|You can have whatever you like.|
Etrian Odyssey IV is not a story-heavy title. You are explorers, and you explore. You're different from other explorers, though ,mostly because you're not a complete idiot and don't roam through dungeons by yourself. Instead, you are given the ability to choose your guild members from a pool of classes- all-around combatants, buffing and chasing dancers, solid-defense fortresses, protective medics, hard-hitting elemental mages, destructive, status-inflicting nightseekers, and binding, weakness-provoking snipers. You eventually gain more classes as the story progresses, which are powerful late-game additions that can deal massive amounts of damage, and you also obtain the ability to dual-class and transform characters into all-around powerhouses that set one another up in truly ridiculous ways. The battle system is intricate, but easily-maneuverable because of the simplistic presentation. It is up to the player to construct truly terrifying combinations.
What story does exist is interesting enough- you travel through a series of four locales discovering new caves- single floor maps that usually have a specific mechanic in mind- and labyrinths- long, three-floor ordeals that take place on larger maps and feature much more complicated puzzles and mechanics. There is a sense of exploration, but as you explore more, you also become closely tied to the events of the story, which eventually snowballs into a massive, astounding finish.
The thing that is truly special about Etrian Odyssey is that it captures the feeling of exploration so well. You have no choice- you must mark the map yourself, and because you are not given the ability to automatically utilize this function, you feel as if every step you take must be recorded, so to speak. The intrigue that builds as you progress from land to land, uncovering new locales and new game mechanics, is intoxicating. Overall, the game nails exploration, and it does it in a wonderful way.
Of course, it's coupled with an amazing soundtrack that is fun to rock out to even in those stressful battles. You can download extra quests to the game and exchange guild cards with others. I've been playing for ninety hours and I still can't get enough of it. There really is a whole lot.
As a JRPG fan, and maybe even as a budding fan of first-person dungeon crawlers, I can't recommend this game enough. However, there are some important things to understand before taking the leap. This is not a game you can just blow through- there's some careful planning and lining up of the stars and such that needs to be done, and that takes time. Taking time is really the best thing you can do in the game. The difficulty curve may seem insurmountable, but there's plenty of options for you to tackle both in the game mechanics and in the difficulty settings- I'm playing on classic but I hear casual is a more eased experience.
Final Verdict: Intense, rocking, and lengthy, Etrian Odyssey benefits from the added power of the 3DS in a great way. This is the type of game we should expect from an established publisher, and the type of game that is very worth delving into on the 3DS. It may be hard to approach, but it is, without a doubt, one of the best 3DS titles.