Until this very day, the Etrian Odyssey game series has a special place in my heart and mind.
When I was younger, I did not own a Gameboy DS and missed out on a few cool games to play. I begged my mother, I begged my father, but it was no use. A year later the DSLite came out and the same events repeated with my father giving in to my begging and to my addiction with all games related to Pokemon. Christmas came and I unpacked the Present to take out the DSLite plus the game “Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Blue Rescue Team”. It was my first introduction to the DS games and I was amazed by how it worked. A menu from which you could choose the game, a chatroom to talk to people nearby that you know or don’t know and a few other things I now don’t remember anymore. I am now 24 and these events where about 10 years ago so my memory isn’t all that good. But what I do remember is that I got, 2 years later, a game that I would love forever.
Etrian Odyssey was a game like no other, I played. It reminded me of the ratmaze you saw as a screensaver on old PCs sometimes. But it was much larger than just one maze. When you first entered the game you were asked to create your own guild and make yourself a group of at the very least 1 person. I was thinking about a good name for my guild and people and decided that I did not want to choose a name of what I knew. That would have been boring. And so I have chosen the name “Katerra”. I never played this game so I created a group of 7 only to realise that I could only take 5 people with me. The five I took with me where:
- Landsknecht - “Akira” ; The one to deal damage and be on the frontline.
- Protector - “Sarah” ; The one to shield front and backline and make sure people survive.
- Alchemist - “Mei” ; To deal Elemental Damage and make sure my group could defend itself against it.
- Medic - “Nika” ; To heal my wounded people and make sure to revive them if they were knocked out.
- Troubadour - “Yen” ; To grant buffs in speed, defense and attack.
This was my team and I wanted to explore every bit of the “Labyrinth of Etria” as they called it. A fantasy world to explore and I would be the one to guide them towards a new area, every time. Before I could enter, I had to speak to the “Radha Council” so I would be allowed to enter at all. I got a mission to map out a section of the first floor in the first area. Map out a section of the first floor? The game had this feature that would make it impossible for you to traverse the labyrinth, without it. You had to make your own maps. I never saw this in a game before and loved it. This made the game special for me, not knowing any better. And so I completed the mission and played through all 5 areas. Each area had a boss and each boss was harder to kill.
The first boss was Fenrir, who lived in the forest of the first area.
The next boss was Cernunnos, who was the guardian of the Jungle and its inhabitants.
The third boss actually wasn’t the main boss. It was a boss on the second floor of the third area. The Royal Ant. Then the actual boss came and it was a Mantaray named “Cotrangle” who lived in the blue swamp.
The fourth boss was “Iwaopeln”, a giant Bird and guardian of the “Forestfolk”, as I called them, of area four. A dead forest (or at least that is what it looked like).
And the fifth boss was no other but the boss of the “Radha Council” fused together with what once created the Labyrinth. The World Tree Yggdrasil. But the name of the boss was “Etreant”.
After I defeated Iwaopeln, I was allowed to continue to the fifth area. I was wondering what would come next. Forest, Jungle, Swamp and Dead Forest. What now? Ice? I couldn’t think of much. But when I stepped into the new area I couldn’t believe my Eyes. Not only was the name of the area “Lost Shinjuku”, which could’ve been coincidence, but the walls of this area were made out of stone and looked like modern ruins. That, and the fact that I saw broken Windows to the left of me. I just stepped into our world in the far future. This blew my mind. But, as amazed as I was, I had to continue. And so I found myself already in a new bossfight. What I didnt mention above, were two members of the council who would now stand in my way to prevent me from going any further. Their names were “Ren”, a female Ronin and “Tlachtga”, a female Hexer. They proved to be a challenge but they were nothing compared to what I experienced in this area.
The last boss gave me a lot of trouble. So much trouble that I died countless of times fighting him. I just was not prepared and so I went back into the upper floors and areas to level and grind for materials to make weapons and armor. This is also how I found out about the optional areas and the optional bosses. This game was getting even better. One boss however was special. It was in the jungle in a tiny room in the middle of a big room. The room was covered with thorns that would hurt me when I touched them. When I healed up and went into the smaller room. I was greeted with the optional boss “Alraune”. A plant, or rather a flower, fused together with a girl from the Forestfolk. Considering my level, it was not a hard fight so I was a bit sad that I didn’t find her before. In fact, I was hoping to talk to her as the Forestfolk, after defeating Cotrangle, actually talked to me as well, trying to make leave the Labyrinth. But sadly, it did not happen.
