Etrian Odyssey is an interesting concept with a classic twist, you exploring through long dungeons like a dungeon crawler, but at the same time give you the old school JRPG experience while drawing your own map. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is the series’ continuing attempt to try and bring back an enticing grind, mixed in with a unique concept of “don’t get lost, draw yourself a map”. However Etrian Odyssey IV has taken what the previous games have done and changed, added, and improved upon them to deliver a great playable experience.
The aim of the story within Etrian IV is not to be a specific named character saving the world, but that of a guild you have started from nothing. You start by recruiting various characters through a range of different classes, with each class allowing you a very minimal amount of customisation through their portrait image and by giving them a name. As you start levelling up your squad you are able to unlock more classes and you can start to micromanage your current characters to follow different play styles for each class. Mixing up the parties and placing them in the front or back allows for better strategic game play and the use of sub classing makes the game customisation even bigger.
The game’s story is a unique one in that you are not the centre piece of the game, but instead you are a band of players revolving around the ever changing and growing story. You are the right person for the job when it comes to the changes in the world and story, but you are not the fabled hero that the prophecy has been preaching. You are there at the right time with the right skills. To combat this disconnection with the story, player choices within the game are very important. Every choice you make in the game will affect your adventure; there is no illusion of choice in Etrian Odyssey IV but actual choice which makes a difference.
Dungeons this time around are much better than in the previous version; playing through dungeons will not make you feel so exhausted through it feeling all the same. The game’s difficulty level is still set too high but with the finely balanced character customisation and skills you will have a more interesting experience throughout the six different regions. Each of the areas has one main dungeon which will keep you playing for hours, but if you’re willing to explore even further there are smaller areas for you get your grind on.
Delving into dungeons is still an anxious experience, even with a well-balanced party at a decent level and stocked up with items; you will find yourself wanting to get through each level of the dungeon quickly to avoid some monstrous beings lurking in the dark. This gives the game a great sense of tension and excitement which makes the dungeon crawling a fun experience rather than a tedious one.
Etrian Odyssey IV is a very difficult game which can deter casual players. To make the game more assessable to the less hardcore players’ developers have added in a difficulty setting which can be changed at any time through the central town. This was the better choice over making the entire game easier. Even with the easier difficulties, it is still one of the most challenging games you will play. The game will force you to make sure you have a good party and use strategies which are out of the normal fight, heal, fight heal repeat which is in most RPGs. The game with its challenging gameplay is still fluid in the fact that grinding never feels like a chore and you are never penalised for losing.
Some of the minor improvements worth mentioning are resting a character rebuilds their skills by 2 instead of 10 and you no longer have to pay your hard earned cash to store items at the inn and forge weapon perks. The little changes have shown the developers wanting to take the game one step further and improve upon it rather than just pumping out another game. For the hardcore Etrian fan these little changes will be much more important.
Etrian IV is a great RPG and even better because you can play it on the go. It is a game which takes the problems from the previous three games and expands on them to make them work, solving issues and removing broken mechanics. Players of all skill levels can enjoy Etrian Odessy IV, unlike the first three games which homed more on hardcore grinders and RPG master players. If you have not tried the series before this is the game to start with.