Sunday, April 13, 2014

Game Review: Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl

Dungeon Crawler RPG; 3DS; Atlus; 2013
Not much has happen since last time I posted a review on these blogs... EXCEPT FOR THE AWESOMENESS THAT WAS THE SMASH BROS DIRECT! I'm sure you guys know by now that I'm a huge Nintendo Fan and I'm also a huge Mega Man fan, so with all that awesomeness that was announced about Smash Bros. Including Mega Man's absolutely awesome final smash (they are missing Zero and ZX though, I guess only Blue Mega Men are allowed), man it was a sight to behold. Anyway, I'm here to review a game, not gush about how awesome Smash Bros is. Anyway, here is my review of Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. A remake of the first Etrian Odyssey game, and my first foray into the series.

Story? In a old school First Person Dungeon Crawler? What a silly idea.
The town of Etria is a haven for adventurers and explorers, seeking fame and fortune in the depths of the natural labyrinth that lie just outside the town's borders. While many adventurers arrive in Etria to form guilds to explore the labyrinth, one adventurer came for a different reason. He is a Highlander, and was summoned to Etria to investigate the ruins Gladsheim to find the connection between it and the strange earthquakes Etria has been experiencing for some time. However, when while investigating the ruins, the Highlander finds a young girl sleeping deep within the ruins. Her name is Frederica, but that is all she remembers. Now this Highlander, along with Frederica and others who are also investigating the mysterious phenomenon that plague Etria, must explore Gladsheim and the massive and complex Yggdrasil Labyrinth to find the answers to Frederica's lost memories, and what has been left buried for over a thousand years.

Etrian Odyssey Untold is the first game in the series to make it's story a main focus of the game (as well as have a group of set characters rather than ones you create yourself), and for the most part the story is good. It is every bit as cliche as you imagine, each plot twist is telegraphed well in advance, and there is no major surprises at any point in the story. However, Etrian Odyssey's story is greatly reinforced by the main cast of characters, who are each unique and likeable.From the ever serious minded Simon to the hard drinking Raquna to the energetic Arthur (who is also the man with the fire magic), everyone is likeable even if none of them are too complex. In the end, the story is just as simple adventure story that is told well, which works well with the overall charm of the game.

First Person RPGs, the easiest way to make a fight scene.
Etrian Odyssey is a RPG series that strives to be the old school Dungeon crawling games of past, and Untold is a remake of the first Etrian Odyssey game released back on the DS. The major draw of the series has always been it's tough as nails gameplay and it's unique mechanic to make your own maps. As you make your way through the Labyrinth, you not only have to fight increasingly difficult monsters, but you have to draw in your map as you go as the bottom screen is always displaying your current map and all the tools you have to fill it in. Not only will you have to draw in walls, but also place staircases where they should be, label shortcuts, and locations where you can gather materials. If this sounds like a drag, it really isn't. Sure every now and then you'd have to stop moving through the Labyrinth just to draw where the walls are, but this process is surprisingly enjoyable, especially since the map system is so robust that you can even leave notes on particular squares to remind you what happens at this particular location. But be careful while exploring, there are incredibly powerful monsters known as F.O.E.s roaming around. These guys appear on the dungeon (unlike most enemies who are random encounters) and some will even hunt you down, if you run across one of them you are in for a fight for your life. Usually, when you first run into one of these guys you want to stay away from them until you level up enough and then fight them fully prepared. Once you are done exploring, it's back to town to report or accept quests, sell your materials for money and greater shop variety, distribute Skill points and then rest, save, and back into the Labyrinth for some more. What Untold, being a remake of first game, adds is features seen in later games (namely from Etrian Odyssey IV, also for the 3DS) as well as a new mode, Story Mode. In Story mode, you take the role of the Highlander as you lead your small group of adventurers through both the Yggdrasil Labyrinth and the all new Gladsheim ruins. Unlike classic Etrian Odyssey where your group is fully customizable with characters created by the player, in Story mode each character has a set class, look, personality, and you are stuck with these 5 characters. Fortunately, each character's role help form a completely balanced party, unfortunately the only way to change your roles is to reclass after level 30 (which while it gives you bonus Stats and Skill points, will cut your level in half) and at that point your group is well set that you might as well not bother. However, there are customizable options outside of complete career reassessment, which are the all new grimoire stones. Each character can equip one grimoire stone and each stone contains a number of character and monster skills. You get more grimoire stones during battle where you have a chance at getting a new one with skill that either the character, the grimoire stone, or the monster you are fighting possess, as well as items and effects that increase these likelihoods. However, if Story mode doesn't do anything for you, or you just like Etrian Odyssey's character creation and class system, then you have Classic mode which plays just like any other Etrian Odyssey game with a group of customizable characters.

Unfortunately, Etrian Odyssey Untold isn't without it's problems. First and foremost, the one that everyone will experience, is that the game has only one save file. This is a problem because you can't play Story mode AND Classic mode at the same time. If you are playing Story mode and want to see what Classic mode is like, well you are going to have to delete your story mode file, and the same holds true for Classic mode. And these aren't small potatoes, Classic mode is the only way to truly experience all the different classes and how they work together, while Story mode is not only the only way to experience the story, but also Gladsheim and the Highlander and Gunner classes are only available through this mode. I also had issues with the Grimoire Stone system, namely it's rare to get a grimoire stone that is actually worth while, since most stones you acquire will have skill that almost never break level 3 out of 10. You can fuse grimoire stones together but even if both stones you are pulling skills from have the same skill, there is no way to increase that skill's level. For example, if you have Mine 2 on one stone and Mine 3 on another, there isn't a way to get Mine 4 or above. The only way is to wait until you get a grimoire stone by chance that has a higher Mine skill. It's odd that with how robust the map and class system was in this game, that the grimoire stone system seems so rudimentary.

Did I have fun with Etrian Odyssey Untold, YES! The game is an amazing little piece of addiction. Exploring massive dungeons is addicting. Drawing maps is addicting. Killing stronger and stronger enemies is addicting. Acquiring better and better weapons and armor is addicting. Watching your characters grow by leveling up skills that just form unstoppable combos is addicting. Pretty much everything about this game is addicting. If you are a fan of RPGs, especially dungeon crawlers, then definitely check out Etrian Odyssey Untold, and if you are new to the series this is almost the perfect place to start. Highly Recommended.

Until Next Time.

-Crescent, "Everybody ought to have a maid. Everybody ought to have a working girl."

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