Etrian Mystery Dungeon 3DS Review
Etrian Odyssey is an RPG series that’s light on the story and heavy on the dungeon grind. The Mystery Dungeon games are often similar in that regard, so the crossover game Etrian Mystery Dungeon surprised no one familiar with either franchise. Both games wear their classical influence on their sleeves, with Etrian Odyssey being similar to Wizardy, and Mystery Dungeon taking a lot of elements from Rogue.
In the child from this marriage, Mystery Dungeon seems to have given over the most dominant genes. Most of the Etrian Odyssey touches seem to be in aesthetics and while that series is usually vibrant and full of personality in terms of looks, it seems to have been watered down a bit. In dungeons it looks a bit too functional so at a glance can seem like a fairly boring game. However if you let its hooks get into, Etrian Mystery Dungeon can be a decent dungeon crawl.
It can be a little challenging to start with, but like so many others in the genre once you strengthen your party and understand the way the systems work it can be quite fun to take on and beat the dungeons.
This isn’t an RPG you can brute force into finishing, preparation is key in order to survive. That could be from bringing along the right classes, the right items, and a decent set of weapons and armour. You’ll also need to know when to not push yourself too hard and know when to retreat. Keep all this in mind and the game should be fairly easy-going, with the exception a few spots.
Certain rooms in can turn into “monster houses”, which suddenly spawn a large amount of enemies, which can be very challenging on a first run-through. Once your party becomes more powerful however they become less of a challenge, but if filled with enemies that inflict status ailments, they can become a drain on the party’s resources.
The layout of the dungeon also can cause some frustrating situations, to travel to another room narrow corridors in which your party can only go through in single file. These bottlenecks can create a situation where a single party member is surrounded by monsters on entering a room. It makes it difficult to make use of the full party, especially since throughout most of the dungeon you can only control one member at a time while the rest follow.
If in any case the party is separated, it becomes a big chore to join them together again, as your other members will just walk away in seemingly random directions. It can be incredibly annoying for a magic user with low defence to suddenly walk far away from the party into a room filled with enemies.
Throughout most of the dungeon there’s little control over what party members during battle, with an exception of telling them whether or not to use certain spells and items. It can be a little annoying especially since a party member may want to use an item you have in short supply instead of a spell which could be used in abundance.
During end of dungeon boss battles you are given full control of the party in a similar fashion to a tactical RPG much like Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. It’s much less of a hassle and while it might have slowed down the game a fair bit, I feel it could have been a little better to control more of the game like this.
There are actually a couple of original touches, such as the DOEs, which are incredibly powerful enemies which unless thoroughly prepared for could easily wipe the party. These are very difficult fights, however they are all optional and the first few you come across will have to be avoided as your party will not be strong enough to take them on. Being on the same floor as one of these is incredibly tense, because if they catch up to your party they can cause some serious trouble.
Even when not fighting them they still have to be thought about, as they will attempt to escape the dungeon and do damage to the outside world. There are some fairly simple systems to deal with this, so it really isn’t that stressful.
If some of this seems fairly standard for a game of its type, well it kinda is. This is a comfort food game, where it has what you expect from it, but done rather well. No huge surprises to be found here, but those who have enjoyed other similar games will definitely have fun with it. It just seems a bit of a stretch that it would appeal beyond that.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a good dungeon crawler with a few small annoying elements to it. For some those might all add up and cause a great deal of frustration, but for people who are able to put up with it and dig deep into the dungeons, there’s fun to be had.