As a person who has never played any of the other Etrian Odyssey titles on the DS I began my venture into the demo for Etrian Odyssey IV Legends of the Titan with a fair amount of curiosity. I've heard plenty of good things about the series thus far, but never tried it for myself. Fortunately the demo for Etrian Odyssey IV made its way to the Nintendo 3DS eshop getting fans and potential new ones like myself ready for the adventure the lies ahead at the end of this month.
As I started the demo I was greeted by beautifully orchestrated music and lush green themed visuals. A short explanation about the story begins as the mythical tree Yggdrasil is introduced. The objective of the game is spelled out as well. Your party is challenged to find the "Truth" at the base of the tree.
Now you are tasked with naming your guild and creating a party at the Explorer's Guild. Once you have placed your characters in a party you can start exploring the city of Tharsis. Navigation is completely text based so there is no chance of getting lost in alleys looking for your destination.
The city of Tharsis is the only city available in this demo but this is enough to get a taste of how a town will work in the full game. You'll find the typical locations found in RPGs such as an Inn, item and weapon shop, and a quest center. Inns also serve as an item check and a place to heal party member's ailments as well as revive them.
Your next task is to go to the Grand Court to accept a mission. The first mission asks that you find an Iridescent Ore in the Old Forest Mine. Once you find it is yours to keep. Once you accept the mission, you are given 500 en to spend on weapons, armor, accessories, and items, before heading out to complete the mission. If you want to buy any worthwhile weapons or armor you will need a certain number special items to make one such as two Writhing Bulbs to make a Cutlass sword.
Next, the Old Forest Mine is where you head next. Movement is in first person and gives off a more realistic and personal feel. Once you are given a map it will appear on the touchscreen where you can zoom and place markers to help you plot out your surroundings. In addition you can also draw a trail of directional arrows to utilize the auto movement feature. A neat little feature that can provide easy movement for those who don't wish to use the control pad to move.
As you walk around for a bit a monsters or FOE will appear. There is a way to check when you will run into a FOE as a small indicator will glow blue, green, yellow, and finally red as you become closer to one. Basically you'll know when one will appear and have time to prepare for the fight. The FOE in this forest are pretty weak but it is accentual that you watch your health.
At this point characters can attack, use items, defend, and switch to the back row and escape. Skills and burst and not useable but as the party levels up they will presumably will become available. Since there is nothing but attacking that I can do to give damage holding down L activates auto battle eliminating the time it takes to press attack for all four party members. Pressing R lets you see the details of the FOE such as its HP and skills. After finishing off the FOE you'll receive a specific tradable item that can be used to get better weapons. For example Grasseaters carry Grasseater legs and Grasseater jaw.
Eventually dangerous FOE will sense you and the text will read, "You become aware of a monstrous presence. A monstrous baboon slowly approaches from the other end of the path with cruelty on its face!" Its times like this that the second person narration really stands out as a funny and quirky aspect that provides a light tone to the entirety of the game. Something that the Etrian Odyssey series is known for.
It is definitely apparent that Etrian Odyssey IV is a hardcore RPG right off the bat as the many character classes add to the variety of gameplay. You can compose your guild with 30 members, but only four of them can be placed on a team at one time. For instance we have the typical Soldier character or Landsknecht, whom does best in the front lines dishing out damage. Fortress characters help with taking damage in difficult battles. Medics if it wasn't obvious enough by their name deal with restoring the party.
The visuals are clear and beautiful and the 3D really makes everything pop out. That being said the character art gives the game a very cute air and lessens the tenseness and difficulty that is evident to occur later on.
The best thing about this demo is the fact that whatever you do while playing it such as buy weapons and level up characters, all of it can be carried over to the retail title. There is a limit to how much you can play and level up but it's a nice selling point to get people into the game even before it comes out.
I was certainly suppressed by how detailed this RPG truly is. The guild system is taken very seriously and adds for lots of room for customization. I'm looking forward to seeing the different skills that can be used by each different class and how I can fully utilize them to complete quests. For a demo with a lot of features from the full game present, it was fun. The limited level cap and areas to explore left me wanting to play even more. Even before playing it I wanted to buy the full game but I was very impressed by its complexity that I'm more excited for it then before.
Etrian Odyssey IV Legends of the Titan releases in its full and complete version on February 26th in the US. Pick up the demo today and begin creating your very own guild!