Best Traditional RPG
Best Series Finale
Etrian Odyssey is was born into the world once Atlus had the opportunity to experiment with what the Nintendo DS could do. First-person dungeon crawlers where players completely customize parties aren’t terribly uncommon, and they all tend to have a map that fills in as you explore environments. Etrian Odyssey always kicked things up by making mapping feel as important as adventuring. With the end of the 3DS lifespan and journey into new frontiers, Etrian Odyssey Nexus acts as a celebration of everything the series did in its first eleven years.
Think of Etrian Odyssey Nexus as a This Is Your Life sort of game. It takes everything people know about the series and brings it together for a big crossover to send it out with a bang. Which, honestly, is reflected in the name. It is the nexus where everything comes together, a big crossover of everything that matters about the series. From locations to characters, it is all there.
This means there are a number of recurring hallmarks. Players are pulling together a group of adventurers to explore the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. The hub is Etria, a town that has been the base in games like the original Etrian Odyssey, is our starting point. There are secrets that need to be worked out, and truths that are only revealed when someone takes the time to head into the heart of the land’s dungeons. All of the mapping tools we have come to appreciate remain on the touch screen, with automapping for people who don’t take as much joy from obsessing over accurate assessments.
It is also a greatest hits collection of classes. One of the neat things about Etrian Odyssey games is how each installment had its own sorts of character classes that varied based on geography and the lore in the area. Since Etrian Odyssey Nexus is pulling everything together, it draws upon 18 classes from past games. It also introduces the Hero class, which feels appropriate considering it is a heroic last stand. This means different party types are possible that could never have happened before and there’s this wide array of possibilities open to the sort of people who play these sorts of titles because they relish that variety.
Perhaps the best part about Etrian Odyssey Nexus is that it it is considerate. It takes all of the improvements and quality of life changes and applies them to a new game. It offers the easiest Picnic difficulty, which is nowhere near as taxing as even the normal “Basic,” so anyone could begin playing. It even has an overworld with more extra events and smaller dungeons, to give people more ways to prepare themselves. While it can be punishing, there’s the option to make it far friendlier than past games.
We don’t know what will happen with Etrian Odyssey going forward. Perhaps the series will even be abandoned, now that there isn’t a system out there with the number of screens necessary to offer a proper mapping system. No matter what the future holds, we have Etrian Odyssey Nexus. We have an entry that attempts to do it all, while saluting every game that came before. It is a good position to be in.