And at number eight in my personal picks for 2008 we find some old-school dungeon-crawling, courtesy of Atlus. I’m pretty sure this game got more play on my DS than every other handheld game combined…8. Etrian Odyssey 2 (DS)
It’s all about the grind. Story-driven JRPGs can get bogged down in demanding you fight interminable random battles to reach the required XP levels to progress, when all you really want to do is find out what happens next. Etrian Odyssey avoids this by making the grind the whole point of the experience.
Like Neverwinter Nights: Storm of Zehir, it’s a glorious return to the roots of the RPG – pen & paper D&D where all that mattered was looting some dungeons for fame and fortune. The touch-screen map-making also delivers a nostalgia for a time when games didn’t auto-map for you. There’s something genuinely satisfying about charting your own progress in such a tactile way.
It might seem like a retro throwback – and it essentially is – but in its character class and skill systems there’s more than enough variety and choice to keep you exploring just one more dungeon level each time.