Etrian Odyssey Nexus Review — The Root Of All Things


Iit’s actually difficult to know how many Etrian Odyssey games we’ve received on the 3DS at this point, but there’s a really good reason the series is sticking to the dual-screen handheld all this time. Its unique focus on map-making and player-driven dungeon exploration, which has roots squarely in old-school pen-and-paper RPGs, demands a dual-screen setup. This is a tailor-made franchise for the DS family. It is therefore normal that, as the 3DS finally prepares to roll into the sunset, Etrian Odyssey is here to see it with a game that is the highlight of the franchise so far, and a title that could represent the best release of the series to date.

Etrian Odyssey Nexus, while being a best-of in the series, it actually avoids a lot of things. No more airship segments from Etrian Odyssey 4, no more fantasy lessons Etrian Odyssey 5, and the narration prescribed in the Etrian Odyssey Untold the games are also gone. But on that latter front, it’s been replaced with a form of in-game storytelling that’s arguably best for the type of gaming experience. Etrian Odyssey seeks to deliver.

See, you’re out of cutscenes or big setup or whatever. At first glance, the setup is disappointing in reduction: assemble a party of adventurers (tailor-made) and set out to uncover the secrets of Yggdrasil, as well as the islands of Lemuria. However, the game slowly tells its story to the player via events and NPC dialogue in the dungeons as you explore, slowly adding more flavor and framing context to the world you explore, while also giving the player of the choices to be made in the moment. This is a great way to keep the story ambiguous and in some ways player-focused, and in many ways echo the kind of storytelling you’d expect from it. Souls—minimal dialogue at strategic points, and a few crucial choices, to shape the amorphous mass of ambiguity that otherwise attracts you tantalizingly (though not necessarily well done, obviously).

Etrian Odyssey Nexus

“The game slowly tells its story to the player via events and NPC dialogue in the dungeons as you explore, slowly adding more flavor and framing context to the world you explore, while still giving the player choices to be made in the moment. It’s a great way to keep the story ambiguous and, in some ways, player-focused. “

Etrian Odyssey gamers are also probably well aware that games emphasize player choice in a number of other ways. Take, for example, the makeup of your party. As already specified, your party is a guild of custom characters. You have to choose five characters and give them lessons (out of an absurd total of 19), then set off with them to trawl the labyrinths. Here everything matters: which class you chose, which character you chose (you can have more than five characters in your guild, only five in your party at a time), where you place said characters in your combat formation, the all. Choosing the right characters for your party isn’t enough to ensure you have a well-rounded constitution capable of dealing with all the dangers that dungeons can throw at you, even when you choose to place your characters in a two-row formation. during battles can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Things get crazier later when subclasses are introduced, giving another dimension of choice not just in how you choose to develop a character, but the role they are meant to play in battles.

The battles themselves are simplistic matters, relatively speaking. This is standard turn-based business, although it can be tricky, especially if you’re unprepared. Planning only takes you halfway – you also need to be prepared for multiple eventualities. The Force Boost and Force Break mechanics of Incalculable 2 make a comeback here, adding yet another layer of risk and reward management to the process

The battles themselves are just one type of danger that dungeons throw at you, and it’s the dungeons that are the star of the show here. They start out relatively simplistic, although they are a bit long for those who aren’t prepared or don’t know how. Etrian Odyssey does things, but over time they grow up to become sprawling and labyrinthine webs, with a unique aesthetic and atmosphere, multiple gadgets scattered over their floors, dangers, enemies, secrets, paths of branch, loot and treasures, events, etc.

etrian odyssey nexus

“These are the dungeons which are the meat and bones of Etrian Odyssey experience, and in Link, these are the best they’ve ever been on the show. “

These are the dungeons that are the meat and bones of the Etrian Odyssey experience, and in Link, these are the best they’ve ever been on the show. The game also makes multiple concessions in an attempt to appeal to newcomers. Etrian Odyssey puts you in a first person perspective and lets you explore dungeons, and Map them as you go on the bottom screen, requiring you to mark paths, walls, hazards, loot, and more. (this is also where all the dependence on two screens comes from). There is a thrill in this manual mapping which is akin, for example, to gradually removing the fog of war from a map in a strategy game, or to discovering the entire map in a Metroidvanie, but it’s more personal here, because your card is your map — it’s uniquely yours, guided by your experiences, preferences, trends, and priorities.

However, the focus on making maps has always been the most alienating aspect of the series for newcomers, and the series tried to meet players during the mid-years. Link does this too – there is an auto mapping feature that takes care of most of the mapping for you, letting you note points of interest and the like (which makes this mapping system most similar to Breath of the wild) which you can subscribe to if you wish. Series veterans will likely choose to stick with manual map making.

This kind of range of options is ultimately what Etrian Odyssey Nexus is by the way, which is fitting, as it’s meant to be a celebration of the series so far. Atlus has hinted that the franchise will live on and move to the Switch, and that’s great, but even if it does, it’s going to change significantly, as he will no longer have access to a second persistent screen. Which means it just might be Etrian Odyssey‘s final hurray, at least as we know it. While part of that party feeling can be toned down by the franchise’s sheer weariness (as mentioned before, there is a parcel of Etrian Odyssey games on the 3DS), overall, Link does an excellent job of inaugurating his series, as well as the material to which he is indebted for all this time.

This game has been tested on Nintendo 3DS.

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