When a sport sequence runs so long as Etrian Odyssey has, you normally begin to see some sweeping adjustments and reinventions to its formulation. However Etrian Odyssey has by no means actually been about retaining with the newest gaming trends–after all, its core conceit of exploring a 3D labyrinth that you could fastidiously map out harkens again to the very earliest days of PC role-playing video games. Etrian Odyssey V: Past the Fantasy continues in that custom: It provides an enormous, difficult old-school-style journey that has been fastidiously iterated on and improved over the previous decade, with varied enhancements and refinements bolstering a formulation that does not want any dramatic adjustments to remain related.
Past the Fantasy plops you down within the continent of Arcania, which is residence to a Yggdrasil tree whose mighty branches develop all the way in which up into the heavens. Surrounding (and inside) this nice tree is a sprawling labyrinth, with many a fantasy spun about what lies on the prime. Adventurers from throughout the land come to the dominion of Iorys, which has only in the near past permitted exploration of the nice tree for the primary time. You assemble and take management of a guild of adventurers. However many hazards await you in your climb–twisting mazes, surprising surprises, and myriad monsters, together with particularly bloodthirsty beasts referred to as FOEs.
Like earlier Etrian Odyssey video games, Past the Fantasy focuses on exploration and ambiance over storytelling. It enables you to create a workforce of adventurers to your liking earlier than setting you free to discover the big labyrinth, with little in the way in which of extraneous banter (past some expository textual content and occasions occasionally). Your characters haven’t got a lot in the way in which of persona moreover what you think about, and the handful of non-player characters that you simply encounter outdoors of city aren’t terribly chatty.
In a variety of methods, it looks like a tabletop RPG marketing campaign, with a sport grasp chiming in occasionally to explain a personality or elaborate on lore, whereas leaving a lot to your personal interpretation. However Past the Fantasy has a good bit of voice appearing for NPCs and the narrator, in addition to battle cries to your created characters. Whereas this appears like a doubtlessly good factor, the voice appearing at giant ranges from forgettable to aggravating, in the end doing extra hurt than good. Generally issues are higher left to the creativeness.
Earlier than you start your lengthy, treacherous climb, you could assemble a guild from a number of totally different lessons of characters, starting from variations on commonplace RPG lessons like Fencer, Pugilist, and Warlock to extra esoteric lessons just like the Necromancer (who can conjure up wraiths as extra social gathering members on a whim) and the Shaman (who wields twin buffing/therapeutic talents). As you stage up, you possibly can put factors into character abilities as you see match, to create a very personalized social gathering. When you get some methods into the sport, you’ll hyper-specialize characters utilizing Legendary Titles–a new system that successfully replaces the dual-classing system of earlier video games by permitting you to hyper-focus characters into a specific position (for instance, your Dragoons could be unmovable, party-protecting tanks or hard-to-kill injury sellers). The choice to hyper-specialize and micromanage your social gathering to your coronary heart’s content material has all the time been a robust level of the sequence, and Past the Fantasy continues that custom.
A brand-new component added to the character administration combine is the selection of races. There are 4 races of characters, every with distinct stat development patterns and distinctive abilities: the humanoid Earthlians, rabbit-eared Therians, elf-like Celestrians, and cute-and-tiny Brouni. Every race has distinctive abilities (additionally powered with ability factors), akin to elemental resistance debuffs, and passive restoration abilities. Whereas this opens up some neat prospects for added min-maxing of stats to create superpowered adventurers, it is also type of a ache to handle at occasions; not solely would you like a pleasant, balanced mixture of social gathering members that work properly collectively, you additionally need to be sure you have the proper race abilities to make your crew run like a well-oiled machine in fight. Generally remembering who has which race abilities out there can get messy.
As soon as you’ve got made a celebration, it is time to begin the lengthy, arduous hike up that large tree. A typical component throughout Etrian Odyssey video games are the grid-based, first-person 3D dungeons that that you must completely discover and manually map out utilizing the 3DS’s backside display. This is not an optionally available factor; you have to to make maps, or else end up terribly misplaced in a sprawling labyrinth of wildlife. Thankfully, you’ve gotten a variety of mapping instruments and markers out there to you and a brand new automap function that can prevent from having to manually draw partitions (an incredible time-saver that I like to recommend turning on instantly). Do not count on automap to do every little thing for you, although; you will nonetheless need to mark factors of curiosity, hidden passages, and different potential hazards.
Talking of hazards, the labyrinth homes loads of them, largely within the type of monsters that inhabit every successively extra demanding ground. From the second a member of your fledgling social gathering will get one-shotted by a rabid flying squirrel on the primary ground in your beginning expedition, you understand you are in for some grueling fights.
The mix of cautious, quiet exploration punctuated by fierce fight is what makes Past the Fantasy a lot enjoyable.
Thankfully, quite a lot of enhancements makes fight much more satisfying. For starters, the “enemy radar” within the dungeons is extra correct, permitting you to know virtually precisely when you possibly can count on an encounter to pop up (and put together if that you must). It is also potential to test enemy knowledge mid-fight, that means that you do not have to memorize a bunch of weaknesses and particulars over the course of the sport. Lastly, a “Fundamental” problem setting makes the sport barely extra merciful, altering stats and injury by a small quantity in your favor and rising expertise features. Fortunately, you possibly can flip it on and off at a whim.
The mix of cautious, quiet exploration punctuated by fierce fight is what makes Past the Fantasy a lot enjoyable. Seeing your meticulously deliberate social gathering lastly take down a fearsome FOE that is been supplying you with hassle for hours is immensely satisfying, whereas little text-based aspect occasions that litter the dungeons as you discover are satisfying in a distinct however no-less-engaging manner. By focusing as an alternative on small enhancements to techniques and concepts that already labored properly, Etrian Odyssey 5 is an extended and difficult RPG that sucks you in and leaves you decided to see what lies above.