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  • Etrian Odyssey has long been the hardcore RPG fan's bastion of viciousness on the DS

  • and 3DS systems. You build your party, you get a bajillion customization options and

  • plenty of skill trees to navigate, you delve through dungeons, fight off fell beasts and

  • cruel creatures, and draw all your own maps while doing so. It's that intersection of

  • old-school adventure fan and moe-appreciating otaku, who - for being a small portion of

  • the market as a whole - have apparently supported the series enough for Atlus to localize all

  • four chapters up to this point. All of them have one thing in common: A party that you

  • have to build yourself from members recruited through the guild system. Etrian Odyssey Untold,

  • on the other hand, actually GIVES you a team. It's strange, I know, especially for this

  • series. But this foreknowledge of who's who lets them also do really cool things like,

  • y'know, plot-advancing animation.

  • For sacrificing a bit of control over the members of your own party, you stand to gain

  • a number of improvements upon this re-imagining of the first installment of the Etrian Odyssey

  • series. Firstly and primarily, there's an actual cast of compatriots for you to get

  • to know, including a strange girl who was locked in some high-tech ruins and suffers

  • from amnesia. And yes, that does kinda sound just like Star Ocean plus a sharp blow to

  • the head, but stay with me here. You're tasked with investigating those ruins, as well as

  • the various strata of the forest nearby, and drawing maps of what you see. See? Cartography

  • does come in handy sometimes. Along the way you put down packs of monsters, collect their

  • various bits to sell to NPCs, fulfill quests at the pub because that's where people go

  • to take up quests, and generally do everything in your power to rack up more sweet, sweet

  • EXP to fuel your navigation of each party member's skill tree... or to save your hide

  • in case you fail in slaloming through the huge freakin' monsters you're prone to finding

  • in each dungeon.

  • To help ease the fact that you're given a static party, Grimoire Stones are available

  • to diversify each member's available skills and weapon proficiencies. (read: This is why

  • your healer is on the front lines with a sword.) These stones are occasionally generated during

  • battle and can be melded together at your own mansion to customize or consolidate the

  • powers you prefer. You've also got a maid who's adept at whipping up delicious refreshments

  • that lift your spirits (and stats) through your next raid into the wilderness. And yes,

  • occasionally, you get Ice Cream. Turns out Lushy McTankpants hails from this cold, snowy

  • region known as "Ontario," which makes her at best a Leafs fan and, at worst... ugh...

  • a Sens fan. Oh well, that's why she takes the hits. And drinks to forget.

  • But if you're not a fan of these, y'know, characters getting in the way of your good,

  • traditional RPG dungeon slog, you have the option of just going without. Say "bollocks"

  • to the advances of half a decade, and just play it as you would a standard Etrian Odyssey.

  • You're welcome to do exactly that thing. It's a surprising accommodation from a game that,

  • in most every other respect, is there to beat down your soul under cartography tasks, fetch

  • quests, and a brutal difficulty curve. I guess some folks just go for that sort of thing,

  • and I guess I'm one of 'em. Now pass the ice cream before I put your head on a pike.

Etrian Odyssey has long been the hardcore RPG fan's bastion of viciousness on the DS

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