Game Info:

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth 
Developed By: Atlus
Published By: Atlus
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Available On: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes
MSRP: $24.99
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Thank you Atlus for sending us this game to review!

The Etrian Odyssey series has always been one of my favorite 3DS properties, partly because it suits the 3DS hardware so well. This series, which is on its seventh entry (if you count remakes), takes the essence of classic dungeon crawlers, with the 3D first-person view, and combines that with what most gamers from older generations had to do – create elaborate maps of each dungeon. The 3DS’ touchscreen is the perfect place to do this – it’s almost like Nintendo had this series in mind when they created the DS hardware in the first place. It also really helps that these games have some of the best 3D (as in stereoscopic) effects available on the handheld.

The 3DS entries, IV (which I haven’t played yet), and Untold I & II, have all improved on the Etrian Odyssey formula in subtle ways. The Untold series, which we have reviews for (written by yours truly) remade and improved I & II by adding an adventure mode, which features a predetermined set of characters, each with their own personalities and backstory. This entry, V, goes back to the create-your-own-heroes style of I through IV, where you are free to create any party you like – anything from a totally worthless party of no damage dealers to an overpowered mess of monster slayers. (Of course, the game is balanced against your overpowered monster-slayer team, and is quite challenging.) You can even have five of the same class, if you so desire.

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth

Strong Points: Excellent dungeon crawling adventure, with lots of content and tons to do; player-drawn mapping still required like previous entries; great character customization options, and still manages to feel different from the previous entries; building your party, taking on the challenges, and developing strategies and party compositions to overpower the enemies still as fun and excellent as it’s always been; very challenging (if you don’t purchase the cheater DLC)
Weak Points: Doesn’t feel much different than the previous two entries; cheater DLC available (which really cheats)
Moral Warnings: Foul language like ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, ‘h*ll’, ‘b*st*rd’ used; God’s name is sometimes used in vain, like ‘God’ or ‘Godd*mn’; minor alcohol use; some significant cleavage for a few women characters; players and enemies use magic, including healing, poison, elemental effects like fire and ice, and death magic with scythes or summoning undead to assist you; enemies range from forest creatures to undead skeletons, dragons, and everything in between

There are ten classes, with each getting to choose one of two legendary titles for further specialization once they clear the second stratum. On top of that, you can also choose one of four races, with each specializing in something: the Earthlains have the most vitality, the Therians the most physical offense, the Celestrians the most offensive magic potential, and Brounis are the best healers. Each race has skills and passive bonuses that are unique to them, along with various class skills to spend your precious skill points on.

It is literally impossible to max out any character, as there are always more skills to invest in than skill points available, no matter what level you are. So even if you had a crazy team with five blade dancers (for example), each could spend their points on different parts of the skill tree, making each character still fill a different role. Of course, not all classes can fill every role – not everything can heal, for example.

There is a ton to see and do, with each stratum consisting of five floors, and each floor taking quite a while to get through depending on your power level, as well as mapping/exploring skills. Each stratum has a different theme, with each ranging from a beautiful forest, to mountains, to even an undead graveyard. To say too much would be spoilers; the last two are quite something, and help tell the story of how the world came to be.

There is a story in Etrian Odyssey V, but it’s pretty simple. There are myths abounding when it comes to the gigantic tree Yggdrasil. The local government wants to encourage adventurers to scale this huge challenge, and both secrets and mysteries await those who conquer its heights. So, a reward is offered for the first to make it to the top and learn its secrets. You and your team want to be the ones to make it to the top first.

Each stratum gets progressively more and more difficult, and enemies also drop materials when they’re defeated. You haul these materials back to town and sell them to the shop, which then allows you to make new weapons, armor, and other items using them. It’s a great growth and reward system built into the game, as often the strongest and most difficult foes can have the greatest rewards. For example, with my Blade Dancer team, I was able to defeat the Primordiphant far earlier than intended – and I forged the Pugilist’s ultimate weapon as a reward! Suffice it to say, my party composition changed shortly afterwards.

Pugilists are bare-handed physical combat specialists, while Masurao (of which Blade Dancer is a legendary title) are katana wielders. Fencers, Dragoons, and Harbingers are also melee classes, each with their own specialties. Dragoons are defensive, Fencers focus on chain combos, and Harbingers focus on status effects.

Magical classes include the Warlock, Necromancer, Shaman, and Botanist. Warlocks are classical mages, with powerful elemental attacks. Necromancers summon wraiths, and often sacrifice them to cast various spells. Shamans are buff machines, and are very useful to have in almost any team composition. Botanists are straight-up healers, with direct healing spells. All classes are powerful and have a place, but Shamans fit into almost any team, and I chose that over Botanists as my healer. When you can passively heal around a third of your total health each round without having to waste a turn healing, plus make everyone do more damage or take less; now that’s a really handy class to have around.

There is one more class, called the Rover. It’s not really magical; it is a beast master that can summon both a hawk and a hound that can help do even more damage or lick your wounds to heal you. It’s a great utility class that can do a bit of everything; I was close to swapping it out several times, and I probably could have exchanged it for something that did more damage or healed better, but it did such a good job of putting out consistent damage and filling in holes that I left it in my party until the end.

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 68%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

The legendary titles add even more power and flexibility to the party. For example, the Fencer has the Phantom Duelist, or the Chain Duelist. Both can do chain combos, but the Chain Duelist has much more powerful ones. On the flipside, the Phantom Duelist can become a dodging master – you can’t touch this! One of my favorite classes has the highest risk/reward – the Blade Dancer Masurao. This class allows you to equip multiple katanas – not unlike a certain One Piece character. Each extra one you equip is in place of armor slots, so your defense is basically paper-thin, unless you pair it with another character to defend for you. But it’s totally worth it. You can perform a ‘Hell Slash’ that follows up each attack with an additional slash – and if you prepare and power up the Blade Dancer enough, each one can throw out 2-4k per hit! Let’s just say very few bosses, even the last one, can survive more than a few rounds of that.

Each Etrian Odyssey game I have played has had excellent dungeons, and this one is no exception. Each stratum has something that makes them unique, and challenging in their own right. If I had one complaint about it, it’s that the first half of the game felt too much like previous entries. The second half did make up for that mostly, but there was a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ feel to much of the early part of the game, except for the class system, which felt different enough to still seem fresh.

The moral content is not all that dissimilar to other entries, except that without recurring characters, there were less chances for shenanigans like Untold II had with the spa scene; this game had nothing like that as far as I saw. There are curse words like ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, ‘h*ll’, ‘b*st*rd’ used, as is God’s name used in vain, along with curses like ‘Godd*mn’. There is the expected fantasy violence, though no blood to speak of. There are lots of undead creatures, and an entire stratum dedicated to them. A team member can be a Necromancer, which is magic related to the dead or undead. Elemental magic, as well as various status conditions like poison and curses, are used by the enemies and the player. While theoretically a player could try to avoid all magic or dark magic, any attempt to do so will almost certainly strongly hamper player success. I noted alcohol use, and a few women have lots of cleavage shown.

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is another solid entry in one of the best dungeon crawling series currently on the market. The great folks at Atlus have always managed to make each entry a winner, with great graphics, excellent music, and memorable dungeons and party members. This one is certainly no exception. If you are looking for a great dungeon-crawling adventure, Etrian Odyssey is a very easy recommendation, if the moral issues don't deter you.

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