Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth (Nintendo 3DS)

Yet another foray into the giant tree. Etrian Odyssey V brings back once again the old-school party building, turn based combat, exploration RPG. Form up a party of up to five characters, and delve your way UPWARDS into the giant Yggdrasil (say that three times fast.) Abandoning even the slim storylines of past games, take your party higher and higher into the tree to find the riches within. EOV: Beyond the Myth brings more of the same found in previous games, which is a good thing.

The giant tree, Yggdrasil, is full of layer upon layer of dungeons to explore, getting more difficult (and hiding more impressive treasure) as you climb higher and higher. At its base is a thriving town full of folks ready to sell you gear, give you errands to run, and put you up for the night so you can rest (for a small fee, of course.) Unlike past attempts, where there was an overarching storyline (get the princess to the top, etc..), Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth dispenses with a thin plot and focuses on leveling up and gaining loot. However, there denizens of the tree harbor a bit more depth than before, giving players choices to make as they explore. Most of these are simply – take the shiny thing on the ground, or not. (The “wait for a minute” option that was often there seemed to be a cop-out, as I figured anyone with half a brain in a dungeon would pretty much wait to check if it was safe.) However, there are other interactions to be had that give the game a bit more plot.

In classic old-school RPG fashion, create up to 5 characters (more, if you want, you can swap them in and out) from 10 different classes. Level up your characters and you get to spend points to increase their abilities. There are more abilities available than points to spend so each character class has several abilities with which to specialize. Once you’ve leveled up a bit, you can even jump over to a new class – keeping some of your old abilities around.

Continuing with the old-school style, combat is turn based with your party and the monsters first picking their targets and abilities, and then they are resolved in turn order through a single round. Combining character abilities to lower monster defenses, increase party defenses, and manage combat “control” (stunning or sleeping monsters) is an important part of the game’s strategy.

The final “old school” part of the game is old-school mapping. I remember mapping out all 20 levels of the original Wizardry game on PC on the pad of 20×20 grids provided in the game box. Etrian Odyssey brings that back in spades, having the dungeon exploration shown on the top 3DS screen, while the lower touch screen is used to map out the area as you explore. While I recall the mapping somewhat fondly, I’m now well beyond the need to prove my mettle so I welcome the option of turning on an auto-mapping feature. Maps are still important, though, as completely exploring each level grants rewards from the powers that be back in the town.

Kid Factor:
A game full of finding and then smacking around monsters is obviously going to have some violence. However, there is no blood or gore to be seen, monsters just “pop” away when they are killed. The errands and quests provided are also quite tame: kill the monster, find the thingy, explore here, etc… so there is little to fear there. However, and this is a big however, I was entirely stunned to see a four letter s-word show up only a few hours into the game. I can only think this was a poor translation, as no other part of the game assumes to have that level of maturity. Aside from that one incident (and I didn’t complete the entire game yet) the main age requirement would be the need to read the flavor text of the adventures and be able to perform a reasonable amount of character management.


Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is a classic, old-school RPG. In the Japanese style of RPGs, all players have the same set of characters with which to explore the game. This gives the game more depth and story as the characters and their interaction are tightly controlled. However, this also typically means there is less opportunity to customize one’s character as they increase in power. The old-school (American) RPG has extremely flexible character creation and a wide range of options for characters as they progress in levels. I enjoy the old-school style as it lets me more easily identify with or at least personalize the characters I make. The slow witted fighter, the quick little archer, etc…

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth doesn’t bring much new to the series, but it more of the same is not bad. The largest changes are with the new character classes available. (I particularly like the magic-wielder who summons spirits to defend and attack for the party, but can banish them away for more powerful attacks.) The mapping aspect of the game is nice as it helps me see where I’ve been, but I have no need to use anything but the auto-map feature. (Actually, I do make minor notations on the map to remind me of berry-plants, magic fountains, etc… which do not auto appear.)

If you like this style of game, or have ever played a character/story driven RPG and wished you could customize your characters better, then Etrian Odyssey may be for you. The newest implementation of the franchise is a fine place to start.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!