Etrian Mystery Dungeon ReviewJustin Ling
Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a collaboration between Atlus and Spike Chunsoft, taking the world of Etrian Odyssey and giving it the gameplay of the Mystery Dungeon series. The result is an enjoyable roguelike game that is a bit easier than other games in the same genre, due to being more forgiving when players get wiped out, but still possessing enough challenges that will make players stay on their toes. This game manages to blend the gameplay mechanics of both franchises together in a way that does not feel jarring and makes for a smooth experience.
Characters are created in traditional Etrian Odyssey fashion by selecting a class and assigning a name; players have ten different classes to choose from, nine from previous Etrian Odyssey games and the tenth being the new Wanderer class that takes cues from the player characters of Mystery Dungeon games. Each class is useful in its own way and players can experiment with different teams and strategies. However, it is advised that players invest in characters that can inflict status effects and binds effectively, as such characters are needed against the D.O.E.s, this gamefs answer to the infamous F.O.E.s of Etrian Odyssey.
As for the dungeon-crawling itself, one of the biggest draws of the game is the D.O.E.s and the forts. Not only do the D.O.E.s provide challenging battles that require a bit of strategic planning to overcome, but they also give the game a new strategic angle. D.O.E.s are constantly trying to make their ways to the surface; if they succeed, they will wreak havoc on the town and temporarily shut down one of the facilities that players depend on. Players are encouraged to build forts in dungeons; not only do forts provide a way to temporarily ward off D.O.E.s, but characters stationed in the fort gain experience along with the dungeon-crawling party.
The most frustrating part of the game is the AI-controlled members of the party not acting when you need them to, and this is a rather significant strike against the game. This is most often seen in hallways, usually resulting in the player-controlled character being the only one acting while the other characters sit back doing nothing. While this can be remedied by changing leader characters to assume direct control or spending points on the Blast Meter to issue certain commands to the AI, such methods can become tedious after a while. Thankfully, boss battles allow players to control the actions of all their characters, avoiding what can potentially be a very frustrating situation where the AI does something stupid and gets the entire party wiped out as a result.
Fans of both Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon will want to check this game out. It blends the two franchisesf gameplay mechanics together very well and offers challenges unlike those in the two franchisesf games. The AI might not be the most trustworthy and can lead to monotonous micromanaging, but the gamefs other strengths are enough to forgive the AI problems a little. The game is accessible to many types of players, tough enough to provide fans of both franchises thrills and easy enough for new players to settle in. This is a game of many possibilities and there is much to explore and try for those seeking adventure.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.