After a few days worth of grinding and leveling, even using two new Guild-members with the Ronin and Hexer Class that I unlocked by going through the optional areas, I went back down to the Etreant. The fight was long and my members were knocked out many times. But in the end I had beaten the game. The credits rolled and I was asked to save the game. I did and continued and was surprised to be back in town. I went back into the Labyrinth as I was curious if the Etreant was still there, as per usual in RPGs. The last boss would be the last hurdle and it would always save before the fight begins so you could do it over and over again. But to my surprise, I found an empty boss-room and a new path leading further down. A sixth area, below the Ground. I could only make it to the second floor and it was simply too hard for me. At this point I was already 17 and I was allowed to be on the PC more often. And so I left the game for a while, wanting to continue, later. But in the years to come, that didn’t happen. Instead I picked up the only other Etrian Odyssey game available in germany. Etrian Odyssey 4. It was not as good as the first one, heh; first game always amazes you the most, but it was still good and enjoyable. But it ended the same way as the first and I left it with the other game. I was now 21 and I saw news of a remake of the first game, with a new feature known as “story mode”. I was hyped and couldn’t wait to play it. Watching some videos of the first few minutes of the gameplay introduced me to the cast, how it would work and how it looked. The first game in shiny 3D with the monsters animated and portraits of the cast when conversations would begin. This sparked my interest to play the old game again. I took my 3DS and the old game and loaded it up. Again I went back to grind, for levels, parts and money. Killing monsters and bosses left and right only to get down to the last boss. Which I never have beaten even after trying so hard. The area was just impossible to get through. The monsters I encountered were strong and the elite monsters were about as strong as the bosses were. I never saw what the boss looked like and never would until the new game would come out. Because when it finally came out, which was a few months after, I stopped playing the old and bought it instantly. I waited since 2 pm, until 8pm or so until the download was finished (Bad internet says hello) only to take it into my room, lock the door and start it up. The waiting has bored me so much that I actually was a little bit tired. I opened the window for some fresh and cold air to be wide awake when I would play the game. When I turned on the 3DS again I noticed that the light for the battery was red, which was no surprise to be honest after the long time it was turned on, so I took my charger and connected it to the 3DS. The orange lamp showed that it did in fact charge and I started up the game.
And here is where the game surprised me already. A Intro cutscene plus fitting music with fairly good anime-like animations was on the screen. It showed me the main city, venturing into the forest, the new dungeons and the cast, as well as the characters in the city and the council. What did upset me though about the game is that they simply spoiled it all by introducing the boss of the council directly as someone that would be surrounded by bad stuff. I mean, his assistant leaves and it goes all dark and his eyes go red? That’s just a clear indication and, to be honest bad storytelling. But there was even more that spoiled literally everything later in the game so I will just keep the rant to myself.
When I finally started a new game I was all alone. I was again in a cutscene, entering the city. I directly went to the Radha Council that had summoned me for an important mission. But before I could do anything about the mission I had to do the same little tutorial mission from the first game. So I went into the Labyrinth, accompanied by a Level 30 Ren and a Level 30 Tlachtga, to make the first map. It was quite boring as most of the enemies were fleeing or killed due to Ren and Tlachtga’s level. However it gave me insight as to what class I was and what my skills and weapons were. I was a Highlander who would mainly use a spear and spear related skills. This was not in the old game, but hey, this was the story mode right? In the end I drew the map as before and went back to report it. Ren and Tlachtga left my group and finally I could get into the new dungeon called “Gladsheim”. A futuristic looking place, similar to Shinjuku. Going through it, I encountered monsters over and over again. But again, they simply tried to flee. Now, that was not an unusual thing. I knew that in the old game some enemies would flee when their health went to a very low point. And maybe this was part of the story and they had to be triggered to attack. I went into the next room and saw a device that looked fairly strange. I knew it had to be a device from the past but I didn’t know what it was. Upon activating it a cutscene played in which I, the character, activated the device and released the now new member of the group known as “Frederica” who was another new class known as “Gunner”. Now I realised what the device was. It was a cryostasis chamber and she was to wait for this very day to wake up in the future. But she couldn’t remember anything at all. “Well isn’t that a coincidence.” I thought to myself. You spoil the game so much and yet you won’t give us that? Anyways.
