In a market filled with RPGs, Etrian Mystery Dungeon seeks to do something a bit different and exciting for some, by adapting mechanics from indie rougelike that have been a popular part of the PC market as of late. Does the latest Etrian installment hold up? Find out below.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon
Reviewed: 3DS, 2DS, New 3DS (Review Copy Received)
Developer: ATLUS, Spike Chunsoft
Released: April 7, 2015 (Nintendo 3DS)
MSRP: $39.99 / CA$49.99 (Nintendo 3DS, 2DS, New 3DS)
Graphically, Etrian Mystery Dungeon plays to the strengths of the 3DS. Every character portrait and character model is vibrant and filled with color, with a small degree of customization; changing the based color scheme of their cloths, hair and accents as well as gender. This functionality helps players distinguish between duplicate classes they are making or leveling up, especially in late game where you will be leveling up multiple characters for use in your forts. A nice touch to detail is that weapons and shields all have different models. The character models are rather small, but effective in displaying detail.
Each dungeon has a good variation of color and theme, covering almost every biome you can think of within reason. The Biomes are not overly offensive when it comes to design, and are aimed at helping facilitate game play and at times come across as more functional than artistic in nature, rather than hitting that sweet spot in the middle.
The over world map and town are colorful, but are essentially a static images, serving as more of a background image to the menus. Once again, more functional than artistic, which some may find this boring while others will like the ease of use, and speed at which you can get into the action.
From first glance gameplay is extremely simple. Dungeons have you operating on a square grid map filled with monsters and traps, much like modern table top games. You control your party’s (up to 4 members) leader, which will allow you access to the characters full move set and movement options. Other characters go in to a “auto” mode, moving and attacking when monster are present, but you only have limited control over what they do, outside a few rare occasions of Blast Skills and Boss fights.
An immediate down sides to this overall system is that more often than not, you will get stuck battling with only the party leader, as a monster will see you and immediately block your walking path and start attacking. There are only a few options to rectify this and they are almost none existent or usable in the late game. Combine that with the number of monster thrown at the player, it makes many battles at the end of the game rather tedious.
Character skill development is not only easy to use but extremely flexible, giving players a great deal to play with when it comes to making unique skill sets. Combine this with the unique qualities of each class, and you will find there is something for everyone, and lots of room to test. This is really valuable as you will be leveling and gearing many heroes to man your forts and to server as a backup team just in case your main team ends up dying in battle.
There are many roguelike elements to the game, such as maps that are procedurally generated, loss of items/money on death, and item bonuses that increase damage. These elements work rather well in the game and give a weight to every lost fight.
Quests will most likely consume most of each individuals time, giving unique objectives to complete while you are traveling through each dungeon. The rewards can vary greatly and are not generally based around RPG grinding, opting to be easily finished if you are just going through the story missions.
In general, this game has a massive amount of content, and that does not include the DLC that will be released. Completionists will have their hands full, especially if they choose to explore every room in a since dungeon come late game.
Music and Sound:
The music in in this game is always on the mark, being enjoyable to listen to but not over bearing. That said it is not reaching for new territory or striving to be extraordinary, instead being a nice accent to the journey. It is recommended to get a physical edition with the CD sound track if possible if you enjoy nice scenery music, to accompany you throughout your day. The music does a nice job matching the overall theme and style. The overall sound effects are functional but nothing stands out in that respect.
This was a real missed opportunity to expand on a whole universe. Over all, the story is extremely flat and is only meant to get you from point A to point B. There are so many interesting characters presented to the player, it is a shame they rarely expand on them. On the bright side it is easy to follow and not all over the place.
Everything in this game works rather well together. I find the music in each area has a nice rhythm and flow , making it easy to spend allot of time within the Dungeons. Despite being very thin, the story pairs well with the overall ideas and themes of the game. Gameplay does have its hick ups but does not break the Cohesiveness of the overall game.