The first two Etrian Odyssey games from Japanese developer Atlus were pretty good – slightly flawed, but definitely an indicator that something extremely special might be happening with this series, and Etrian Odyssey III was that miracle, it being the pinnacle of the series so far, in my humble opinion. A brilliant mix of RPG, Dungeon Master, Final Fantasy, and even Sid Meier’s Pirates!, “The Drowned City” (to give the game its full title), was (still is) one of the slickest, deepest, and most punishing RPGs ever made. No doubt about that. Everything about it, from the storyline, to battle mechanics, to rewards, to artwork and animation – it just fucking blew me away. But one thing about the game made it so incredibly difficult to beat: a thing called “gold drops” – special item drops that you get from killing bosses a certain way. Without them it can take a long time to get anywhere, and this game is absolutely nails hard in places. The monsters in the game are brilliant in their variety and deviance, and different ones come out day and night, so you are constantly kept on your toes. When you’re playing an RPG and you’re out of your depth in tough monster land, it a can get very, VERY tense. Which it does quite often in Etrian Odyssey III.
So why am I still talking about a six year old game? One: because a game is forever, not just for Christmas. And two: because I still haven’t beaten it yet. And I feel as though I must. Before I die… [laughing here]. I’ve completed all the main story quests, but there is an extra quest to complete that I could not beat on previous attempts, and keep thinking of going back to… A special ‘expert’ quest involving the slaying of three dragons. I’ve tried killing all three on numerous occasions, but not even come close. I may need to rise another ten levels before I’ll be a match for them… Who knows? Bah. A level-grinder’s life is never easy!
One way of taming the game (to a certain extent) is by playing on an emulator with quicksaves, which will lessen the “gold drop” burden. It’s difficult to explain without playing the game, but it’s important. I got my arse kicked playing the game on a regular DS. I could just about keep my head above water in an emu. If you want a nightmare hardcore, RPG-survival challenge then this bastard is one to consider acquiring and playing, if you haven’t already.