Sunday, November 15, 2015

Game Review: Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

First Person Dungeon Crawler RPG; 3DS; Atlus; 2015
Hey, I'm writing the review on time this time, how about that. There isn't much to say this time around, although coming up I'm going to go see Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie, which I can only assume that Nintendo decided to name the film. Serious, "The New Movie" how long is it going to be before that title becomes inaccurate. Anyway, this time I have a video game review about the latest entry in a series you guys should know that I'm VERY much into. Let's dig into Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight.

Hashire Kousoku no... Wait, I have to sing that everytime there are cherry blossoms.
The Duchy of Caledonia has a ritual that must be preformed every 100 years. This ritual involves one of their Princesses, "The Lady of the Mark," venturing towards the neighboring Duchy of High Lagaard, and preforming a sacred act within the halls of Ginnungagap, accompanied by a handful of knights. This time around The Lady of the Mark is one Princess Arianna, who is accompanied by two youths from the Midgard Library. However, this take an unexpected turn when one of the young men from the library, bestowed the title of the Fafnir Knight, begins to transform into a beast like creature. Now Arianna, the Fafnir Knight, and three other companions, The Survivalist Flavio, The War Magus Chloe, and the Protector Bertrand, must descend to the depths of Ginnungagap and ascend to the heights of High Lagaard's mighty Yggdrasil Labyrinth, to uncover the truth of this ritual in a tale that has been Untold.

Like the previous Untold game, The Fafnir Knight contains a Story Mode that involves a collection of pre-determined characters; However, unlike The Millennium Girl, The Fafnir Knight has a stronger character focus. With the First game each of the main characters beside Frederica had very little to do with the actual plot and where more of a "We can't turn away from this" mentality, here each of the characters has a personal stake in the story. The main character, the usual Atlus Silent Protagonist, had some strange transformation, Arianna has a duty to preform, Flavio is there for his friend, and Chloe and Bertrand's involvement becomes kind of spoilerific. Now, while I prefer Millennium Girl's more light-hearted traditional story, I do like how Fafnir Knight made the focus on the characters and is by far the more detailed plot. Overall, it is a very good story that isn't as cliche as the previous title.

Classic mode is still there for older fans.
For those of you who haven't read ANY of my previous Etrian reviews (except for Etrian Mystery Dungeon) here is a quick low down on the game. Etrian Odyssey is a first person dungeon crawler RPG, meaning that you will be exploring a dungeon by going through it tile by tile turning at 90 degree angles and always facing one of the four cardinal directions. The game series's main draw is it's hard as nails battle system, deep character leveling system, and it's "Draw your own Map" mechanic. That last one seems the most bizarre but is one of the most engaging aspects of the series. As you go through the Labyrinth you must use the bottom screen to map out each and every wall, door, treasure chest, and point of interest. This might seem like a pain in the neck or a waste of time, but since accurate map making is essential to navigating these dungeons, it becomes a required activity, and strangely enough it's actually quite enjoyable and there is a real sense of accomplishment when you have a completed floor map, especially since if you actually map out a floor and find the stair case you can warp to that stair case from any completed floor. Battles are your basic turn-based affair, that get in depth when you start exploring the character class system. Each class has it's own abilities and quirks, from the Ronin switching stances changing what attacks they can use, the Protector drawing agro and reducing damage, to the War Magus who can heal at the start and end of turns and inflict bonus effects against ailed opponents. It's a shame you won't be able to see most of this within Story Mode given the fixed cast and that the only way to change classes is to lose half of your level, but that is where Grimoire stones come in. Each character can equip a number of Grimoire Stones and each stone contains one skill. You can either equip a skill form a completely different class giving you benefits and abilities you would normally never have, or equip a stone that has a skill that you already know and increase it's level beyond the normal amount.

While in town the standard stuff of selling materials, buying new equipment, and accepting optional quests and story missions are still there, but now we have a restaurant to run and it involves finding ingredients from gather points within dungeons or as drops from monsters (Which don't take up inventory space) to create new recipes which provide your party with passive bonuses like stat buffs, elemental and ailment resistances, or restore HP at the end of every turn. You'll also have to worry about advertising your restaurant which gives you additional pocket change and with developing the town which can provide you with even more pocket change when advertising. This plus many small improvements to the map making system and for the first time in an Etrian title the ability to have MULTIPLE saves.

That my dear is a FOE. Otherwise known as death.
As much fun as I have with the Etrian Odyssey games, I know they are not for everyone. If you have played any of the Etrian Odyssey games you've play them all basically as the main formula doesn't really change from game to game. The graphics are still the mostly bare bones approach that, while working wonderfully with the music to give a good ascetic feel, hasn't changed much since Etrian Odyssey IV. And of course the game is hard... like insanely hard. True, the later games are more beginner friendly, but instances where you are running away from a dreaded FOE only to run into a random encounter which forces you into combat with said FOE STILL happens. Bosses remain some of the most frustratingly challenging parts given Atlus's talent to make an already hard boss all the more difficult at the last moment with some sort of unfair advantage. Yeah, this is an Atlus hard game, and that's probably going to shy away a lot of people.

Etrian Odyssey is one of my favorite franchises from Atlus, and thus I am a huge mark for this sort of game. Now I've heard some negative things about the game before it's release namely revolving around it's DLC and an unbalanced Classic mode, but as of writing this review I haven't checked out the classic mode and I got most of the DLC for free during it's launch window, so I can't really say anything about that (also most of the DLC is recommended for levels that are in the Post game range). But from my experience with the game Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold is Highly Recommended. Especially for fans of old school RPGs.

Until Next Time.

-CRES, In case you wanted a female version of Untold's protagonist.

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