The game starts out with you arriving in town, where you’re at first tasked with simple missions such as slaying a giant monster or rescuing someone. But as in Dark Cloud, you have a hunger meter that comes into play as you traverse the dungeon, which makes it a lot harder to move around.
But unlike other dungeon explorer games, there are various workarounds for this issue and simply by changing party members your hunger meter resets; you don’t need to eat again for a while. Normally I would say this is a programming flaw, but it isn’t. The game intends for you to switch your party around to stay fresh while you’re exploring various maps and fighting off monsters.
When you do encounter monsters, combat is much like playing a game of chess. Each person in your party takes turns moving around or selecting which action they want to perform, and during boss fights, you control all aspects of the entire party.
Although the game is incredibly forgiving for a dungeon explorer, if you are defeated you will drop all the equipment your characters were carrying. This can be a bit tedious if you’ve already spent hours making some really amazing equipment, as I have.
As you explore, you earn en, which is a Japanese pronunciation of its national currency: the yen. With en you can upgrade the entire town you’re living in. Because the townspeople don’t know how to properly manage money, they need an outsider to pay for all the town’s upgrades (which will in turn get you more jobs and more money). This winds up being kinda redundant for me. Town growth is also stopped, depending on the dungeon you leave off at, which makes it even more tedious to grow the village. However, if you are short on money, the developers got you covered. There are a few DLC missions that are completely free and repeatable, which can boost your level or boost the amount of money you get. This makes grinding a bit easier and speeds progression, as well. Like I said earlier, the game is very forgiving and it’s easy for newcomers who want to try and get into the dungeon explorer game genre.
Is the game worth the investment? I think so. I’ve had a great time playing through the dungeons and taking it at my own pace, which truth be told is pretty slow. But the game can be played at a much faster pace for those who like to beat the clock.
If you want a copy of Etrian Mystery Dungeon, it’s available for Nintendo 3DS right now!
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