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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That's a Big-ass Tree. [AKA Etrian Odyssey IV]

Look at these cute kids! Let's watch them murder animals.
 So Etrian Odyssey. Why does this game give me such feelings of excitement? Well, there's a number of reasons, actually. Though Etrian Odyssey IV is my first leap into the series, I've always been curious about it. The thing is, all three previous titles were extremely limited releases on the DS, and finding a copy of them now is... well, it's slightly easier now that they reissued them in anticipation for this fourth installment. But, all Etrian Odyssey titles are different in their own way, and Etrian Odyssey IV is delightfully unique in its own way.

You are an explorer, forming a guild to map out the area surrounding Yggdrasil, a massive tree that giveth and taketh life. Explorers don't have an easy life- to survive, they must gather food and map out caves and dungeons, mining for special objects to supply shops and make sure they're well-equipped. If you dump your harvest, you'll never be able to upgrade to new weapons and equipment. But your true goal is to uncover the secrets of Yggdrasil and become a true legend!

Upon entering any dungeon, there is no map- you must draw it yourself. Now, this isn't necessary- but with the crazy amount of dungeons- and floors within those dungeons- making sure you know where doors are and hidden passageways are concealed is very beneficial. Also, there are always mining areas within dungeons, featuring rare items that will contribute to higher-level equipment. Marking spaces is always beneficial.

And then there are FOEs. Massive, boss-like monsters that roam the dungeons, taking a step with every passing turn. If you get in their range, they will make a beeline towards you, though you can outrun them. But there's also random encounters, and ever turn within battle is a turn outside of battle, which means the FOEs can catchup and enter the battle alongside random enemies, making them extremely difficult to defeat.

Etrian Odyssey is known for it's difficulty, and though it's a bit jarring, seeing how easily you can get completely wrecked by enemies and recovering your MP can only be done by resting in the inn, the game still feels extremely accessible- and there's even a casual mode, if you're too much of a wimp.

But the real reason I want to talk about Etrian Odyssey IV is because of its demo. Which is awesome.

The demo lets you explore two full floors of two caves, level your characters up to level 10 (and distribute all their stat points), buy items, collect money, create 30 guild members... and it never ends. Well, it ends in 30 tries, but it only took me two to max out my first party one five. The real incentive, however, is that all of your progress in-demo can be transferred to the full release.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make a demo. Props to Atlus for knowing what RPG fans want, and making the transition from demo to full release as smooth as possible.

So, check out Etrian Odyssey IV for the 3DS. If you like it, pick up the full game.

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