Suddenly three more people came into the room and towards me and Frederica who introduced them-self as a team of investigators and offered us their help. There was Simon, the medic; Arthur, the Alchemist and Raquna, the Protector. We could not talk much since now, all of the sudden, a creature ran in and attacked us. It was an elite monster, but with a full group it was no problem to beat it. Especially since our medic could attack, as well as heal. Having killed the monster we continued to explore but couldn’t get much further and went back to town. I reported on what happened and explained that we needed to get further into the Labyrinth. Before I went in however I went to the Inn and get my characters some rest. When they woke up after the hours spent there the innkeeper talked to me and said that I should look out in the forest. Recently the monsters acted fairly strange and he thought that this had to do with the dream of some princess. I had to look that up, via the internet app on the 3DS, because this just seemed strange. But there actually was a quest about this. A young princess had bad dreams that were caused by creatures in the forest. But it was a quest for the later game so this was most likely just the game’s way of introducing it. “Huh, interesting?” I thought to myself and continued into the Labyrinth. Again the monsters mainly tried to flee when I encountered them. Most of them were small forest animals and I thought that this maybe was now their behavior. After all, one or two rats wouldn’t just attack a group of five that looked fairly dangerous. Reaching Floor 2, I realised that I could not find any elite monsters of which there were normally quite a few. A few bulls and deers if my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. But, even without finding any, I simply continued. I reached floor 3 and again found no elites. The monsters behaved the same way they did before, even the larger ones. Upon reaching floor 4 I finally spotted my first elite monster. A wolf, looking exactly like in the old game, just in shiny 3D and in a idle animation. When I got closer the usual thing happened. Whenever an aggressive elite would spot you, they would run after you. However this one did not. He actually ran away. Maybe he was leading me into a trap! Considering this, I decided not to follow him and instead went down to the next floor. Floor 5 after all would contain the boss and even more deadly creatures. But, again, all of them were fleeing. This was actually the most boring Etrian Odyssey I ever played. Was this actually part of an event ingame? If yes, it was stupid and boring and I would not want to even restart this game once. I mean, in all honesty, if you make a game or a remake of a game and do something like this, you will bore the hell out of your customers. And so minutes later I stood in front of the boss door. I was underleveled, not well geared and I did not even have that many potions with me. But, hell, if it was this easy so far I should not have any problems, right?
I continued into the room and there was a cutscene with Fenrir jumping in front of us just before the fight started. And that is when I noticed something. Usually, when the fight starts, the map displays other wolves coming to assist their leader. But no wolf showed up. Fenrir howled over and over but no wolf came to assist him. What was going on here? This fight was far too easy. This actually did upset me, but there was no way of returning the game on the eshop. And even if there was, I was too lazy to look it up. Having finished the fight I went to the next floor to activate the teleporter to get to Gladsheim. I will make it short and say that the same things happened, that happened before. I went back to town, having to report on the events in gladsheim and decided to gear up, sleep and save. Maybe now the actual challenge would begin. Maybe this was all part of the story mode right?
But, even if hope dies last, it dies eventually just as well. Floor 1 of Area 2 was about as boring as the first area. That is until I reached Floor 2. Now Floor 2 was a usually small area at first with an additional area that you could only access later on. It was the area that I named “Alraunes Throneroom”. And instead of finding the path to get further down, it lead me right into the Throneroom. This time however, all the vines were gone and I could go straight towards her room without taking any damage. This was just getting more and more strange. First the enemies that don’t attack, then the elites that flee and then the boss who was super easy to kill. Maybe now, it would all be explained as this, most certainly, was not the usual path. Perhaps Alraune would act as the trigger to change the current Labyrinth back to normal. And so I entered her room only to see her new 3D model right in front of me. And then something happened that surprised me, even though I expected something unusual to happen.
