By William Haderlie / March 1st, 2019
Instead of focusing on one character, the Etrian Odyssey series has always focused on your guild as a whole. As such, your entire party is the character, and you will need to balance them in strategic ways in order to take full advantage of the difficult labyrinth challenges. Even more than the dungeons and enemies (and later on, other human empires), the class system in this game is the true culmination of the series. There is only 1 new class, the Hero, but all 18 classes from the series past have returned to the game; Protector, Medic, Survivalist, Ronin, War Magus, Highlander, Gunner, Sovereign, Ninja, Zodiac, Farmer, Shogun, Landsknecht, Nightseeker, Arcanist, Imperial, Pugilist, and Harbinger. That gives, by far, the most wide array of class combinations in the series history. Add on to the primary class selection to the fact that you will (early on) gain the ability to subclass into any of the other classes, and that will make your party combination a fun but daunting decision.
The series has changed over the years, particularly when it comes to Force Boost and Force Break (basically consider them like Limit Breaks from Final Fantasy games), and as a result they have altered the classes quite a bit to take advantage of the new systems. There are some massively overpowered combinations as a result, but in my opinion that is a good thing for a series finale. The challenge is still there if you want to raise up the difficulty option (which can be changed any time you are in town for all but the highest difficulty, Heroic), and you can always choose to bring in class combinations that aren’t quite so devastating. But, personally I love finding OP combinations and taking full advantage of them. So for my run through the game I used a Hero/Protector, Imperial/Zodiac, Pugilist/Shogun, War Magus/Harbinger, and Zodiac/Sovereign. For anyone who knows the classes, that is a disturbingly powerful set of characters and by the end of the game I was doing up to 40,000 damage in a single round.
The greatest hits design of the game also applies to the many NPCs that you interact with in the game. The shopkeepers are all some of the most interesting in the series, and the ones you meet out in the dungeons are by far the best. As a result, when it comes time for them to join with you due to story reasons there is a lot more emotional impact than I’ve ever felt in a previous game in the series. In addition to being written well, they also have good voice acting and a surprising amount of it considering it’s a 3DS game. Some people may not like that the voice acting is entirely in Japanese, but I consider that to be a feature, not a bad thing. It adds to the overall charm of the game. Additionally charming is the music that takes many of the themes throughout the series and remixes them to make this the best soundtrack of the series overall. All the character designs are just as strong as they always are, and the new monsters (especially the FOEs and bosses) are especially cool.
There are literally no complaints I have with this game. It combines all my favorite parts of a series that I love and make them even better. For those of us who have followed the series since its inception, this feels like a love letter from the developers to us. Of course, if this is your first game in the series, there is still a lot here to recommend. But you are going to miss out on some of the brutal difficulty and many of the references and call backs throughout the game. That being said, I can still recommend this to anyone who is interested in drawing your own maps (with some handy recent tools that help auto-map some) and who is interested in a difficult (but fair) combat with strategic character builds. This game took me 80 hours to beat on Expert and an extra 20 hours to beat the final labyrinth and two bonus dungeons that unlock after you roll credits. You also have the option of New Game+ in which you can choose to carry over your whole Guild with all the items and maps that you want (other than story items). So even that 100 hours can be dwarfed by how much long term content you can take advantage of. The $39.99 retail price seems paltry compared to the amount of content you get, and at this quality. This is very likely to be my favorite RPG of the year, and we already have a strong contender for my Game of the Year. Oftentimes as a part of the gaming press we set aside a review game and never come back to it. But there is no way that is going to happen with Etrian Odyssey Nexus for me. I cannot wait to go through the game again with an all new crazy party combination. A Farmer as my main tank and a Nightseeker as my main healer? It’s possible. This entry isn’t just the last of the series, but it’s the best. Hopefully we can have another entry eventually, in whatever form that takes.
Review Copy Was Provided By The Publisher
Pages: 1 2AtlusDungeon CrawlerEtrian OdysseyEtrian Odyssey NexusJRPGNew Nintendo 3DS XLNintendo