Nintendo DS : Etrian Odyssey Reviews

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Below are user reviews of Etrian Odyssey and on the right are links to professionally written reviews. The summary of review scores shows the distribution of scores given by the professional reviewers for Etrian Odyssey. Column height indicates the number of reviews with a score within the range shown at the bottom of the column. Higher scores (columns further towards the right) are better.

Summary of Review Scores

Game Spot 78
GamesRadar 70
CVG 80
IGN 74
GameZone 71
1UP 80

User Reviews (1 - 11 of 24)

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A very fun, old school RPG!!

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 28 / 28
Date: May 25, 2007
Author: Amazon User

Nowadays, RPGs tend to lead you by the hand, almost as if you're being babysat or something. They lead you on a set path with linear progression, and all of them try to WOW you with flashy graphics and stuff like that. Back in the days of games like Wizardry, there was no such thing as that. You were free to explore the world with little to no guidance and you can take on any missions or quests you wanted. This is the core gameplay element of Etrian Odyssey, a new RPG from the good folks at Atlus that focuses on the good old days, even going as far as making the game have a first person perspective. Can an old school RPG actually be good in this day and age?
There's not much of a story here in Etrian. The only thing you really have to know is that you are a group of guys in a clan who set off to gain riches and recognition. Essentially, you gain recognition by going through quests and missions. So, essentially, the story is really just a minority in this game, which in this case, is fine.
The primarily in Etrian Odyssey is obviously the gameplay. When you first start up, you end up creating your own party. That's right! There is NO set party in Etrian. You chose a name for each character, and you choose the class and what is the character image. There are a total of four character images per class (two male, two female) and there is up to 9 different character classes to choose from, which totals 36 character possibilities. The customization doesn't really end there. As you gain levels, you're able to choose what skills the characters will learn using the skill points you earn. Some skills are necessary to learn other skills, and some of them actually let you do attributes outside of battle, like healing, mining, and the like. So, the possibilities here are almost endless.
During battle, it's a traditional turn based system, of which you select whether to attack, defend, use an item or skill, boost up your stats, or run away from battle altogether. Be forewarned, though, as the enemies in this game are relentless. If you want to have any chance in this game, you have to constantly level up by gaining experience from defeating enemies, learning the right skills, manage your money by selling the items that the enemies drop, and equipping good weapons and armor, this game will give you a good whipping. You also must know when to advance to the next floor of the labyrinth or not. Unless you know you're ready, forget it. You are aloud up to five characters to take out at a time, and you are free to customize your party, but make sure it's a party that is actually good.
You also have to map out your progress. There is no set map at all, and you use the bottom screen to map your progress in the labyrinth. You use it to mark the path, dead ends, treasure, events, and the like. No enemies appear if you're not moving, so you can just stop and map out your progress without worrying about encounters. You can also move and map at the same time, but you run a risk of running into enemies as you map. You can also map during battles as well, since the battles are controlled with the D-pad and buttons. Mapping out your progress helps you out a lot. Plus, since there's no real linear progression, feel free to explore to your heart's content.
Finally, there are the missions and quests you take on. Unlike most RPGs these days, there is no set quest or mission. You actually choose which ones you like to take on when you're in the town. This freedom of choice gives it more legs, and you can actually tackle more than one quest at a time. When you start playing this, you start to wonder why more RPGs these days don't offer this kind of freedom.
Presentation-wise, it's not really that much. The labyrinth itself is done in 3D, and it actually looks pretty lively for a DS game. If you look closely, you can actually see some background effects, like flowers swaying and such. The rest of the graphics are done using 2D artwork with little animation. You view the labyrinth through a first person perspective which actually helps you seeing through the game with your own eyes. In the audio front, the music has a very good charm and also has a bit of a retro flavor, which actually helps it to give off its old school style. There are barely any sound effects, however. There is also no voice over, whatsoever. What's there is appropriate, though, so it does get the job done. To be honest, it's not really trying to get you in with its presentation.
Etrian Odyssey, which must be said, is really not for everyone. RPG gamers who remember the days of Wizardry and other games like it are more likely to get the most out of it. It's also appealing for those who like to be more part of the experience instead of being just a guided character in a story. Everyone else should probably try it first to see if it's your cup of tea. To be honest, I really loved this one, and I suggest you give it a shot.

The best Handheld RPG I have ever played.

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 27 / 29
Date: May 27, 2007
Author: Amazon User

Etrian Odyssey is an amazing game... If you like Old School RPG's than stop reading and get this game.(old school= i.e. Wizardry, Bards Tale.)
I actually bought my DS Lite just to play this game and am glad I did.
The depth of the dungeon is staggering for any system and especially so on a hand-held system.
You make your own maps of the dungeon with the styles on the bottom screen and the action happens on the top. I have been playing for about 20 hours and I would estimate I am about half done.
The game is tough, but not in a cheap way.