A textbox appeared as per usual when you would start a conversation with someone. At the same time the soundtrack, that I loved from the original began to play "Red and Black". This normaly indicated that something bad was going to happen or that a "evil" presence was past the next door. But never did a boss but the very endboss talk to me. And this creature was part of the Forestfolk, so maybe the game was simply trying to confuse the player. Heck, who knew what they changed in the storymode. All four character portraits of the mains showed up above the textbox plus a portrait of the old-school 2D Alraune. Oh boy, now it would happen. Now it would be explained!
Alraune: “Well, well, well. Who do we have here?”
Frederica: *Surprised* “Y-you can talk?”
Alraune: “Ahaha. Of course I can talk you dumb little thing.”
Raquna: *Tense* “What are you? And how can you talk?”
Alraune: “I am a beautiful flower, as you can see. And I don’t think I have to tell you all my secrets, now do I~?”
Simon: *Neutral* “Lets calm down everyone.”
Simon: *Neutral* “You are a creature called “Alraune”. I have read about your kind in the library.”
Alraune: “Oh, so your race is able to learn~”
Simon: *Confused* “What do you mean?”
Alraune: “A few years ago, someone has visited this Labyirnth with good intentions.”
Alraune: “But when he couldnt get further he began to terrorize the creatures of the Labyrinth.”
Frederica: *Concerned* “I am sorry to hear that. But we are not here to do anything like this. I promise.”
Alraune: “Oh I am fairly sure that your intentions are as good as his. After all it is the same goal you share.”
Raquna: *Confused* “The same goal? Is there someone else exploring Gladsheim? Is he in the forest right now?”
Alraune: “Of course he is. He is right here~”
Having read that I pressed A and the portrait of my character showed up. So my character was a bad guy? But this was his first time in the forest.
Alraune: “A few years ago he came into the Labyrinth to get rid of all evil. We were blocking the way as it was our home.”
Alraune: “As time passed we were able to recover and return only to be struck down by him again.”
Frederica: *Angry* “You are a liar! He would never do something like this!”
Arthur: *Angry* “Exactly! Do you really think that we believe you? He is a Highlander!”
Wait, Arthur was right. I made my choice on the Highlander code. I have chosen the "Justice" option which lead to a dialogue saying that it meant "True Justice for all". Basically it was a code of honor, to not blindly judge and kill but to bring Justice to those that deserve to be struck down. So, even if he was in the forest before the games events, he would not have terrorized the creatures.
Alraune: “You are as dumb as you look~ But it doesn’t matter as you won’t be able to corrupt the world with your stupidity anymore.”
Simon: *Concerned* “What do you mean with that?”
Alraune: “Isn’t it obvious? I thought you were the smart one~ I am going to kill all of you~”
The screen flashed white 4 times and a sound played as if the characters were attacked. One after the next, the portraits vanished and now the portrait of my character showed up next to the one of Alraune. This was most certainly going in an interesting direction. Maybe, Alraune would trigger all of the creatures to finally attack once she died. It would surely be no battle between me and her, so maybe Ren and Tlachtga would show up and kill her to save us.
Alraune: “It has been a while, hasn’t it?”
Alraune: “So much time has past and yet, shortly after your last visit I see you with a new group of people.”
Alraune: “What did you do to your old group? Katerra was it's name right?”
My eyes widened. I put the 3DS away and rubbed my eyes. Was me being tired affecting what I saw? It happened to me once before and I saw some weird text only to realise that it wasnt the text but me being tired. I took the 3DS back into my hand and read the text again. No, there it was. Katerra, the name of my guild from the original game. Was this another new feature that checked for a save file on the 3DS and acted accordingly if there was one? I mean, the devs made it a game where you had to grind, even bosses, for completion. So maybe this was just another cool feature, even though it creeped me out a little. But, hey! If that was their goal? Good job!
Alraune: “I don’t really care for what you did with them. I only care for what you did to us.”
