Etrian Odyssey Nexus is a dungeon-crawler RPG for the Nintendo 3DS, which was initially released in Japan in August of 2018. The game came west just this month, and the western port retains nearly all of its JRPG flair. While Nexus is a dungeon crawler, the combat is all turn-based, the game focuses mostly on static art for the major NPC interactions, and the tutorial section's don't hold your hand to walk you through things at all. So for a casual RPG fan, it's definitely a different setup, but one that will eventually feel familiar enough. JRPG fans will find it pretty typical.
The game does have voice-over for much of the dialogue, however, all the voice work is entirely in Japanese. For most JRPG fans, that's the way they want things, so we can definitely understand the choice. Some of the voice over work doesn't have subtitles, particularly in battles, so for those not fond of hearing disappointed or hurt Japanese voice actors all the time, we'd suggest the "no voice" option on the character creation screen.
Nexus is the sixth game in the mainline Etrian Odyssey series, though you don't need to have played previous games to enjoy it. The story isn't exactly linear, and while many of the hallmarks of the Etrian series pull through to Etrian Odyssey Nexus, there's nothing gamebreaking there.
There are some differences, however. The player controls an unnamed adventurer's guild owner, however, the gameplay comprises of party battles with up to five adventurers, who are all created, named, and controlled by the player. The customization options aren't incredibly deep – players choose from one of four preset character designs based on the chosen class, and can alter the adventurer's hair, eye, and skin color. Players can also choose to give each character a voice out of several male and female options, and name the adventurers how they see fit.
However, the biggest standout function of the game is the dungeon mapping. Unlike most dungeon-crawlers that have a mini-map that is either automatically given to the player or updates as the player moves around, in Etrian Odyssey Nexus, players map the dungeon themselves. The lower screen on the DS will highlight where the player has been in green squares, but its up to the player themselves to add in notes for treasure coffers, resource points, and doorways. It's an adorable little twist to the genre, which is far more enjoyable than it really has any right to be.
Overall, the game's difficulty curve is steep, even on the lower difficulty settings, with the first dungeon (often called a labyrinth) being a major taste of how difficult things will get later on in the game. Granted, that curve is much higher for the Expert and Heroic levels, but even Basic has a pretty massive jump in the first labyrinth. And there really isn't much content to grind prior to taking on the first dungeon boss, so Nexus is a bit of a "do or die" kind of game. JRPG fans shouldn't have much trouble with it. For those less used to JRPG mechanics, the Picnic difficulty is unfortunately the best way to go. Sure, it's easymode, but sometimes you really do need to be realistic about your gaming abilities.
Etrian Odyssey Nexus is fun and enjoyable, but there's little about it other than the dungeon mapping that really stands out as unique or different. Which is why we've given it a 7.5. There's nothing bad we can say about the game, but there's really only so much good as well.