-You can use any combination of 9 classes in your 5 person party.
-Side quests are interesting and varied.
-The dungeon areas are very different with hundreds monsters and items.
-The story is really interesting
-Freedom in general; to do what you want...
-Great art style

-Could be too hard for some people (Challenge is a good thing)

In my 25 years of playing RPG's, Etrian Odyssey is in my top 3 and it's the best one on the DS! Atlus please bring the sequel to the USA...

Old-School Gaming + New Twists = Lots of Fun!

4 Rating: 4, Useful: 22 / 22
Date: July 09, 2007
Author: Amazon User

Since my reviews tend to be a little long-winded, I'll short-form it for you here: if you're looking for an old-school (say early `90s) RPG you can take on the go and have as much fun with for twenty minutes as you can for two hours at a stretch, and you don't need flashy graphics, sound, or story, buy this game! I was very cautious about getting it after it was suggested as a "You Might Also Like" during an Amazon.com search, especially after having been quite disappointed with FF III on the DS, but I have not been able to put this down since I got it. It looks like Amazon has rescinded its "more on the way" message, but I found a ton of these at J & R (jandr.com) and Gamestop, so try there if you can't get it here.
Now for the in-depth version: if you like the level design of Wizardry VI or VII combined with the battle engine of Dragon Quest II, all done up with the graphics of Phoenix Wright, you will love Etrian Odyssey. This may sound like a slam or a backhanded compliment, but really it's not. EO takes an old-school approach to RPGs and adds some clever updates to the formula. While the game won't wow you with cutting-edge graphics, dramatic voiceovers, or epic, involving story lines (EO has none of these), it has all the addictiveness of a Vegas slot machine, because it offers so many opportunities for rewards, starting off with some quick character enhancements and easily accomplished quests, and ramping up to missions that may take hours or even days to complete. This isn't a game where the player gets lost in the realm of the senses, this is a hardcore gaming experience that takes RPGs back to the basics of character classes and unique enemy types, skill development, and hard choices about what style of gameplay you want to emphasize (all-out attack, defensive with lots of healing, or a balance of the two), yet still manages to throw in some new twists that really keep things fresh.
One of the major innovations in EO - in fact, the one which makes it unique among RPGs today - is the mapping feature. Now, obviously, any of you who have played games like M&M I through V know, an in-game map is nothing new. What sets the mapping in EO apart from all other RPGs is that you have to draw it yourself - and the game provides the interface to do so! Say goodbye to those loose sheets of graph paper and smudged, illegible pencil scratches, because EO allows you to create and save maps of the levels on the touch screen! In fact, in order to be able to progress beyond the first level, the player is required to map out a portion of the labyrinth in a nifty little tutorial that seamlessly blends into the gameplay. At first, this takes a little getting used to, but once you figure out what all the symbols should be used to represent, it really works, and the DS' touch screen and stylus could not be better suited to the task. The game includes an optional auto-mapping feature that paints a flat, pale-blue square for every square of the labyrinth you've stepped on, but you have to draw in the walls, stairs (up or down), Events, treasure boxes, traps, and items yourself. You can even append these icons with short memos that will appear in the world view screen when you step on the square in the labyrinth represented by the icon, or tap on the Memo icon with the stylus on the touch screen. On top of all that, you can even erase mistakes - without all those messy pink eraser scraps to clean up!
Another of the innovations I really appreciated was the setup of shops and advancement of items available. Instead of finding money (or Gold, or Gil, or what have you) on the corpses of slain enemies, you sometimes find items, like Butterfly Wings, or Soft Hide, or Metal Horn. You then take these items to the shopkeeper and sell them to her; occasionally, the items you've sold will allow her to create new, more useful items. Sometimes it's just a matter of selling enough of a common item, but more often it's selling her the rare items that allows her to create the really good weapons, armor, etc. The rate at which this occurs is very nicely ramped, since the further you explore, the more difficult the enemies you encounter, the better items they leave, and the better equipment and accessories the shopkeeper can make from them. As an added element of depth, some of the items are required to complete quests, but you don't want to sell them until after you've received the quest - it makes for a nice conundrum: do I wait for the quest that will require these items and slog my way through with what I've got, or do I sell them, get the better equipment, and hope I can find these items later?
Another innovation is the way in which you customize your characters. At the very start of the game, the only difference between, say, a warrior (Landsknecht) and a wizard (Alchemist) is their stats and what they can equip - they both start with a knife and a tunic and no skills to speak of. To be able to have the wizard cast spells, you have to spend an Experience Point on the class of spell you want him to cast (Fire, Ice, Volt, Poison), and then you have to spend an Experience Point on the spell you want him to learn. Then, if you want the spell to do more damage, you have to keep spending EPs on that spell. In addition to the usual, expected abilities like healing spells, damage spells, increased attack damage, and the like, there are a host of other skills that particular classes can learn, including those that decrease the rate of chance encounters, weapon-specific attacks that also inflict ailments or damage spells on the enemy, sharp-shooting, multiple-hit attacks, etc. Abilities exist in a hierarchy, with some skills requiring the acquisition (and sometimes leveling up) of other, related skills before they can be learned. Each class has 21 abilities to learn - most of them unique to that class - with a cap Level of 10 each, but you are limited to 102 EPs per character (you start at Level 1 with three, and can only level up to 100, for an additional 99 EPs), so you must choose to mold your character as either a jack-of-all-trades type or a supreme master of only a few skills. Combined with the availability of nine classes and the freedom to put any number of each class in your party of (up to) five, this makes for a great deal of flexibility and individuality in gameplay.
To sum it up, EO is simply a great game to take along when you're stuck on the bus for a half hour, or the power goes out and you can't play the latest hi-res blockbuster Final Fantasy on the PS9 via your HD TV. Short of a more mindless handheld game like Lumines or Tetris, it's the most fun you can have in short bursts (or long sessions) that doesn't require a huge investment of time, skill, or attention...which is exactly what a portable game should be.
(I've put in some tips for the first set of levels in the Comments section; note that much of what is there could be considered spoilers, though not in the sense of story, since there really is none.)