The screen flashed red, the sound file of being attacked played and the portrait of a shocked Raquna showed up, only to vanish a second after. Did she just… Noooooo.
Alraune: “You came here for your first time and had one goal. To save the world.”
Alraune: “But when you couldn’t get any further, you just had to find a wall to break down.”
The screen flashed red again with the same sound file being played. But this time it was Arthur. Is she actually killing them? They were already knocked out, as far as I could tell. Is she killing my team?!
Alraune: “You had to come to the ones that have hidden deep within the Labyrinth only to find more things to get stronger.”
Alraune: “You just couldn’t leave us be. You just couldn’t let us have the peace we deserved.”
Once again the screen flashed red and the sound file played. Simon was the one who died this time. What the fuck was going on?! Was this part of the event? Is this like a dream, like the dreams the princess was dreaming? I was about to turn of the 3DS because this was just getting too much. As my finger touched the slider, I immediately pulled it away again. It was just me and Frederica now, right? So if Ren and Tlachtga would come to save us, even the ones that were killed and revive them, I would just miss out on it and would never touch it again. Because after this, I would surely just let the game rot on my memory card. Especially if the game would be like this after this event. Oh god dammit! I would bite myself in the ass if I would missed that! I pressed A to continue the dialogue.
Alraune: “You just had to turn around. It was so easy for you, but instead you just came back over and over again.”
Alraune: “When you have beaten me once, I returned as a small flower only to see you, checking if I had recovered already.”
Alraune: “What happened to your good intentions? Why did you turn like this?”
I knew what was about to happen, but instead of it simply flashing I got two options. “Protect Frederica” and “Wait”. I immediately chose the first. Why would I wait and let her die as well? She was a good companion and as for the game I considered her as a friend of my character by now.
Alraune: “You protect her? Oh my…”
Alraune: “Now you know how we felt. How Cernnunos and Iwaopeln felt.”
But it didnt matter what I had pressed. The screen simply flashed again, but this time 3 times instead of one. Frederica was attacked multiple times and killed in the end, showing of the same shocked portrait I saw before for the others.
Alraune: “And now you have nothing left. Just like us. But don’t you think about revenge.”
Alraune: “Your life will end here, together with your friends you will become food for the Labyrinth.”
Alraune: “And they will know that the danger won’t be able to return anymore.”
With that said, suddenly everything around me went black. When my alarm clock gave of the loudest of sounds in the morning I woke up with a groan that was about as loud. I stopped the alarm and looked around my room, as I usually do after waking up. That is when I noticed the charging 3DS on the floor next to my bed. And that is as well where all my memories from the night came back. I picked the 3DS up as fast as I could only to find myself in the menu screen. Why was I in the menu screen? The last thing I could remember was me, being in a deadly conversation with Alraune. And I did save after killing Fenrir. Where was my savefile? I switch the 3DS off and on to check if something went wrong. But after starting the game again there was still no option to continue. For a few minutes I sat there, silent, thinking about what happened. The more I thought about it, the less it made sense. Until a thought came up that made me laugh. It was all a dream! I was so tired when I finally finished the download that I couldn’t even get past the menu screen! And since I knew how everything would look like, from the old game and the gameplay footage my dream simply showed me something that was a mix from both games! I shut the 3DS off and went out of my room to make some food ready for breakfast. Even if it was a dream, I surely wouldn’t play it right now. I was hungry and the dream was bad enough as it was. After about 3 hours, 2 of them spent on the PC playing Dishonored, I decided to get back to the game I never began. I started it up, went into the story mode and everything was as it was before. Apart from the fact that the enemies now attacked me as per usual in the older game. Suddenly the game became challenging, but nothing I couldn’t beat. After I had the group of five back together I went to the shop to gear myself up. Having collected a few monsterparts and items, I decided to sell them to get some more money as the last weapon just did cost too much. Raquna was the only one who didn’t have a good and new sword while all the others got new weapons. As I went into the list to sell my items, my eyes widened as they spotted the item at the top of the list.
The items name was “Velvet”.
A rare item, that would only drop, from one specific monster.
Written by: Gikame