Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection (Switch) Review


Having never played an Etrian Odyssey game before, I had no real idea that I was in for such an old-school feeling first-person RPG that I had not played since my PC days in the early nineties. As the series celebrates 16 years since the original game on the DS, the Origins Collection gives fans a chance to revisit the game while also adding enough for newcomers to get into the series for the first time.

At its core, the Etrian Odyssey series is a turn-based RPG, with a heavy focus on completing missions from NPCs and fully exploring dungeons, forests, caves, and a variety of other areas. The biggest aspect of each title is map creation. Despite the original games being released in the late 2000’s, this aspect felt like a big throwback to the RPGs of old, where I had to bust out some graph paper I stole from the maths faculty at my high school and utilise it to draw my own maps and keep track of where I’ve explored before. Thankfully, while the touch controls remain intact from the DS versions, you can use the shoulder buttons and the right stick to manually draw the maps in either handheld or TV mode. The game will keep track of each square you move to, but you will need to fill in the finer details such as walls, doors, stairs, and notable objects.

As the main part of the game aside from battling, drawing maps is probably the aspect that is either going to make or break someone’s decision to stick with it. While I enjoy making sure everything in the games I play is fully explored and that I am only satisfied when I see a big 100% sitting next to my save file, I have to say that completing every map is going to take hours upon hours. It is one for the patient, and is aided by the fact that it can be played handheld, meaning drawing a map here and there in short bursts might be the best way to play to avoid fatigue.

Story wise, the first game involves exploring a labyrinth called the Yggdrasil Labyrinth (seemingly named after the World Tree in Norse Mythology) that has suddenly appeared outside of a small town of Etria. The second has a party of adventurers exploring the labyrinth in order to reach a castle in the sky, whereas the third tasks the exploration of the ocean in order to find an ancient city at the bottom. The party in each game is motivated by the prospect of riches to help out the locals in each title. Although basic at its core, the idea of each game is to imprint your own thoughts on your party and the plot progression.

Battling feels aesthetically a lot like a Dragon Quest game. Deeper though, it is much more strategic. The game warns you from the get-go that life will not be a picnic in battle, and if you are playing on the Expert difficulty, based on the original game, you’re going to have to tough it out just to beat the first floor in the game. Decisions in every battle are important, including where each party member is positioned the combinations of classes you bring to battle, every decision counts.

Recognising that purists may not be as into the difficult battling, and for those that are more into mapping all the levels, there are two new difficulty levels for the remaster. One is designed like a story mode, where battles are so easy that auto battle takes care of most of them, and the other difficulty level striking a balance between ease and strategic battling.

Other new introductions for the remaster include a remastered soundtrack which sounds great. There are also some quality-of-life inclusions like being able to access the Monstrous Codex and skill tree with greater ease. The games are based on the original DS version, and not the 3DS remakes so any improvements in those games are absent in this release, though this version seems to stand on its own simply fine.

The HD graphics all look fantastic in this iteration, with high quality illustrations of NPCs and monsters rounding out a rather good-looking experience. The environments look crystal clear, though there is no real variety within each of the levels. I understand the idea that without creating your own map, things can get lost without any landmarks, but it makes the games look bland when exploring each level. This is the same for discovering secret passages in the maps, you have to click on every wall to find anything as there is no subtle differences in any of the areas to offer clues for exploration.


The games do hit well, however, in its character customisation options. The Etrian Odyssey games allow you to use skill points throughout to customise characters to your own play style. For those playing on the harder difficulties, planning your skills in advance is almost essential, as going down the wrong path with a particular skill tree can mean hours of additional grinding for experience. There is a level cap, so the amount of skill points available is limited, meaning that characters will not be able to gain every skill in their own path, which amplifies the need for planning ahead.

The Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection was an interesting title to review. As a newcomer to the series, it was a daunting series to get into without having played this style of dungeon crawler in over a decade. The benefits of including easier modes for people who just want to explore what the dungeons have on offer should not be discounted, but with a notebook, some grid paper, plenty of patience, and a willingness to experiment and try different strategies in battle makes for a compelling trilogy. However, if you do not the patient type of player, or if excessive exploration and dungeon crawling for minimal plot do not sound all that appealing, it may not be the title for you.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Good

+ Vibrant, beautiful graphics
+ Old-school dungeon crawling appeal
+ Planning and mapping can be fun

The Bad

- Environments look very samey
- May feel too old-school
- Planning and mapping can be tedious

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Final Thoughts

The Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection was an interesting title to review. As a newcomer to the series, it was a daunting series to get into without having played this style of dungeon crawler in over a decade.

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About The Author
Brad Long
I yell about pro wrestling, ice hockey and rugby league directly into the internet.

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