Deep Silver’s charming dual-screened JRPG makes its way to western shores for the portable 3DS console, and I managed to get my grubby little MIT’s onto it, so read on for a more in-depth look at the 5th entry in the Etrian Odyssey story arc.
Let me start off by first confessing, I’m completely new to the series, so as a newbie trying to pick up the story, and familiarize myself, I felt guidance for newcomers in this was somewhat lacking, however, the story concept is relatively easy to understand.
The ancient Yggdrasil (a tree of mythical tales, worshipped by gods, and as high as the heavens above) Is attracting attention from all over the lands of Arcania, lost treasures waiting to be found, and extravagant classes like Earthians Dragoon’s, the Sorcerers of the north, and warriors from distant mountains, (plus many, many others) scale the earth to create new legends, desperate to be granted the powers of the gods, for a journey of unknown risks and glory’s. Access to the tree is strictly forbidden by the Arcania council…Well, that was, until the royal family granted a decree (no I’m not talking prince harry) to allow all explorers to challenge the mighty myth itself. Many adventurers set forth with haste, on a journey of gigantic proportions to reach the top of the Yggdrasil where their destinies will unfold.
Our adventure begins in the city of Lorys the heart of the arcania continent, determined not to be outdone by the many other explorers, you are also invited to navigate through Yggdrasil’s unforgiving, complex jungle, first you meet with the local council, where you select missions at the council hall and learn of relevant information regarding Yggdrasil. Missions completed reward various items and progress the story.
Before this takes place you get the opportunity to learn about :
- The Inn
- Explorers Guild –recruit fellow treasure/legend seekers, to stamp your mark in the history books, and assist on your journey. Guilds can host up to 30 adventurers at a time, from all classes.
These are like social hub spots, accessible when not dungeon crawling, where you can rest, save, stock up, etc.
Race & Class
Race Earthlain – Well rounded and with high HP resources, this race includes the following classes.
- Fencer – Frontline sword wielders with high evasion.
- Dragoon – a versatile class capable of defence and attack. A badass knight in armour.
- Pugilist – Warriors with damage bursts.
- Harbinger – Miasma manipulators that use scythes after considerably weakening foes.
Arcane magic experts, with high intellect skills.
- Warlock – Casters of black magic including fire, ice and lighting, capable of utilizing devastating ancient spells.
- Necromancer – An all-purpose summoner, casts a wraith to defend or attack for the party.
An agile race with high strength, classes include
- Rover – Hunters skilled with bow and arrow, expertly taming animals to support the party.
- Masurao – Masters of the katana sword, frontline offensive.
Well balanced in support, with good intellect and vitality. Classes are as follows
- Shaman – Supporters from the back, cast blessings (buffs) to improve abilities and stats, capable healers.
- Botanist – Naturalist’s that use poisons and herbs to heal or hurt with their concoctions.
Here you can customize how your class looks in terms of appearance such as eye colour to voice. (I went with villainous, type 20, as the voice character yelling “greedy bastards” sounded pretty damn sweet hah).
After I selected my Shaman, known as Elvezio, (any other name suggestions?) I collected the quest details of the 1st floor tutelary forest, paid Lorys marketplace a visit (sell and purchase goods), and off I went to gather some soil and return it to the council to prove my credentials of post city ass kicking…I should have failed this miserably, fortunately, fail I did not :D.
Surrounded by lush forest greens, and clear spring waters, my journey began, using the d-pad to navigate Elvezio, and the analogue to control the camera felt very odd. As unlike standard console controls, the analogue is right above the d-pad making it nigh on impossible to control both at the same time.
Using the skills menu via custom, I had the option of selecting a class and race skills. Class skills being determined by the specs chosen, while race skills are more exploration boosters.
Skill points are earnt by the industry standard level up/reward system. Each class have unique skills that obviously others do not.
Exploring the forest was really insightful, pop-ups detailing points of interest, such as mining spots, chop spots (timber cutting) and descriptions of the environment all helped bring the world of Arcania to life. It’s here you learn to mark these spots on the map, as you can only mine ore, wood and numerous goods once per day. I soon learnt that recreating squares in the dungeon exactly as they are, onto my map (with the stylus) was important, this ranged from drawing walls, and painting floors, to placing landmarks and icons with the palette available to assist with this.
I struggled to get to grips with the old school concept, but could still appreciate that for some this is a work of art, in a market where a supply of dungeon grinds and a more exploration focused game then story driven are low, I could certainly see Oddysey’s appeal to the niche fan base.
Etrian Odyssey V is a game with no auto-map, so when you’re not being killed by forest critters, the game has you ascending the labyrinth. As you move along, you’ll notice that the bottom screen of the 3DS fills out a map for you because you don’t find or buy maps in Etrian Odyssey – you make them.
The turn-based battle system has some pretty neat features. One is the union skill mostly effective when in tandem with other party members and is a proper turn the battle in your favour if timed right. For instance, at LVL 10, when using the Brouni race, you can cast “forbidden rite”, which extends buffs and debuffs for an extra turn.
The lack of hero input and story left me feeling disappointed in what is otherwise a great game. So fellow gamers, tie up your boar guards, and fire your troll howitzer’s as Arcania’s Yggdrasil awaits you.