Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection HD is a superb compilation of the first 3 games in the long-running ATLUS dungeon-crawler series. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d enjoy any of them again. I’d played each game individually in the past on the DS and 3DS respectively, but I never finished any of them. Certainly not to 100% completion. That is, not until this HD Collection graced my Nintendo Switch. Here are 5 reasons why
The Second Screen Configuration is Well Thought Out
How they managed to figure out the 2nd screen gives me hope for the rest of ATLUS’ DS and 3DS catalogue. For the screen itself, you can either have half the real estate taken up by the map, or you can view the dungeons in widescreen. The second option makes for great appreciation of the updates, but it isn’t very practical for cartography and exploration. However, for a self-mapping game like Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux or SMT 4, this is something that would be great for atmospherics.
Additionally, button configuration was given much consideration. Consoles use the extra ZL and ZR triggers to take the place of what would be handled by a stylus.
The Colors and Art Direction Really Shine in these Enhanced Ports
Etrian Odyssey’s art has always been quite good even on the smaller screens. However, the HD treatment brings the vibrancy of the games to life in a way that was not possible before. Even the title screens of the games with updated textures are great and set the tone for the enhancements throughout. Also, much of the enemy art was redrawn for the games; I didn’t appreciate that fact until I took a look at the originals.
Yuzo Koshiro’s Chiptune Soundtrack Comes to Life
Legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro of Streets of Rage (and countless other games) fame is responsible for the music of the Etrian Odyssey series. As usual, his compositions are artistically excellent and fit the mood of the various labyrinth sections quite well. I’ve listened to the track through both noise cancelling headphones and a high-end soundbar, and the music really holds up well. If/when they make the Untold versions of the games playable with the symphonic arrangements, we will be in for an aural treat!
The Quality of Life Enhancements Improve The Playability Considerably
As I mentioned earlier, I never finished the original versions of the games. I would get so far and then move on to another game (likely Persona or Monster Hunter). The QoL enhancements really helped me get through each of the games at a good pace. Reducing the difficulty easily conquers most of the well-known sticking points from the original versions (i.e. the dragons).
The Ability to Play the Games Back to Back Enhances the Overarching Story
I never really considered that the Etrian Odyssey games would have a cohesive storyline when I played the original versions. When you start any of the games you are just a plucky adventurer with no concept of the labyrinth’s mysteries beyond your own curiosity. There is never a sense that a larger theme exists until later. Much of the plot doesn’t come into focus until the final dungeons, and truthfully it’s a twist that comes much too late for some like myself who gave up before the final moments.
A Couple of things for ATLUS to Consider for EO Origins Collection 2 and Beyond
More Icons are Needed
There are obvious pros and cons to the changes made to the cartography icons. Good because you know what each thing means and you know what to expect. Bad in the late game where they are more tricky things happening with warps. Having a slate of numbers from 0 to 9 like the original would have been helpful.
The Untold Elephant in the Room
These games are obviously not the remade Untold versions of the games. As such, they are missing upgraded features introduced there. These include a story throughout, defined characters, animated cutscenes, alterations to skill acquisition, 3D enemies in the vein of EO4/5/Nexus, and more.
The Value Vs. the Price Tag is Debatable
I hate to say this, but the ATLUS tax is in full effect here. Yes, I paid the $80 cost at launch to own all three, but it is definitely a deterrent to gamers who aren’t as familiar with the franchise but might want to check it out. As of this writing, the games are still hovering around that price.
Overall, Etrian Odyssey Collection HD is well worth your time. The care put into these titles to update them to HD is apparent, and the amount of content in each game is extensive. However, the price for such aged games will deter some.