Review: Etrian Mystery Dungeon (Nintendo 3DS)

Review: Etrian Mystery Dungeon (Nintendo 3DS)
Review Score:

Taking a vacation should involve enjoying the finer things in life – relaxing on the beach, staying up late, and spending extended time with family and friends. In Etrian Mystery Dungeon – a top down role-playing game that was co-developed by Spike Chunsoft and Atlus Games – the ideal vacation is touring the town of Aslarga, a place known for the ‘best view’ around. But unlike most of your tour group, you didn’t come for the scenery; you came to explore the Mystery Dungeon.

Before the adventure can begin, you are instructed to ‘Register’ at the local Adventurer’s Guild. The player must choose their character’s gender and body color to complete the registration process. From there, a short tutorial explains the game mechanics, as you explore the first few levels of the dungeon. During the tutorial, you are issued a Dungeon Map, a Zone Map, a communicator and a ration of bread to get you started. Once the tutorial is finished, the city of Aslarga becomes available to you.

Etrian Mystery Dungeon

While quite large, the city map appears vacant until all the available vendors are introduced to you. The first location to appear on the map is the Adventurer’s Guide, where you can ‘manage’ and ‘edit’ your party before entering the dungeon. It’s also possible to ‘register’ new party members and ask the Guild Master for advice. From there, Kausmi’s Inn, Chano Retail and eventually Magan’s House appear. Kasumi’s Inn is used to store (and withdraw) items that have been collected along the way. There is an option to ‘Save’ your in-game progress (a must for Rogue-likes) and chat with the innkeeper, Kasumi. It’s all standard RPG fare, as you may have gathered (no pun intended) so far.

Chano Retail, as the name implies, is where you can purchase gear for your party and sell any unwanted items cluttering your inventory. Magan’s House, a ‘fort’ of sorts for the frontline, is where adventurers can accept missions to earn associated rewards. The mission system uses a simple, easy-to-navigate window that shows every mission that is currently available to your party. Once a mission has been selected, it’s off to the Skyship Port to begin dungeon crawling the near-infinite levels of Mystery Dungeon.

Etrian Mystery Dungeon

The gameplay is a combination of real-time exploration and turn-based combat. For example: every time your party moves, creatures – seen or unseen – will move at the same time. Combat is streamlined and easy to understand; every party member has basic movies assigned to a single button. For skill-based attacks, you can access the ‘Combat Menu’ anytime during combat. While it may seem simple on the surface, combat requires the player to constantly monitor their party’s layout, the relevance of equipment per character, and the leader’s strength.

Forts are an important feature to exploring the dungeons as well (they unlock early on during the game.) Forts can be placed on previously explored levels, making navigation through fortified levels a little quicker. They are also used to prevent D.O.E.’s from escaping the dungeon and attacking your home hub. If the D.O.E’s attack your home hub, certain sections will close off for a short period of time. On the other hand, forts can be staffed with unused registered characters to mount a manual defense and/or push a D.O.E. back to its dungeon respectively.

Etrian Mystery Dungeon

As far as role-playing games are concerned, Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a refreshing take on the turn-based, Rogue-lite genre. The marrying of game mechanics from both Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon works well, and you can easily spend countless hours exploring the dungeons. Spike Chunsoft and Atlus out did themselves with this crossover; here’s hoping a sequel is in the works.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (Compatible w/ New Nintendo 3DS)
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $39.99

Review Score
The different art syles from Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon compliment each other.
There are plenty of memorable songs peppered throughout the adventure.
Classic Rogue-style gameplay complimented by plenty of dungeon crawling.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a successful RPG crossover that delivers on both atmosphere and gameplay; it's a real treasure of a game.
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