Nod to the old school

4 Rating: 4, Useful: 22 / 24
Date: June 01, 2007
Author: Amazon User

Etrian Odyssey is as old school as it comes when thinking of the RPG's and dungeon crawlers of the past, and in this case that's not such a bad thing after all. At first glance it seems like a simple, tried and true, turn based RPG, but once you get deep into the core gameplay of Etrian Odyssey, you'll see it for what it really is. The game offers some incredibly challenging gameplay elements as you tackle the usual RPG settings, particularly labyrinths. Not to mention that the various abilities of you and your party are just begging to be tinkered with, which also provides a great deal of fun and challenge as well. What really makes Etrian Odyssey worth checking out is the great use that the game makes of the DS' dual screens, touch screen, and stylus. The mapping interface used with the touch screen and stylus is inventive and helps set the game apart from the recent flood of RPG's to hit the DS, along with the overall atmosphere and charming graphics as well. The only real downsides of Etrian Odyssey are the same problems that plague many RPG's: there is far too much back tracking involved in your lengthy quest, and when I say lengthy, I mean lengthy. The game offers a long and satisfying story and quest, but the game's steep learning curve and difficulty may put off some gamers. Despite it's few flaws though, Etrian Odyssey is a real treat for longtime and hardcore RPG or dungeon crawler addicts that own a DS, and it is definitely worth picking up.

Engaging in its Simplicity, almost primitive.

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 14 / 14
Date: June 01, 2007
Author: Amazon User

This game is exhilarating because it is genuinely hard. You worry when going deeper into the dungeon. It's hard because you have to manage your fighting resources, avoid the minibosses, play tactically against opponents, use money wisely. Experience is hard earned. Diversity is prized. Some people will be turned off that they can't "run and gun" their way to a boss or miniboss and reveal that next cutscene; the pace is slow, and the story is light compared to modern RPGs.

Etrian Odyssey has a simple, primitive game structure. There is the town and there is the dungeon. You can only save in town. There are only 5 NPCs you talk to and only 3 of them do you talk to frequently; the innkeeper (who heals you and saves), the quest giver and the blacksmith.

In the dungeon combat is likened to final fantasy 1-5; Your turn, theirs, then resolve the actions based on character stat speed priority. FF1-5 was 10-15 years ago. The uncertainty of who will act next, do you have the priority to heal him after he gets attacked so I don't overheal, is a throwback to that generation of RPGs. You'll find yourself wondering, could he survive another hit? will the enemy do an aoe or one hit kill someone unless I choose to defend? can I get this kill before he attacks?

Maddening at times, but the diversity of the character skills and the choice of 9 (7 at first) classes means the game can be played differently with a different set of worries. Like when you chose jobs of FF3.

