Atlus knows what they're doing when it comes to RPG's, the most notable line of them being the Shin Megami Tensei series. With one coming this spring, a game having an NA release only now, I'm kinda excited. My favorite of the SMT series so far is strange journey is Strange Journey, with Devil Survivor 2 being a close second. But as I look at the Atlus homepage, Etrian Odyssey IV catches my eye. I look around for a bit more info and find out that Strange Journey's dungeon-crawling is Etrian Odyssey's own but with SMT demons. Now I'm interested in this. But if I had to choose between the progenitor to a game I really like or the lost gem of SMT, which would I be better satisfied with?
Well, here's the thing - this is sort of a chicken-and-egg deal.
EO's DS engine was really just assimilated for what was otherwise a return to SMT's more classic style in Strange Journey.
Etrian Odyssey is very light on story and demands you not only manage a guild of adventurers but be a cartographer as well. Simply put - there is no auto-mapping in EO, at all. You have to manually draw and notate each floor if you really want to make heads or tails of any dungeon. MegaTen came long just after the days auto-mapping became a thing, so it doesn't subscribe to the concept so much and the EO engine it borrowed was altered to auto-map.
The level of random encounters and difficulty is about the same. Its just EO prides itself on being a throwback more than SMT does, but at least you'll save money not having to invest in graph paper, pencils and erasers to enjoy yourself.
Soul Hackers most closely resembles SMT Nocturne and Stragen Journey in its style of play, so you'll likely enjoy SH, but its probably going to feel a touch more rigid because its a port of a Saturn game from the late 90s.
The beauty is you don't really have to choose, though. Get both if they strike your fancy.