Friday, January 18, 2008

Etrian Odyssey

I'm already a huge fan of most of the RPG's that Atlus puts out (Persona 3, Tactics Ogre, etc.) and decided to pick this one up after I heard it was a throw back to Wizardry. It's a first person dungeon hack with very detailed anime-style graphics that remind me of Odin Sphere, but made for the DS.

The game play is pretty simple - create a party, go into the dungeon, level up, fight tough mini-bosses on each floor, etc. But where this game really shines is the difficulty. It is really hard.

I just finished Zelda - Phantom Hourglass and while that was a good game with a great story and typical Zelda-style game play (earning weapons/tools that help you progress further), I was a bit let down. It's really easy and the puzzles are simple to figure out, except for maybe one or two.

Etrian Odyssey, on the other hand,is very hard. The game requires you to constantly level up to fight harder and harder enemies. I blasted into the first floor of the dungeon and got slaughtered before I made it very far at all. Wow. I took a step back, remembered what playing the original Dragon Warrior was like, and tried again.

It has that same style of battle layout as well, with turn based combat and a first person perspective. The combat is fast and simple. No five-minute CGI cutscenes ala Final Fantasy summons. Just straight ahead fighting.

It's much the same with the game on a whole, actually. In town, you don't walk around a map. You just scroll through a few screens and all shops and locations are available from a central map. It makes it easy to go into town, heal and rest (as you will do many, many times).

Items and weapons are actually created by selling the items you get from enemies you kill to the shop keeper, which is a fun way to go about it. No more 20 different shops on the world map and wondering where the hell the such and such sword was for your fighter...

It's a game that relies on your love for a good, old fashioned dungeon hack and enjoyment of the battle mechanic, both of which, I love.

But, much like Dragon Warrior, you will get frustrated running into enemies who take your party out very quickly where you didn't expect them. You learn to tread with caution very quickly.

I'm on the third floor of the dungeon after about six or seven hours of play and rumor has it there are about 25 levels to go through. I can't put it down and find myself wanting to power up my DS in traffic during my commute and do some grinding, which is a first for any DS game for me.

I can't wait to see what's lurking on floor four.

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