You will die, you will find yourself running for reasons other than not wanting to deal with lvl 1 trash encounter, you will be broke, you will not be able to complete a quest immediately, you will have to traverse a dangerous landscape back to save, but you will enjoy it, all in the name of exploring this beautiful and memorable dungeon.

Simply a Must-Buy for Dungeoneers Everywhere

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 8 / 9
Date: July 24, 2007
Author: Amazon User

Quite the compelling dungeon crawl, and the first such game since Bard's Tale (from the days of the Commodore 64) that has managed to hook me with that "just one more task" style of fevered gameplay. The downside is that those who do not or cannot appreciate the gaming embodied by classics like Bard's Tale or Wizardry will find Etrian Odyssey overly nostalgic in tone.

"Grinding" characters through level advancement is largely a natural outgrowth of exploration and rarely a chore forced on the player. As noted elsewhere, the gameworld is quite varied in most dimensions -- monsters, dungeons, items, characters, and quests -- and only rarely does one encounter lulls where new aspects to one or many of these aren't revealed. Tight coupling of game mechanics (reaching a new dungeon level usually unlocks new side quests, returning the spoils of conquest to town similarly unlocks new wares to equip), an air of uncertainty concerning what's around the next corner (hidden requirements for item unlocking, a limit on up-front monster information), and a great deal of choice in party management (branching skill trees for characters, a diversity of rarely overlapping base classes larger than full party size) all combine in a wonderful fashion.

Etrian Odyssey balances freedom of exploration with plot fulfillment in a way that produces a game that is more challenging than usual fare but rarely to the extent where one wants to throw the DS across the room in disgust. Players with a "if it moves, it must be slain" mentality will find themselves hung up in a number of places, as it's a frequent occurrence for difficult monsters to be placed on patrol to encourage side-stepping encounters until one's party is truly up to the challenge.

Graphics are crisp and well executed, and realms are nicely differentiated visibly (and in some cases audibly) from one another. Although a dungeon crawl, level design is at times rather inventive for the genre, introducing mechnics that go beyond "another corridor, another room" layout. By and large, controls are intuitive and contextually sound, with dungeon mapping proving to be more than a sales gimmick. An unexpected touch is that one can actually manipulate the map screen at the same time as they are going about the rounds in town or facing off in battle.

All in all, there's really not much to fault the game for, with the exception of a few detail-oriented issues.

There's at least one side quest that a ridiculous bore for a handheld game (spend five game days on a given dungeon level), but isn't required to complete the game. Mapping works well, though the simplicity of design falls short in a few cases: one level truly requires more icons than allowed by memory constraints and at times it's difficult to fit textual annotations in the space allotted. Item management handles inventory overflow well, but the lack of choice to drop excess when harvesting dungeon resources or looting chests is strangely absent compared to post-battle handling. The ability to refer to item and monster codices while "in dungeon" is also sorely missed, but for the most part can be overcome by those with good memories. Similarly, greater detail for side quests would help casual adventurers a bit, as often relevant information is provided only at the time a quest is accepted and later unavailable through the outstanding quest menu.

On the whole, the game engine and plotting is relatively bug-free, with only a couple non-essential side quests suffering from the occasional hiccup in execution. In all cases where this was the case, it appeared to relate to a timing issue where events were triggered prematurely (presumably out of order) but never in a way that prevented successful completion.

Minus these small gripes, this is one of the few titles for the Nintendo DS (along with Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords) that CRPGers simply must experience for themselves. Really, it's that good at what it aims to achieve as a game.

Tedious timewaster

3 Rating: 3, Useful: 7 / 10
Date: August 13, 2007
Author: Amazon User

I'm middle-aged, male, and a lifelong gamer. I've forgotten more games than most people ever learn how to play. I love RPGs in particular and have played many easy and hard RPGs through to completion. I can honestly say, this is the worst RPG that I've ever bothered to finish.

I see a lot of glowing reviews by gushing fans. I'm glad you enjoyed the game. I might have loved it a few decades ago, but it's sub-par by today's standards. The graphics are cutting edge circa 1987 -- 2D sprites that shake when you hit them in combat. Combat is menu-driven and slow. Worse, like many old school RPGs, combat surprises you out of nowhere unavoidably, and is completely repetitive and mind-numbingly boring. What I wouldn't give for an auto-combat option! The maze is likewise repetitive and dull. While there are hundreds of pieces of equipment you can use, they all feel precisely the same, they just flash larger numbers on the screen. Quests don't correctly remind you what you need to do, so you'll either have to take notes or consult a FAQ if you forget. The plot is linear and completely predictable. The game makes no use of touchscreen features aside from drawing a map, which is only required in 2 places. (You can't use the stylus for menus, inventory, etc.)

