Not a Review: Etrian Odyssey 3: The Drowned City

I’ve been playing EO3 off and on now for the better part of a year (Editor: now two years…) and I’m only at  the 10th floor of what I believe are twenty five floors in the game. This might convey in some small way just what type of game EO3 is. Atlus games don’t get a lot of press here in the states (or they didn’t before this summer and Nintendo’s big push of Shin Megami Tensei IV on the 3DS), it seems they rely on the internet and their fans to spread the word about their games. That’s how I heard about the EO franchise, and EO3, which at the time was considered the best. I believe EO4 on the 3DS is now has the title of best game in the franchise, a rare feat as most games this far along begin to degrade in quality

The people at Talking Time are huge fans of the series and have been talking about the games since the first one came out in 2007 (Editor: has it been that long?! I’m getting old). I picked up the first one spent maybe an hour or two with the game before I set it down. It sat in its case for half a year and then I sold it.  I believe the difficulty curve of the game and the potential for making poor choices at the beginning of the game that would virtually lock you out of completing it many hours later was what originally turned me off. But, it’s been six years. I avoided the second game completely, despite all the encouragement from critics and friends. My complaints with the original stood and nothing I saw or read dissuaded me.

Screenshots of Etrian Odyssey 3 via Destructoid
Screenshots of Etrian Odyssey 3 via Destructoid

Then EO3 came out. Again, the critics praised the game and all of my friends were busy guiding teams of adventurers through dungeons. I asked if the game’s difficulty curve was fixed. Did it now resemble something more like a hill and less like a sheer cliff face? I asked if they’d balanced out the adventurers, the enemies,  the bosses, and the skill trees to insure that early game mistakes wouldn’t bar players from end-game content. ‘Yes’ and ‘yes’ I was told this game is perfect! I believed them, and I bought it. And, at first things were okay. No, things were good! I made a party of adventurers and then I delved into the dungeons. The game was challenging but also fair. When I died it felt like I was still learning, that difficulty curve seemed to be more the curve I was looking for! Everything was going great!

Then I got to the 10th level, or in the game’s lingo tenth floor basement in the third stratum, there is a boss battle on this floor. I’ve reached the boss now innumerable times., I’ve tried dozens of different strategies from intricate and complicated to sheer brute force. Nothing I have tried has worked. I’ve asked friends for help, I’ve read game guides. Nothing I see seems to apply to me. The advice I’m most often given? “Make a new team with different skills!” BUT WAIT! This was the problem I had with earlier versions of this game! This was the issue I was told had been dealt with!

I guess it hasn’t. It’s a shame too because up until the 10th level I was having a lot of fun, the game’s art and music is charming and the world I’m exploring is unique. I want to spend more time here. But, I don’t want it to feel like I’m smashing my head against a wall.

Occasionally, I put the EO3 cartridge in my DS and I play through level 10, like I always do. I get to the boss and I die. I reload my game, I grind a little, and try again. I die. I turn my DS off and I go watch some TV. And that kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

Beer of the Week 46: Le Merle

North Coast Brewing Company’s Le Merle

From the bottle:

Le Merle is an elegant ale, pale in color, inspired by the rich brewing traditions of the Flanders region. Abundant hops and a Belgian yeast strain contribute the exotic aromas of tropical fruit.

From my notes:

Clear, straw color with a thing, fine, bright, white head. Medium carbonation. Floral, tropical fruit and yeast on the nose, mild hop taste immediately on the tongue that settles into bread, pepper, and lemon. Clean, dry finish.

 Saisons were traditionally brewed by the drinker over the winter and then opened and drank through the spring and summer. When you drink a a good saison you should be able to smell fruit and yeast on the nose and have that reflected in the taste backed up with spice, tart, and some mild to medium bitterness. They are usually dry. Saisons are versatile for pairing with foods. They go well with spicy foods, and do great with BBQ, pair with bold flavorful food that matches the complexity of a Saison has more delicate food’s flavor may be overwhelmed by the beer.

Rating (out of five):

Beer of the Week 45: Twilight Summer Ale

Deschutes Brewing Company’s Twilight Summer Ale

From the bottle:

Down goes another brewing dogma. Select malts and a heady dose of bold Amarillo hops deliver full-in flavor and crafted nuance in a spry summer style. Enjoy chilled as the days linger.

From my notes:

Amber brown color, tan head with medium sized bubbles that last awhile. Smells of pine needles with hints of sweet, floral. Bright, sweet, citrus on the tongue with a nice hop kick in the middle and as it goes down.  Light bodied, very little carbonation, smooth.

Twilight went really well with grilled salmon!

I was expecting something a lot lighter and more mild from a summer beer, but Twilight has a robust flavor profile and more hops than I expected! Surprised in a good way! I don’t think this is going to replace my preferred summer beer, Blue Star, but it’d be nice when you’re sitting around the fire watching the stars come out.

Rating (out of five):

Beer of the Week 39: Union Jack IPA

Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Union Jack India Pale Ale

From their website:

Union Jack abounds with hop aroma and character. In fact this well balanced, west coast IPA is double dry hopped, giving it more and more of the grapefruit, citrus hop aroma and flavor it is known for. Overall it utilizes over four pounds of pacific-northwest hops per barrel.

From my notes:

Coppery colored with large bubbled tan head with medium retention (about 3 or 4 minutes) and nice lacing. Citrus hoppiness on the nose with with pine in the background. Citrus and floral on the tongue, specifically  I’m tasting grapefruit. Medium bodied. The hope flavor is pretty well balanced by some malt which smooths out the hops. Mild to medium bitter finish.

Another IPA! IPAs have a robust flavor profile and need to be paired with food with similarly strong flavors. Think spicy foods, bold cheeses, robust cheeses. Thai food is great here, as would be macaroni and cheese  with some good blue cheeses.

Rating (out of five):

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