When Nintendo discontinued the 3DS — and with it, the existence of dual-screen handhelds — I lamented the bizarre video games we’d now not have. Excessive up on that listing was Etrian Odyssey: a line of dungeon-crawling role-playing video games constructed explicitly with the hand-held’s two screens in thoughts. They’re video games the place you battle your method via harmful labyrinths and actually draw your personal map to chart your progress. I had a tough time imagining taking part in them on another platform.
Now, because of a remastered assortment of the primary three video games for the Change and PC (known as the Origins Assortment), I don’t need to think about. And in a variety of methods, these new variations are nice, with the identical unbelievable gameplay coupled with stunning visuals and music. It’s a possibility for an entire new viewers to get pleasure from them. However man, they positive do make me miss the DS.
For many who have but to discover the depths of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth, the Etrian Odyssey video games are nearly solely about exploration. You assemble a workforce of adventurers — every of whom matches into a category like darkish hunter or alchemist — after which go about getting as far into the multi-floor dungeon as you possibly can. There’s a little bit of a narrative, however not a lot, because the satisfaction comes from slowly inching your method via the labyrinth, making as a lot progress as you possibly can earlier than having to return to city for a relaxation and restock of your provides.
As you kill beasts and promote their elements, you’ll open up new gear to buy, and there are, after all, ability timber to make your squad stronger over time. I’ve performed a variety of hours of the unique Etrian Odyssey’s remaster on the Change, and the gameplay has aged superbly. Solely now, the artwork is crisp and clear, and there’s a refreshed soundtrack from legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro.
What actually makes these video games particular, although, is the cartography factor. In every recreation, the labyrinth you’ll discover is basically undiscovered. Nobody offers you a map and tells you the place to go. As an alternative, you need to actually draw the map as you go. On the DS, this was extremely intuitive: the highest display screen displayed a first-person view of the dungeon, whereas the decrease touchscreen was a grid the place you possibly can sketch out the map, noting all of its lifeless ends, twisting routes, and hidden secrets and techniques. On the Change, it’s, effectively, not fairly so intuitive. It appears like this:
Principally, round half of the Change’s show is changed by the map. You possibly can both use buttons to attract the map or, should you’re taking part in in handheld mode, the touchscreen. I couldn’t get the cling of the buttons, however the touchscreen was, let’s say, serviceable. Utilizing my finger wasn’t as satisfying because the DS’s stylus, and I discovered I usually needed to re-draw traces as a result of they didn’t register the primary (or second) time. It’s a small niggle, however when it’s such a giant a part of the sport, it makes a distinction.
That’s to not say that these remasters are unhealthy — removed from it. They do about nearly as good a job as potential in presenting such a novel expertise on a extra conventional gaming platform. It’s only a actually powerful job. For those who’ve by no means performed an Etrian Odyssey earlier than, you may not even thoughts a lot, and I’m hopeful extra persons are in a position to uncover this totally engrossing franchise. However for sequence veterans, the brand new assortment is yet one more reminder of the lack of a bizarre, exhilarating interval of gaming historical past.
The Etrian Odyssey Origins Assortment is on the market now on the Nintendo Change and PC.