Sunday, September 18, 2011


Etrian Odyssey III

It's autumn! Time to bake bread, pour caramel syrup in your apple juice, and play a dungeon crawl! This year, we've got a little number called Etrian Odyssey III.

I bought Etrian Odyssey III because someone told me that it's all about drawing a map of a maze, which is completely correct. The maze is displayed on the top screen in glorious 3D, and the bottom screen is a piece of electronic graph paper. You paint in the corridors, pencil in the walls, and drop in little pictures of doors and staircases and other important landmarks.

This is completely satisfying.

Of course, along the way there are monsters you have to murder, and afterward you can collect bits of their bodies to take back to the shop and sell for the money you'll need to buy the armor, weapons, and magic potions that have been made from the bits of body that you've sold them. It's the circle of life. Poetry.

You create your own party using whatever characters you like and teach them whatever skills you think will be most useful. This is also completely satisfying. The only thing that could make it better is if they somehow managed to simultaneously make it a first-person maze-crawling adventure and an overhead roguelike where combat plays out like a board game where movement and position affects your strategy. Unfortunately, they didn't accomplish the impossible, so combat is of the Dragon Quest variety -- an encounter takes you to a different screen, where everyone is in range of everyone else and the only tactical decision you can make is to divide your party into a front row and a back row, with the back row being slightly less likely to draw monsters' attention.

There's also a narrative to Etrian Odyssey III, and based on what I've heard about the series and what I've seen so far of this game, I'm going to take a stab at it and say that the moral of the story is that man is the worst monster of all, which is important to keep in mind and everything, but not exactly novel at this point.

No, all I want to do is draw a map of a maze. If the game designers have decided to place an unspeakable genocide between me and this objective, that's their own sick fetish. This is my free time and we're all just playing make-believe, so to hell with your morality play. I've got some corridors to paint.


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