Etrian Odyssey is an RPG series from Atlus (published by NIS in Europe) which pays homage to the Wizardry series of games; classic dungeon crawlers. Etrian Odyssey IV brings a lot of new features, ideas and improvements to the series and is probably the best yet. Read on for our review of the title…

So, to explain the basic plot to those who are joining the series for the first time, the game is based in Tharsis, a fictional city, which is ruled by Yggdrasil, a grand tree. A gang of people (you included) sign up to a request to find secrets about the city. The plot isn’t very strong, but that has never really been the focus of the Etrian Odyssey series, the game is really focused on some very fun dungeon crawling and battle action.

Etrian Odyssey IV allows the player control a group of five characters, each of which have unique skills and purposes. Each character can be built with a specific class, with each class being focused on different developed skills eg. fast attacks, strategic shooter or phsyically focused. Second class abilities can also be added at a later stage. This level of customisation really allows each player to develop a party of characters with abilities and purposes that suit their style of play and this system is definitely something the development team must have spent a long time refining.

The game allows you to travel the world map though an airship. The game has a huge environment, with multiple worlds being present within the main storyline. Each world has many secondary dungeons to explore, alongside a primary dungeon which houses most of the key items to progress within the game. The system allows you to travel between dungeons and worlds in search for items which will help boost your skills, keep you alive or allow you to explore new secrets. This can work very well if you cannot complete a dungeon; simply try another, boost your stats and return to rebattle that tough enemy. The system keeps the game interesting.

As always in the Etrian Odysee series, you must map the dungeons manually. This may sound boring, but for the most part, it is actually surprisingly fun. You must pay attention to detail, otherwise you may find yourself taking the wrong path through the dungeon and landing yourself in trouble, or, you may miss out on a valuable or useful item. The process is made simple, and again, adds more gameplay time to Etrian Odysee, and makes it a more unique dungeon crawling game.

Now, its time to talk about the combat. Etrian Odyssey IV can be very difficult for new players, due to a number of reasons, however, the developers have added an option which helps with progression for players who are stuck. Casual mode can be enabled at any time (and disabled) to reduce the difficulty of the game. One of the primary reasons that the game is challenging is the presence of FOE’s. These enemies are more powerful than any other creature in their area, but are visible on the map at all times. These enemies often carry very rare items, and award huge experience points for successful defeats, so, although difficult, you WILL want to prepare to have to kill them, rather than avoid them. They are a classic part of the Etrian Odyssey series, and prove to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of the game.

Combat is mainly focused on exploiting enemy weaknesses and using status effects (poison etc). The game offers a very simple battle interface, but don’t let that fool you, the techniques available to use are very advanced and customisable. It is very much focused on the player being strategic and optimising their party’s classes to work together in intuitive ways.

Etrian Odyssey is a fantastic RPG dungeon crawling gaming, and adds more great features to an already awesome series. If you are a fan of the series, or dungeon crawling games, you should definitely check it out. It is available on Amazon UK for £27.99, or in stores for approximately £34.99/€39.99.