Atlus’s long-running Etrian Odyssey series started out all the way back on the Nintendo DS, and while the Nintendo 3DS did get a new mainline entry a few years back, since then it’s been remakes of prior games or spin-offs entries such as Etrian Mystery Dungeon. So for those who have been wanting a full-fledged new mainline entry, Atlus has finally released it in the form of Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth. Eschewing the story-backed narrative found in the Untold entries (assuming you played in that mode instead of the game’s Classic mode), it’s back-to-basics approach once again. But does this mean it’s simply a rehash of previous entries with a new local, or are there enough new features to bring in people who might not be hardcore enough to play it just because it’s a new Etrian Odyssey title?
If you’ve never played an Etrian Odyssey game before, you create a group of five player-created characters at a time and trek into the mysterious, labyrinth multi-floor dungeon inside the massive tree nearby the town you’ll make your point of return to. No one floor inside the dungeon is like the other, as each has their own tricks, traps and enemies unique to their own for the player to encounter. The key gimmick of the series is the use of the Nintendo 3DS’s touch screen, which has the player as a cartographer of sorts by mapping out the dungeon as they traverse through it. Players can enable a mode that charts out the path for them as they move leaving only specific elements up to them to fill in, or disable this feature entirely and have complete control themselves. Icons can also be placed on the map, such as notes for spots to return to later or mining and fishing spots to come back to and get loot once they replenish again. The one key difference from the Untold entries, however, is that this game has a very light narrative compared to those entries, with gameplay being the primary focus.
One key difference from prior Etrian Odyssey entries is in the character creation interface. While you still pick from set of different races such as humans, elves, etc. who have two male & female art options with two base “looks” for each, you have a surprisingly detailed amount of control over how they look color and voice-wise. Hair and eyes both have heavily detailed color selections, with both being able to have L/R-colors (i.e. left has one color, right has another) if you so wish. So if you’ve always been wanting a female human with heterochromatic eyes and pink hair with highlights, you can actually do it in this entry. And while the game initially locks races into specific classes at the outset, shortly into the game this restriction unlocks so you can mix-and-match if you so wish.
Besides looks, this new race system also plays into a change from prior games — race abilities. Bringing over some portions of the ideas from the Untold entries to a degree with their additional skills that could be “attached” to a character, races have their own unique abilities that can be unlocked by leveling up and using skill points to obtain them. This can be used for mundane things such as giving you more item storage space, or more useful abilities such as getting the jump on the enemy to a higher degree. There are some race abilities that are shared amongst all of them, i.e. mining, fishing, etc., however.
The battle system in Etrian Odyssey V is essentially similar to any of the recent prior entries if you’ve played them, especially the Untold series or Etrian Odyssey IV. Battles are turn-based, with inputting your commands and then the turn playing itself out until you resume control again to input a new round of commands. You generally will need to level at least a little bit in a new area before you can take it on at a level footing, as the game is not one to be forgiving if you rush in head-first without a plan. It really pays off to have good team synergy and spend time thinking about what skills you want to put investment into. One new wrinkle compared to previous entries is the Union Skills, which is somewhat similar to the previous game’s Burst Skills but this time around when the player hits 100% they can use their skill in unison (thus its namesake) with one or more team members to either inflict the opponent or positively affect the team.
The one flaw I had with Etrian Odyssey V as I played through it was that I couldn’t help knock off the feeling that it felt somehow too familiar. The FOEs (essentially Etrian Odyssey’s “boss-like” enemies that roam the floors) return as expected, but how you encounter them and at times move around them to get the upper-hand before entering battle hasn’t really changed. Unlike Etrian Odyssey IV’s over world, this game is structured like the first two entries where it’s an upward climb. While the artwork and music is new for this entry, it does have that familiarity that long-time fans will notice which may be a good or a bad thing depending on your perspective.
The best comparison I have for Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is comfort food. It brings back good memories of the past and is great to eat, but if you’ve had a lot of it recently you might end up being sick of it for a while. This entry is much the same — if you’re a newcomer this is easily the most polished mainline entry as long as a narrative isn’t your focus. But if you are a long-time fan and just recently played one of the prior entries or are burnt out on the franchise completely, this entry won’t do anything for you.Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth was reviewed using a digital code provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Character customization options are greatly enhanced over previous mainline entries.|
|The new race & Unison skills are a great improvement over prior mechanics introduced in previous titles.|
|For newcomers, this is easily the most polished mainline entry in the series to date.|
|It's very much like comfort food. It brings back good memories of the past and and is great to eat, but if you’ve had a lot of it recently you might end up being sick of it for a while.|