Why You Should Play Games Like Etrian Odyssey

Written by on March 13, 2013 in [, , , ]

I’ve been playing a lot of Etrian Odyssey IV lately. Which is to say I’ve been getting mauled to death by wallabees. And butterflies. Then losing an hour of progress while I weep silently in the corner.

Etrian Odyssey is kind of a mean game.

It’s still a necessary kind of game, though. As much stuff as I really just dislike about Etrian Odyssey (don’t worry, we’ll get to that). Etrian Odyssey still fills a need, and it’s a series I want to see more of. As I have said before, I think achievements are kind of dumb. that doesn’t make the sense of accomplishment they can bring a bad thing. One of the coolest things I did in Half Life 2 was pick up the “One Free Bullet” achievement for playing through the entirety of episode one and not firing a shot. Similarly I finished Fallout 3 under some…interesting circumstances the second time through.  The sense of accomplishment should come from the game. And after spending five minutes beating down a monkey with a gigantic afro Etrian Odyssey IV definitely provides that.

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gayAqdeFg0E']


(yeah, wasn’t kidding about the monkey. Skip to about 1 minute in)

Of course there’s also the part where you’re fighting giant monkeys with afros. And where half the character models look like preteen girls wearing string bikinis (of course this is only a problem with the female character models…). Etrian Odyssey has some distinctly anime stylings, and while that makes for a pretty neat-looking environment and some goofy, over the top characters, it also brings about all those other elements of anime that we don’t talk about much. You know, the rampant misogyny and racism. It’s hard to reconcile this with the same company bringing over games like Persona 4. It’s also just kind of gross. The weirdest part is the character bios are almost completely irrelevant. The entirety of the Etrian Odyssey series takes place in the first person; the character models are really irrelevant.

This. This is Gross.

I think what’s really sold me on Etrian Odyssey, despite the bouts of weirdness and often brutal difficulty curve, is that Atlus is clearly making their own game here. No one’s trying to appeal to a broader audience with this series. The first Etrian Odyssey sold 160,000 copies, and the entire series has sold less than some blockbusters do in their first day (Mario 3D land is sitting pretty at over five million units sold). But we still got four of them. Etrian Odyssey is great for the exact reasons I was kind of bummed by the third Dead Space game; Atlus didn’t hang their hopes on Etrian Odyssey as the next great hope. It is what it is, and Atlus is happy to play to the audience that’s happy with that.

I look at new releases right now, and I see a Tomb Raider game whose fault is trying to be too much Uncharted. A new Dead Space that’s trying to be not quite as scary so everyone can come to play. A Far Cry that’s…Ok, Far Cry 3 is still awesome. Bear with me. The thing that seems to be going wrong with our giant new releases is just that; they’re giant new releases that have to be shoehorned into a mold that fits everyone.

Etrian Odyssey IV isn’t going to sell a million copies in a week. It’s not going to change your mind about grind-heavy JRPGs. But it is a pretty solid example of the genre, and it is a lot of goofy fun that you can get at any time because of the eShop. That’s the cool part about all these big budget releases and the horrible nonsense that springs from busted launches. The technology that’s been developed to make Sim City not work at all is the same reason you can hop on Steam or Origin or Good Old Games or the eShop and pick up something rad. It leaves room for those small games that retailers just aren’t going to stock. And it lets you dig into a purer experience.

So play some Etrian Odyssey. Treat yourself. Its the reward we get for slogging through a hundred homogenized releases and sequels.

And killing that afro-laden monkey with lightning was pretty cool.


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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards. http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Snell/e/B008G0MORI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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