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Etrian Odyssey IV Demo Impressions

The long awaited Etrian Odyssey IV: The Legends Of The Titan from Atlus is set to release later this month and, what with the demo having just been released, I thought it only right to take a look let you know what to expect.

There are two difficulties to chose from, Normal and Casual. Naturally, Normal is for those seeking a challenge while enjoying the story. Casual provides less of a challenge, just letting you absorb Atlus’ efforts with scriptwriting. Interestingly, Casual also lets you pick and choose which depleted items can be returned upon revival from a game over – which now places you back in the city of Tharsis instead of crippling you completely.

You’re also given a wide variety of classes to choose from – as you may well have noticed through our coverage of the class teases. You can pick from seven different classes, each with their own specialities that need to be learnt – along with understood as some work better on the frontline over the rear. You’ll also be able to customise them pretty extensively, but as this is the demo you can imagine the options and funds were quite limited.

Picking a Landsknecht places you in an advantage at the front with their swordsmen skills while Medics – who specialise in healing – could work well on either line. Ranged attackers, known as Nightseekers, also work best on both lines, but the attack and healing happy Dancer class work better at the front. The defence adept Fortress class also work well on either line and Sniper class characters work far better on the back line along with elemental attackers, Runemasters.

After choosing your party, it’s time to set out and do some damage. Heading out to the woods is where you’ll be introduced to skill points and skill point distribution. You’ll be given three points to divvy out, and then another point with each level you gain from then on out – much like many other RPGs really. Except in EOIV each class has their own unique skill tree, meaning you’ll have to be more thoughtful with doling out points as these aren’t your normal sliding scales. Interestingly, some skills are shared between classes and if more than one team member has the same skill, the effects are stacked – a useful feature that should definitely be leveraged.

Dungeon exploration in EOIV can feel somewhat claustrophobic due to the decision to place you in a first-person view, similar to old PC RPGs found before the world of 3D modelling. Utilising the bottom touchscreen is key to working out your surroundings as you can designate walls, hotspots and points of interest, should you wish to venture back. There’s even an auto-walk feature to aid you in trudging back and forth through dungeons.

Naturally, exploring dungeons is a dangerous task. So dangerous, in fact, that you’ll end up in battles fairly often, but you’ll always know when one’s about to appear thanks to a handy gauge in the bottom right corner. Battles work in your standard turn-based affair, giving you command of each team member as you bash out some attacks. If this doesn’t really take your fancy at the time, a quick press of the left shoulder button sees the fight play out automatically – pretty handy if you easily overpower your foe.

Occasionally there are enemies who appear onscreen instead of tucked away in the invisible world of random battles. You’ll be able to tell just how powerful they are by glancing at your map, where a differing colour indicates strength. It’s here you’ll also see their field of vision, meaning that you can sneak past them if you work well. The caveat? They move one space when you do, so it’s quite a task to ensure you get past unnoticed – think of it like a cat and mouse mini-puzzle of sorts.

The demo also seems to give you a taste of the world from the luxurious vantage of a Skyship, completing side-quests, picking up supplies and venturing a little further into the story. While this section is pretty much up to your own decisions, I decided to do a little bit of exploring and hit the demo’s level cap of Level 10. But in doing so I noticed that you can use food to distract the aforementioned hulking beasts and gain money from selling any food left behind – a nice way to earn money perhaps?

Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan definitely has the potential to be a successful 3DS RPG based on our first impressions with the demo. Naturally the demo tends to show a game in its best light, but I can’t really imagine how EOIV could be any other way from what’s been shown. If our words haven’t swayed you into checking out Atlus’ upcoming title, then it may be worth giving the demo a going over – after all, it carries over the save to the full game.

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