Etrian Odyssey IV - Legends of the Titian ReviewJustin Ling
The games in the Etrian Odyssey series are known for being a throwback to old dungeon-crawling games where players must draw their own maps while navigating complicated dungeons and fighting monsters. The games also got notice for being notoriously difficult where a single wrong move can easily end in one's entire party being wiped out. The fourth game of the series happily continues this tradition and does so with energy.
Etrian Odyssey IV - Legends of the Titan brings a fine blend of new gameplay elements and elements from previous games, particularly the third game. One of the improved features from the third game is an overworld that adds a new degree of exploration outside of the main labyrinths. The overworld in this game is much larger than the one in the third game, consisting of several altitudes and also features a number of mini-dungeons for players to discover and explore, a fine addition to those who enjoy exploration. Most of these mini-dungeons consist of a single floor, but there should be enough to please fans.
Several game features have also been revamped. A casual mode has been added, though this mode is really meant to help newcomers get used to the game as this mode does not allow players to earn certain bonuses. The bestiary and item lists can now be accessed through the main menu, saving players from making a trip back to the hub town. The bestiary now also lists monster strengths and weaknesses after the players defeat the enemy at least once, something that newcomers to the series will find incredibly helpful. The skills for player characters have also been reformatted to look more like a skill tree for easy organization. In short, these new features are quite friendly for those who are just starting the series.
The game features beautifully drawn backgrounds and designed characters as well. The NPCs manage to take lives of their own through a combination of unique designs and charming personalities. The musical tracks are also memorable and atmospheric; players will quickly learn to fear certain music themes that accompany battles against powerful monsters. Many monsters from the previous games return in 3D form, but the game also features enough new monsters to avoid feeling like a complete recycling. The game does a great overall job in setting up a vibrant yet dangerous world that players will learn to admire for its beauty and fear for its many dangers.
The only real downside to this game is that it is very heavy in level grinding, something that some players may not have the patience for; level grinding is essential in this game as the monster encounters can be quite unforgiving toward the unprepared.. The leaps in difficulty between levels can be a little disorientating to newcomers to the series, though players will likely become used to the increasing toughness of later enemies.
Etrian Odyssey IV is an excellent addition to the series and is relatively friendly to newcomers as well. Old fans of the series will be happy to see that the core features of the game, exploration and difficult encounters, are still intact and pose enough of a challenge for them to be excited over. Newcomers will be pleased to know that this game is a little friendlier to those unfamiliar with the series with just enough guidance for players to learn the important survival strategies to grow into capable explorers on their own.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.