Once More I Walk this Dangerous Path

Arrgh! Etrian Odyssey! Again!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Etrian Odyssey. However, I would guess that even the series’ most ardent fans (a group I generally consider myself a part of) would agree that frustration is a large part of the series’ charm. Etrian Odyssey is never easy but it is rarely unfair. It gives the player a set of tools, a goal and an obstacle then leaves them alone.

The tools are the classes, the obstacle is the labyrinth and the goal is the bottom. Or top in the case of Etrian Odyssey 2. Despite the series cutesy anime trappings, there is little to no JRPG bullcrap, such as cut scenes and other such nonsense. E.O. is a hands off game. Once your party is created, the game is not going to tell you if you are doing it tight. Your progress is entirely up to you. There is only one way to go — down — but how you get there is up to you.

Unfortunately, that freedom of choice means that you can choose wrong. Not permanently, as you can conscript new party members at any time or respec the ones you have, but it is a lot of work to replace a character that is not pulling their weight. The labyrinth is a puzzle that must be solved and the correct solution on Floor 9 may no longer be correct on Floor 14.

My current problem is the introduction of subclasses in Etrian Odyssey 3. Here I am, halfway through the game, with a perfectly crafted, finely tuned party, when all of a sudden my party options more than double. And as I always do in the face of important decisions, I did what comes naturally to me. I froze like a deer in the headlights and put the game down for 8 months. Now I have picked the game back up, all but randomly selected some subclasses and pressed further into the labyrinth.

Now I have to choose which side of a conflict I will side with. Maybe I should shuffle my party around before I choose. My farmer isn’t doing a whole lot anymore. Maybe I need an Arbalest. Onward and downward.

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