The Radha of Etria are in desperate need of a hero. In recent weeks, a series of earthquakes have shook the city and the uncharted land that lay beyond it. As a seasoned Highlander, you are summoned by the Radha Councilman to investigate the phenomenon and report all findings to him. Before embarking on your quest, you are ‘tested’ by the Councilman to receive ‘official’ recognition from the Radha.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is a JRPG dungeon crawler for Nintendo 3DS. Seen from a third-person perspective, the player must explore dungeons and map out their progress using the Nintendo 3DS’ touch screen. Using a grid system with drawing tools, the mapping system keeps track of your location as you move. By using the stylus, you must select from a variety of tools to draw solid lines around previously visited areas, drop icons to indicate specific objects like doors, and even use footnotes to leave descriptions.
The mapping system is simple to use, but advance enough to give you some flexibility. An eraser tool is present to remove mistakes and a limited color palette is present to color in areas to represent dirt, grass, etc. While the game’s premise is to uncover the source to all the recent earthquakes plaguing Etria, you are required to map out every dungeon you visit to actually ‘clear’ them. This concept is not only original, but it adds an element of interaction that is not commonly found in role-playing games.
When you’re not mapping dungeons, you’re exploring them for clues, hidden rooms and items to help assist you in your adventure. When you approach something related to the story, your party members will either mutter a questionable ‘Hmm?’ or start a conversation. The game rarely leaves the player in the dark. However, it’s still important to explore every inch of a dungeon. Some have hidden doors that will lead to rooms that are otherwise inaccessible.
Like most JRPGS, enemy encounters are completely random. Combat is turn-based and relies on a menu system to issue commands to your party. Aside from attacking your foes, you can use special skills (i.e. magic), defend a specific teammate, switch the position of party members and even use items like Medica to heal. There is also an option to escape from battle if needed. You can also use a Grimoire Stone to borrow skills from members of your party. The stone will record the known skills of both the selected character and current enemies on-screen. When equipped, you can use the acquired skills during combat. So if the character you siphoned skills from has the Medic ability, you can assist in healing your party during battle. The Grimoire Stone plays an important role during combat; it should be used whenever possible.
When you’re back in town at Verda Plaza, you can visit the Rooster Inn to rest, heal and save a game in progress. The local watering hole, the Golden Deer Pub, is where you can accept local quests, discuss information with a barmaid named Valerie, and report quest results. The Explorer’s Guild is used to form your own guild. Here you can change a character’s class and rest your party for free. You are allowed up to 25 character slots for your guild. Radha Hall is where all missions for the main story are received. When a mission is completed, you must visit the Councilman in Radha Hall to further the story.
The touch screen controls are Etrian Odyssey IV’s most unique feature. By using the mapping system, you can use the stamp tool to draw a route to auto walk to a destination. This feature is actually quite convenient in larger dungeons. Plus, you can still ‘draw’ your map while your party walks. The directional pad and face buttons respond well during the game. The analog stick, though, can only be used to scroll through the map you are currently drawing. Gamers who prefer to use the analog stick for gaming may find this disappointing.
Etrian Odyssey IV’s graphics are downright beautiful; they use a combination of 3D for the environments and 2D for the character illustrations. The only drawback is that some of the dungeons look very similar. The character illustrations are on par with previous Atlus releases, so fans will be pleased by the level of quality given to the characters. The creatures that inhabit the dungeons manage to impress as they dance around the screen during combat. Tree Rats, in particular, look the part with their enormously large ears.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan for 3DS is one of the greatest JRPGs to ever grace a handheld system. The combat system benefits greatly from the Grimoire Stone system and the mapping mechanic adds a unique twist to an otherwise excellent game. Fans of the role-playing genre, and fans of Atlus releases in general, need to play this game; it’s that simple.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Beautiful 2D illustrations and colorful 3D environments.|
|A memorable soundtrack enhances the experience.|
|An intuitive mapping system compliments the gameplay.|
|Gamers will enjoy Etrian Odyssey IV's unique approach to the genre.|