I love milkshakes.
I know they’re not necessarily the healthiest treat option available to me, so I try not to drink them too often. However, when I get my hands on one, I am relentless and guzzle it up, usually to the point that my wife has to tell me to stop making disgusting sounds as I suck the straw like an addict trying to get just one last tiny hit from his crack pipe.
The Etrian Odyssey IV demo is kind of like that.
I have tasted every last bit of what it has to offer and am starving for more. Atlus was generous to provide such a meaty demo, but in a sense, they were also a little cruel. If anyone takes the time needed to build a party of adventurers, traverse through and map out every square inch of the available labyrinths, level up their characters to the max that is allotted in the demo, and complete all offered quests, they are going to find it very hard to wait a couple more weeks to continue their journey into all that Etrian Odyssey IV has to offer.
For those who don’t want to bother downloading the demo and experiencing for themselves what the game is all about, here’s a quick primer: It is a first-person dungeon crawler that employs a plodding pace, steep difficulty, and comparatively primitive graphics. It also features an interesting variety of characer classes to choose from, a wealth of abilities to bestow upon characters as they level up, and a captivating soundtrack by acclaimed composer Yuzo Koshiro.
The Etrian Odyssey series is not for everyone, and I’m sure there are plenty of individuals who would find it boring and unappealing, but I think it is absolutely amazing. If you can put in the time needed to truly appreciate any of the Etrian Odyssey games, I’m confident you’ll discover them to be satisfying and addicting.
There really hasn’t been a drastic change to the basic gameplay present in the three previous games, which essentially involves making one’s way through dungeons, mapping the path along the way, fighting lots of monsters, leveling up characters and buying better gear, killing more monsters, and so forth. As someone who loves the Etrian Odyssey series, I don’t ncessarily see the similarities as a bad thing, but it’s worth noting that other than some streamlining and refinements, the developers seem to follow an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. In this latest installment, there are new character classes that make things feel fresh, including one of my new favorites, the tank-like Fortress. But, beyond that, casual observers will be hard-pressed to find much that separates IV from its predecessors.
That’s not to say there aren’t immediate differences that long-time fans will take note of right off the bat. For instance, the backdrop graphics are definitely improved from the DS games, and the enemies are polygonal models versus static drawings, while the stereoscopic 3D effect of the 3DS provides some immersive depth in the dungeons.
The music now has a more orchestrated sound, which I’m torn on because while I love it, I miss the more nostiaglic feel of the previous games’ “retro” instrumentations in the compositions.
Perhaps most notable of all is that the new overworld tasks players to travel around in an airship, collecting goods to sell, meeting up with other travelers, and fighting monstrous beasts. I think it’s a welcome improvement over Etrian Odyssey III’s seafaring overworld, and I can’t wait to see what new areas my craft will be able to fly to.
*The demo for Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is available free via the Nintendo 3DS eShop, with a retail and digital download release hitting on February 26th, 2013.