There are no Chocobos in this mysterious dungeon.
Etrian Odyssey has kept the traditional dungeon crawler alive for a long while. They’re hard to come by nowadays, but I could always count on Atlus to bring some classic first person exploration to the handhelds. Persona Q was the first combo game that was released, and I loved it completely. Now, we’re mixing the Mystery Dungeon games with the Etrian Odyssey flavor in Etrian Mystery Dungeon. While it still holds true to the Etrian formula, there are a ton of different things to be seen – some good, some not so good.
The game revolves around the player creating an adventurer’s guild and exploring the dungeons outside of town. Pretty soon, they become the protectors of the town and have to fend off giant boss monsters that are trying to make it out of the dungeons and into town to wreak havoc. While all this is going on, players will be collecting loot, items and gold to improve both the town and their guild and characters.
Price I’d pay: $39.99
Just like the original Etrian games, Mystery Dungeon is one full of dangerous traps and monsters, and it can be a rather daunting experience for players not familiar with the difficulty of the original games. Etrian Mystery Dungeon has aspects of a rogue-like game. If all party members fall in a dungeon, they will return to town losing items, some equipment, and lots of gold. Luckily, I was able to keep my level and skill progress, but when death does happen, it’s pretty devastating.
The game plays out in an isometric view with the player controlling the party leader. Players must manage hunger while navigating the dungeons. This can be sated easily by keeping some bread in the inventory or walking over certain tiles that can fill up the meter. The leader can be changed at any time, and eventually players will see they need to change leaders in battles. Each step taken is a turn for both the party members and the enemies. Positioning and movement are vital for getting good attacks in, and dictating when and where to attack is very important. This is where a good amount of frustration comes in. Since I’m only controlling the party leader, the other party members move and attack on their own. Seeing some of the stupid things the AI chooses to do while in the heat of battle drove me up a wall. That is why switching the leader constantly is helpful for actually generating results in battle. That then leads to a slowed down pace that became a bit monotonous after a while.
Party up, hold them off.
There are many different classes to choose from and creating a good party mixed with special attacks and support buffs is essential. Just like in the Etrian Odyssey games. Recruiting more can be beneficial as well. While in dungeons, players can create a fort that can lock in a dungeon floor’s layout as well as serve as a holding point for DOEs. Much like the FOEs of the Etrian Odyssey games, DOEs are boss monsters that travel around the dungeons trying to get out. They will also follow the player’s party. If they get out of the dungeon, they can then move into town and start destroying buildings essential for numerous things for the party. Staffing a fort with guild members will hold off a DOEs for a while and give the player time to help out in the fight. But if left alone, the DOEs will destroy the fort that was built and move on. So not only do I have to be strategic in battles, but also in character progression, fort building, and recruiting. It is a very deep game and once I came to terms with everything, it became a very rewarding experience.
While the story is a bit minimal, it got the job done and kept me playing. But the look and original soundtrack were fantastic and really stood out to me. The presentation was stellar.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon has the makings of both a great Mystery Dungeon game and Etrian Odyssey game. Fans of both will have a great time exploring and finding new items and skills to try out.
There’s a lot in this little 3DS game that can keep you busy for tons of hours. Just keep in mind, it is a difficult game and it doesn’t apologize for it, but if you can get past the learning curve, it becomes a very rewarding experience that dungeon crawling fans will really enjoy – even if the AI can be dumb as bricks at times.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.