static, but to function as a teleport and as an advanced base where stationed heroes can train automatically to slowly gain levels in complete safety. .
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What is it like to see yourself from the outside?
Given the new top-down view, necessary for the correct organization of the party, for the first time it is possible to see the characters in motion, instead of just witnessing the effects of their shots with a first-person view.
For the realization of this effect, a "puppet" style (or super deformed to be clear) was chosen for characters, which, while making the direction in which it is facing well, could turn up one's nose given the scarce resemblance to the portraits of the characters chosen during their creation. However, it is a flaw that can be overlooked, considering that at least any weapon or shield equipped on the character now has a visual representation of it. As for the 3DS, the work done is adequate to the standard of the series, and the same for the music, which is able to accompany the exploration of the dungeons without ever being boring or repetitive. Like the main series, the game is entirely in English.
Verdict 7.5 / 10 More casual than an Odyssey, more hardcore than a Mystery Comment Summing up we have 2 points of view overall: For fans of the main line of the series this title might seem a clumsy attempt to mix solid gameplay that has been improving more and more over the years with a style of play that, however close, does not belong to him. While for Mystery Dungeon fans, here they will be sure not only to find a challenge that lives up to their expectations, but a much more developed and profound game system, and certainly less punishing. Overall, managing to turn a blind eye to the most obvious defects, the title turns out to be an extremely profound and well-structured experience capable of giving hours and hours of exploration, rarely getting bored, as the challenge is always around every corner and every room may be the last. Pros and cons ✓ The setting is Etrian
✓ Several additions to the series x Dispersive maps
x Allied AI deficient
x Reduced skill tree
x Lack of introduction and narrative