Etrian Odyssey 3: The Drowned City (DS) First Impressions

  • Etrian Odyssey 3: The Drowned City
  • Developed and published by Atlus
  • Released September 21, 2010

Etrian Odyssey 3: The Drowned City was released a few weeks ago, and as a fan of the first game I was quite interested.  I finally caved yesterday and bought it.  I played a lot of the first game after getting it shortly after its release in 2007, but for some stupid reason never got EO2.  I really, really should have, I love this series and definitely regret not playing the second one… I’ll have to get it sometime, but its price is going nowhere but up.

Etrian Odyssey was designed as a return to the style of 1980s first person dungeon crawling RPGs, and aside from a complete lack of real puzzles, it did a great job of it.  EO3 is very similar to the first game in that regard, as far as I can tell.  A few new features to make things a little easier have been added, but not too many; for the most part this is still classic dungeon crawling, and still great.  I find the lack of puzzles sad, and unfortunate, but even so what’s here is more than good enough to be captivating for a very long time.

I was a little unsure if I wanted to get EO3 now or wait a little while before getting it, but remembering that I said that about EO2 and then never bought it helped push me towards getting it.  Then when I saw a copy in a local store new, with the artbook (which was a preorder bonus from participating retailers bonus; evidently this local chain is a participating retailer. :)), I knew I had to get it.

It took all of two minutes into the game when I knew I’d made a good decision, and made me really wonder again why I ever didn’t get the second game… I love the EO games, and now that I’m back into it I realized I’d been missing it.  This one’s classic EO, but with some new features as well.  I’m still quite early in the game so I can’t say too much, but I like some of the new stuff — the sailing portion is cool, for instance.   Evidently the stratums are longer this time, and there are only 25 floors, which is a little disappointing; EO1 had six stratums, each 5 floors long (30 total).  The last was a bonus, postgame-content stratum, so it also had 25 main floors, but I haven’t heard of a bonus stratum this time.  They did add the sea part to add some stuff, but that’s different, you don’t play that like a dungeon.  I like the sea part — the movement range system, exploration of the oceans, etc. is quite fun — but it’s not a replacement for a bonus stratum, if indeed there isn’t one.  Well, we’ll see, I know there is bonus postgame content for sure at least (read: really hard optional bosses).  I know that either way the game will have a ridiculous amount of content, and that like the first one I’ll probably never finish most of it, as too much of it requires a lot of grinding.  I like the game as long as I can keep going, but in EO1 for instance the postgame part really was ridiculous grinding-wise if you didn’t have exactly the right party (respecing your entire party/replacing party members with new people you now have to level up to max to exactly the party needed for the insanely difficult special bosses, specifically).  EO2 was even worse, from what I’ve heard, if you wanted to optionally get above level 70 (the first game’s max).  EO3 sounds like it’s sort of in between, getting to level 99 isn’t quite as insane, but it still does require getting through the postgame bosses.

Anyway, the EO games are just so much fun.  Party creation is great, with all-new classes and artwork this time to mix things up; EO2 brought back all the old classes with a few new additions, but this time it’s all new.   12 classes total, 2 hidden.  EO1 had 9 classes at the start, 2 more hidden; EO2 had 14 total, 3 new, but I’m not sure if they were hidden.  There is also an alternate color sets for all the portraits this time, too, which is pretty cool, more options.  You then explore the dungeon, map it out as you go, fight FOE bosses, farm resources, do quests, figure out the mystery of the dungeon (will it be another surprise somewhat bad ending like the first two games had?  At this point though it wouldn’t really be a surprise anymore would it…), and more.  It’s great classic dungeon crawling fun.  There’s lots of challenge, some grinding (some optional, some not as much), hard bosses, normal enemies that you will have to think to fight, so there’s no autopilot here, and more.

This time though as I’ve said you also can go to sea, so you travel the seas, explore, find islands, fish, and do other stuff.  You can only travel as far as the food you purchased before setting off will let you go, so you have a movement range.  It’s an interesting system, putting a little realism into the sea exploration while also making it so that you can’t just go anywhere right from the start.  Each voyage costs money too, so you’d better make it in the dungeon, or use some voyages for fishing to make back the cash.

Overall, I’m very early in the game, but I’m definitely loving it so far.  Anyone who likes EO should pick it up, preferably with the artbook if you can find a copy with it (Amazon’s copies still come with the artbook for instance, I believe).  The artbook has full-sized pages, so it’s not some tiny little DS case sized thing.  It is only 60 pages long so it definitely isn’t comprehensive, and I do find it disappointing that there isn’t more in it — I’d love to have seen more of the prelim sketches of characters and their equipment, art for all of the stratums in EOs 1 and 2 and not just some of them, the EO2 art for the EO1 classes (while all 11 original classes returned in EO2, and their costumes are the same, they were redrawn in new poses for the second game.  None of this art is in the book, only the art for the new classes.), and more, for a short-ish artbook it’s pretty cool, and it was definitely worth getting.
The above link is to a neat little image creator, so you can show what characters are in your party and which costumes you’re using for each. Unfortunately it doesn’t work on this site, as far as I can tell, but for forums and such it’s a neat little extra. Too bad the US site doesn’t have a version of it. The menus are in Japanese, but in the created image class names are in English, so it’s easy to figure out which is which. Some class names are different (in the US the Warrior was changed to the Gladiator, and the Beast King to the Wilding), but that’s minor.

My starting party is a Gladiator, Monk, and Princess in the front row, and a Zodiac and Wilding in the back row. I created a bunch more characters though, so when I have to switch to some others — and in an EO game that’s an inevitability — they’re ready.

Overall, get this game if you have any interest at all in classic, dungeon crawling RPGs. Get all three of the EO games, in fact. They’re very good.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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