Inspired by classic tabletop gaming, the Etrian Odyssey franchise is known for its unique blend of dungeon crawling RPG gameplay and cartographical mechanics which allowed players to use the DS/3DS’ touch screen to draw maps of each dungeon and place markers indicating where things like treasure, dangerous enemies or shortcuts are located. Fans have been wondering what the future of Etrian Odyssey would hold now that the consoles that allowed for the franchise’s unique selling points are now obsolete. As if to test the possibilities of new Etrian Odyssey games, we have the Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection, a remake collection of the original Nintendo DS trilogy of games. Is it possible for Etrian Odyssey to work without the touch screen?
Let’s get the big question out of the way, how does the map drawing work and is it good? The answer is yes, but it needs a bit of explanation. See, while exploring dungeons, the only buttons you really use are the D-Pad and the A button, so what they’ve done is they’ve dedicated all controls related to the map to the right stick and ZR. This way, you are able to draw out the map with one hand while the other hand is used to traverse the dungeon; it takes a bit to get used to at first but it quickly becomes second nature, but on the off chance it still feels awkward, you can still toggle the auto-map function which automatically maps out everything in the dungeon except for interactables. If all else fails and you still don’t like how it controls, you can play the game in handheld mode which restores the touch screen functionality.
Another big selling point to Etrian Odyssey is the amount of player expression available to you. You can choose which classes to add to your party, choose their colour palettes, give them names and choose how to build each character via their skill trees.
A nice little detail that managed to carry over from the original Etrian Odyssey games to the remakes is that you can carry over your progress from Etrian Odyssey 1 to Etrian Odyssey 2 (This feature was not available to Etrian Odyssey 3 so it was not added in the remake). Doing this will carry over your team members and their progress into Etrian Odyssey 2 and doing so will make the game adapt its difficulty, making it much harder.
- Intuitive map controls even without using touch screen
- Plenty of player expression and party building
- Save file transfer between the first two games
If you’ve never played an Etrian Odyssey game before, then you’ll probably have a hard time with the difficulty of the early game. It’s very common at the start that enemies can take out one of your party members in one or two hits, which will make them fall behind in EXP and cost you money to revive and heal them. What's worse is that you get very little money in the early game so if you’re not careful, this could spiral out of control and possibly lead to you not being able to afford to heal your team, so you’ll need to make a backup team.
I highly suggest not playing these games back-to-back because oh boy are they repetitive, not just with general gameplay but in story and progression structure as well. In all three games, the first floor is reserved to teach you how to draw the map, the second floor introduces the FOE mechanic (roaming enemies that are too strong for you to fight when you first encounter them), the third floor has FOE’s in large open rooms to teach you how to exploit their AI to escape them, etc. Every game feels like a cookie cutter copy of each other and it gets old really quickly.
This is more of a nitpick than anything but as someone who started the franchise with Etrian Odyssey 4, I really dislike how the older games handled gathering nodes. In the newer Etrian Odyssey games, each gathering node you find can be used 3-5 times a day, while in Etrian Odyssey 1-3, you have to spend skill points for your characters to learn how to gather at a specific gathering node where each skill point spent counts as one extra use at a node; once you run out of uses mining for example, you will no longer be able to mine at future mining nodes you find until the next day. This way, you are forced to make a separate team specifically to farm gathering nodes so you don’t have to waste their skill points. I mean, Etrian Odyssey 3 literally has a Farmer class specifically for this.
- Early game difficulty could be too oppressive for newcomers
- All three games are structured the same, making them feel repetitive
- Gathering nodes in older Etrian Odyssey games are annoying
Final Score: 8/10
As a long time Etrian Odyssey fan, it feels good to see that the franchise can flourish outside of the consoles they were initially designed for. Yes, some of the franchise's older issues do show up again, but it’s more than worth having to deal with to play a fantastic collection of games we didn’t expect to ever see again. Here's hoping the success of this collection leads to new entries in the Etrian Odyssey franchise.
Thank you for checking out our Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection Switch review, thank you to Sega/Atlus (via Five Star Games PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: