The Etrian Odyssey series has always been right up my alley. Wizardry and anime waifus are two of my favorite things, so it only makes sense I’d be a fan. However, as the series has gone on, I’ve started to feel like things have grown a little stale. While the story mode in Odyssey 2 Untold was a pretty nice change of pace, Etrian Odyssey Nexus puts us six games in (not counting spinoffs and remakes) with very little added to the core gameplay since the original. Does this last entry on the 3DS have enough new content to justify a sequel, or has the series begun to coast on recycled maps and enemies a little too much?
Etrian Odyssey Nexus
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (Reviewed)
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Reviewing this game is a challenge, simply because it takes zero risks with the tried-and-true Etrian Odyssey formula, and delivers something akin to a ‘Best of’ experience. Is it a good game? Well, yeah. But it’s more of a culmination of all the junk from other games, and less of a sequel in its own right. I’ll try to explain.
Visuals are up to bat first. The art style in these games was always a big selling point for me, and that hasn’t changed in the slightest. My party is always full of cute anime girls with cute anime voices, and that’s exactly how I like it. The monster models are fun and creative, even if a vast majority of their designs are all recycled from other games in the series.
The same goes for the dungeons. I had to do a double-take at one point to make sure I was playing a new game, as a few of the maps are seriously just ripped from earlier titles.
There’s paying homage to the roots of your series, and then there’s straight-up just copy/pasting things. Funnily enough, they try to offer an in-universe explanation for this, but it’s obvious that it was done for convenience’s sake more than anything. The music is at least fantastic, though a lot of the tracks are just remixes from older songs in the series.
This bothers me a bit less than the recycled maps and monsters, though, since a lot of effort was clearly put into revitalizing these old songs and making them sound completely badass. I’ve always loved Etrian Odyssey’s soundtracks, and it’s good to see that Nexus is no slouch in that department.
The gameplay fares well, having all the best features from the previous titles, sans the fun airship adventures from Etrian Odyssey 3. Nexus has a simple overworld instead, allowing you to easily travel between different areas as you see fit.
A majority of the classes from older games return, with a new Hero class adding to the roster. In total, there are nineteen to choose from, which is awesome, even if some of them feel a bit redundant.
In my experience, the Hero seems pretty overpowered, with the ability to make mirror images of his/herself to attack enemies. There are also a bunch of subclasses to choose from once you’ve progressed to a certain level, adding further to the strategy of party building.
The core gameplay remains largely untouched, with your party of anime girl adventurers trudging through various dungeons and battling monsters. The map making function returns, as expected, allowing you to use the bottom screen of the 3DS to chart your progress.
As in previous games, you can set it to auto-map, making it so you don’t have to draw each individual wall in a dungeon. You still do need to place markers for specific points of interest, however.
Nexus has a feature where you are rewarded for delivering completed maps and monster data to a guild in town, which is great for completionists. It gives you an incentive to record every single square of every single dungeon, which is a nice addition, if a minor one.
The combat is still your standard Etrian Odyssey fare, with random encounters taking place after the danger meter fills up. This was my first time playing one of these games on the easiest difficulty, and I can say with certainty that playing this way completely ruins all the fun. You can win every battle by simply setting your party members to auto-attack, and even the FOEs and bosses are a joke.
Anything above Easy presents a satisfying amount of challenge, however, and you’ll have to do a fair bit of grinding and leveling to proceed. Figuring out which classes work best in tandem is fun, though, and you even get an item akin to an EXP share from Pokemon, that levels up the units you leave back at the base as you gain experience.
The story in Etrian Odyssey Nexus is nothing special, as your created party members never speak or interact with characters in game. You will have NPCs travel with you occasionally through the dungeons, but none of them are particularly interesting or compelling. It would have been nice to have the last title on the 3DS boast an actual story mode, but it doesn’t ruin the overall experience.
It’s been a long ride since the first Etrian Odyssey game on the original DS, over ten years in fact. As such, it’s a little sad to see Nexus be the final title in the series on a handheld console. Whether or not the games come to the Switch, they’ll surely never be the same without a dual-screen setup.
Etrian Odyssey Nexus is a satisfying culmination of all the games thus far, even if there’s very little to set it apart from its predecessors. Wherever the series goes next, I hope there is at least enough of a change to shake up the all-too-familiar formula these games are known for.
Etrian Odyssey Nexus was reviewed on Nintendo 3DS using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.