Etrian mystery dungeon is a JRPG developed by Spike Chunsoft and Atlus and published by NIS America. However the game contains many other elements including dungeon crawling and a rogue like aspect where items are concerned. Which is very similar to how Pokémon mystery dungeon games operates.
Story wise the game is fairly simple, you are an adventurer who has come to the small village of Aslarga in the hopes of exploring their famous mystery dungeons. It soon transpires however that there is more a foot with mysteries powerful monsters appearing at some of the bottom of these dungeons and even more powerful monsters becoming frequently active and moving through the dungeons endangering the town. There is plenty of side dialogue and such that becomes available as you progress through the story, mostly from customers at the amber restaurant which is nice as it helps you develop interest in the town in general and the main story running through the game. But, the focus does not seem to be the story and more the game with the main missions seeming more to point you to a new dungeon and setting up a reason for you to actually go there. This is nice but the simple reason to ADVENTURE, was all I personally needed.
The Mystery dungeon series is where this game takes most of its mechanics and pretty much how it plays. You can traverse a dungeon with a party of up to four with each member being from a single defined class from the ten that are available. The skills they have can be upgraded and obtained as they level. As you progress more options become available to you such as more equipment from the shops, special meals that have effects that last a dungeon such as boosted strength or more exp and also more quests become available. When traversing these dungeons your aim is to get from the top floor to the bottom going from room to room which sounds simple, right? It is, at the beginning you may have to watch you do not get hungry as each time you move you use up energy. If you die you lose all your stuff unless a rescue party, formed of other characters that were not in the party, manage to rescue you. Also since the combat is like a turn based RPG with every movement and attack counting as a turn in the dungeon it is pretty straight forward to understand. But, the game gets a little bit harder to understand later when D.O.E’s show up and start trying to trash the town. D.O.E’s effectively act as a second, more powerful boss that roams the dungeon with the principle agenda of screwing you over. Seriously, personally did not happen to me, however if they get out of the dungeon they destroy a district that costs a ridiculous amount of money to fix and pretty much means that something like the market where you buy items, weapons and armour is agonisingly inaccessible for a while. This may make you think that they must be somewhat sensible to kill however if you are not prepared you will not even put a dent in one of these D.O.E’s before they start buffing the dungeon flaws with your parties corpses.
With that all in mind this may sound like a real miserable experience to add into the game however it is actually probably one of my favourite aspects. This is due to it actually making you think on how to use your classes and build an effective team. I mean, once I figured out an exploring team (protector, gunner, medic and landsknecht) and a team to stand on the forts (medic, runemaster, landsknecht and Hexer) they were not so scary. Also if you loose and have placed up a fort then all that happens is you lose the fort and the D.O.E retreats back to the lower depths. Also , with a lot of the larger dungeons taking a couple of hours to finish, these boss fights help break up the combat a little making the whole experience a lot more fun.
Visually the game is like the other games in the Etrian series with the quite simple but bright design used in the characters (who are designed from characters in the games series) and dungeons making quite a charming aesthetic. So, un-surprisingly, the score too is very similar to that of previous games in the series.
Overall the game is great – taking the fairly unique gameplay from the mystery dungeon series and adding small things to improve on it and blending the Etrian experience into that making a dungeon crawling rogue-esk game which feels perfect for hand held platforms like the 3DS. If you are a fan of either the etrian series or mystery dungeon series then I recommend this. The only issue I personally have with the game is sometimes the dungeons can feel like a slog after a couple of hours however I think this is kind of like a good whisky, sure you could try and drink the whole bottle in an hour or two but after being too pissed to remember what you were doing and where you are and wondering “was that always on fire” you are probably going to think “there is a better way to enjoy this”.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.