#6 - Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan
Etrian Odyssey is the opposite of approachable and modern game design. There is little in the way of checkpoints and there is no auto-save. Game overs are frequent and can leave you with hours of lost progress. There is only rough indication on where you need to go to progress or to complete quests. You frequently are backtracking and revisiting old content. Character progression can easily be botched without a plan, leaving you with a near useless teammate. To top it all off, the game is punishingly difficult, with a steep difficulty curve that forces you to be prepared for anything and adapt.
All of the above is deliberate and why the series works so well. Etrian Odyssey does not hold your hand or talk down to you. It asks you to be an adult, figure it out yourself, and roll a new healer because you fucked up the last one. If anything goes wrong in Etrian Odyssey, it is your own damn fault. Trapped in a dungeon with a healer with 0 MP? Shouldn’t have progressed onwards without an item to warp out. Can’t take down this boss because your front line keeps dying? Shouldn’t have specced that warrior in pure offense now, eh? Can’t find the exit? Well, you would be able to if you mapped the goddamn route out correctly.
All of this sounds semi-abusive, but its actually, somehow, quite the relaxing title. Progressing onwards into the unknown, working hard to get that new piece of armor or finish that quest, exploring the nooks and crannies of each floor, and slowly, steadily becoming stronger and more confident in your team as you progress is one of the most rewarding feelings you can find in gaming. And due to the nature of portable games, it’s always there for you. You can set it down at any time and just flip it open to continue your quest. There’s no huge commitment to it, there is no huge reward for finishing it, as merely progressing through it, bit by bit, is reward enough.
Release Status (NA): Released