But it's not all bad. I did find the game compelling enough to continue playing. I enjoy a good timewaster now and again, and there aren't a plethora of excellent DS RPGs. I particularly enjoyed the music, and I have to admit I enjoyed mapping the game myself rather than using an automap, at least for the first 10 hours or so. But I only finished the game because of a mildly compulsive nature, not because I loved it. I didn't recommend this game to any of my RPG-playing friends.

You can enjoy this game, but know what you're getting into first. It's long, it's tedious, it's repetitive, and it can be hard at times. There are no huge adrenaline rushes or major plot twists. Also, I have some recommendations that might improve your gameplay experience:
* Don't overlevel! It makes the game profoundly boring.
* Hold down A to go faster through combat.
* Invest heavily in the skill that reduces combat frequency.
* Skip past the FOEs and come back later, otherwise you'll overlevel.
* Don't expect a 5-star game and you'll enjoy it more.

Atlus Again, Doing What It Does Best

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 4 / 5
Date: June 13, 2007
Author: Amazon User

A classic RPG set in the first person mode (like Counterstrike or any other FPS). Atlus owns the DS in uniqueness.

I'll admit, I don't get stuck to a particular game for a very long period of time, mainly because I don't have the time to devote to it. While the same goes for Etrian Odyssey, I could tell immediately that this was a well made game, probably the most intricately designed game for the DS.

The same day I walked into EB Games to buy Naruto (which I later decided against and bought Izuna instead), I picked up Etrian Odyssey, simply because I had never heard of it. I love doing that, but it's disappointed me very many times.

Fortunately, Etrian Odyssey did not. RPG fans, this game has it all: good storyline, good character development, slow and deliberate character building through the classic EXP system, a very intricately designed dungeon system, mages, warriors, bards, rogues, archers... It's got it all.

While I haven't ventured far enough to discover any personal dislikes for the game or any cons to the overall value of the game, it's definitely not for everybody. In the same way some people prefer Crazy Taxi over a Final Fantasy game, Etrian will find a distinct fan base, but I have to highly stress that it will most likely not disappoint.

$29.99 like most other Atlus releases, it's worth every penny to those that are interested in a fresh new DS RPG that's new on the shelves.

Etrian Odyssey, aka Yggdrasil Labyrinth

4 Rating: 4, Useful: 2 / 2
Date: July 24, 2007
Author: Amazon User

Formerly known as Yggdrasil Labyrinth, Etrian Odyssey is a very challenging, completely turn-based RPG. Think of it as an old-school RPG, but stripped down to its elements. There is very little story and your party characters have no distinguishing features except for their job class and character portrait, which you pick from 4 possible designs. Don't expect interesting environments--there are 5 different environments, which change every five floors you go through the dungeon. They're 3-D and quite pretty for a DS game, but extremely repetitive. They're really just a background.

It's worth mentioning that although the game is ridiculously hard on the first floor, it gradually gets easier as you progress, although it's never as easy as most modern RPGs.

If, like me, you thought Final Fantasy III (the best RPG available on the DS currently) was fairly easy, then you should be able to enjoy Etrian Odyssey despite its difficulty.

Seems like the old times, but not quite as good.

4 Rating: 4, Useful: 2 / 3
Date: June 21, 2007
Author: Amazon User

This game is a breath of fresh air. I started playing RPGs way back on the commodore64. Legacy of the Ancients anyone? I was and am a true Bards Tale fan. The story lines were very in depth and the control you had over the developement of your characters was intense. You were never really dragged on a leash from one setting to the next. Though you usually got your rear handed to you if you tried an area way to tough. And not to mention the fact that graph paper was a must, or you would spend some time trying to get out of dungeons. Even if you had a kick butt team, getting lost in a labrynth was just no fun.

I remember how I hated how different asian RPGs were in comparison to american. When I was that kid looking for a C64 game and getting a nintendo version I was dissapointed. Though I have learned to love them of late.

So Etrian Odyssey tried to bring back some of that old flavore, and for the most part has. But the big thing here is they brought SOME of that old flavour. I still feel that a lot more that could have been put into this game to give it perfection. The biggest let down being the non-story line. What story there is is very sparse. And has to do with "We don't know what the bottom looks like". And a couple of jobs to complete on the side. Like "This kid is dying and wants to see a lvl 20 guy before then". Or get this holy water and come back, please.

What you are left with is a complete dungeon crawl. And hey I like that. But not everyone will. I've read the reviews and though I've never played wizardry, I am a fan of the oldies. So for those of you who remember those games and, well, have time to waste. This is a game for you. But this is by know means a Riviera: the promised land, or final fantasy 12.

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