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Etrian Odyssey Nexus

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 19 - 2019

Going out with a bang.

 
While all eyes are now on the Nintendo Switch and the mighty 3DS is moving ever closer to its end of days, there is still the occasional new release that pops up on the handheld. The arrival of Atlus’ Etrian Odyssey Nexus is bittersweet as fans of the series will welcome a new entry, although they know that it will be the last one in this form. Still, the series is going out with a bang, with Etrian Odyssey Nexus being something like a greatest hits compilation of the first-person dungeon crawler that would make players draw their own maps.

 
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Anyone who has never experienced an Etrian Odyssey game, especially those of a younger persuasion, may struggle to see the games appeal. Not only is the method by which the player explores a dungeon quite old-school, in that the view is first-person, but the player only moves forwards and can only make 90 degree turns, but also in that the player is required to draw their own map of the dungeon on the touchscreen below. It seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Despite all of this though, something new players will quickly understand is just how compelling and involving the game becomes. That extra involvement with the mapping of the dungeon makes them feel much more alive and real, while also making it much easier to find anything the player might have missed. However, for those who have never spent hours drawing dungeon maps on grid paper, Nexus does have the option to help the player out by creating the maps for them, all the player then has to do is mark off points of interest such as doors or secret tunnels. This is perhaps making the most off-putting aspect of the game, at least in the eyes of newcomers, that little bit more accessible. Interestingly, it is one of only a few 3DS games where using the stereoscopic 3D is actually an advantage, giving the player a sense of depth and distance while exploring the dungeons in first-person view. That’s something else we will all miss when the 3DS is finally retired.

 
As with many other aspects of Nexus, it seems as though many of the dungeons are taken from previous titles in the series, albeit updated and polished to suit the 3DS. Veteran players who have spent hour upon hour mapping out the dungeons in older games will likely feel sparks of nostalgia as they recognise locations. Each dungeon, of which there are many, brings something new, be it a new theme or new mechanic, to give each an identity. For newcomers, this means a massive amount of content with what are arguably some of the best dungeons created in Etrian Odyssey games. Seems like a good time to start mapping.

 
When it comes to story, the Etrian Odyssey games have always been a bit thin on the ground, giving the player a vague idea of why they are exploring dungeons, just as a reason to do it. Nexus is no different in this aspect, leaving the player to pick up little bits of story as they progress, all of which has no real resonance with the player and their team of characters. Here, we have the floating island of Maginia and a Princess that wants to uncover secrets through exploration of the world. Do you really need more excuse to go and explore? No, not really. However, those who are looking for a lengthy and convoluted JRPG story will likely be disappointed.

 
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Customisation is key, and the player has a massive choice when it comes to different classes for the characters in their party. There are some 19 to choose from from the lead character, and as the player levels up and progresses through the game, sub classes become available, furthering the possible party combinations. Besides that, assigning skill points to characters can make two of the same class evolve differently. This is the real replayability of the game, with so many options for creating the perfect party, players can lose many hours to just finding the right combination.

 
The town acts as a hub from which to prepare and where to return to rest. The player will pick up quests that will lead them out into dungeons and away they go. From there, it is a matter of slowly wandering and making a map, watching out for the footsteps that indicate a monster is nearby. As battles are mostly random, each conflict could present a new challenge for the player as the encounter moves into turn-based battle. There are set enemies that can be found in dungeons, and these are usually very powerful and act more as a puzzle for the player to work out how to avoid.

 
The turn-based battles are fairly straight forward, with plenty of tactical options for the more veteran players to get their teeth into. There are buffs and debuffs to think about, alongside regular attacks, special attacks, spells and the use of items. The mechanics will be easy to pick up for anyone who has a history of playing JRPGs, but this doesn’t mean that the conflicts will all be easy. Nexus is a game that will require grinding, and it can become very obvious when the player is out of their depth and need to do some levelling. While regular encounters should not cause too much grief for a player at the right level, boss battles may become an exercise in frustration as these can sometimes stretch on for many minutes with no guarantee of success. There are four different difficulty levels to choose from, and I would advise any newcomers to take the easiest route, at least to start with. By default, Etrian Odyssey Nexus is a tough game.

 
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Etrian Odyssey Nexus is most likely the best Etrian Odyssey game ever, which is no real surprise as it is made up of so many ideas and so much content from previous games. It may not be the most original game in the series, and still remains one of the more niche dungeon crawling RPGs around, but as the final entry in the series, at least without some major changes, it really is one for the fans. Newcomers are still welcome though, as this is the largest and most definitive game in the series. As the last Etrian Odyssey game, all 3DS dungeon crawlers would do well to pick up Etrian Odyssey Nexus and give it the farewell it deserves.

 

 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 



 

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