3 Reviews

Etrian Odyssey

Cartography, semi-instant death and running away. What's not to love?

US Import: Kim's got an arrow lodged in her eye, Andy's applying medicinal balm to Chrissy's mole-gnawed elbows. And Greener's throwing down morale boosting beats in the corner.

Only this isn't the Team NGamer you know and love, but a team of adventurers seeking the treasures deep within the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. A colossal organic structure, the labyrinth has sprouted out of nowhere offering strata after strata of turn-based battle adventurin'. We gave our adventurers NGamer names simply for convenience and a mildly amusing opening sentence.

Unlike FF3, Etrian Odyssey is bereft of predetermined characters (and, sadly, the same level of visual polish). They're crafted from the off, the concept being that you can create a guild's-worth of figures to employ when others lay mangled. Kittsy, for example, is a Landsknecht, an axe-wielding berserker type best placed on one of the front lines (you have two) with defensive Protectors. Archers (Kim) skip happily between them, while pansy-ish Troubadours, la Greener, are best kept back to inspire others with mad mandolin skillz.


It's a maze - zing!
With your newly-formed band, you enter the labyrinth. And you die. Most likely at the hand/wing of a butterfly. Like Lost in Blue, this is no quest to be taken lightly. A proper day-by-day slug, you spend as much time legging it to the entrance as you do breaking new ground. But day-by-day you grow stronger, wiser, craftier.

Using the touch screen you slowly etch out a map of the labyrinth, noting 'here be beasts', and slowly learning to defeat the hedgy git.

Etrian Odyssey is so, so far from all-guns-blazing action that it makes chess look like the brainchild of John Woo Red Bull-ed up to his eyeballs. Seasoned dungeon crawlers - forged in the heat of games like Wizardry and Eye of the Beholder - are going to love it.

It's just you and the labyrinth in Etrian Odyssey, and there's no narrative preventing you from carving out your own journey. It's tough, sure, but you'll look back and smile.

The verdict

Makes you feel like a daring adventurer making progress, but at the expense of in-your-face thrills. If you can stomach this, then import now!

Nintendo DS