Sep 30, 2013

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Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Review

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Review

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To say that Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is a remake of the first entry in the Etrian Odyssey series would be unfair. When we hear of a game being remade, our thoughts usually turn to a fresh coat of paint (updated graphics) or tweaked gameplay. This isn’t to say that Etrian Odyssey Untold doesn’t spruce things up with the original 2007 DS release. It does that and more by adding a new Story mode. But is that enough for both fans of the series and newcomers to check it out?

For those who decide to try out the Story mode in Etrian Odyssey Untold, you follow a motley crew of adventurers as they delve into the labyrinth that fans of the original will recognize, as well as a new area exclusive to this title. The story has elements that do seem to be staples in any RPG, such as the amnesic character in search of lost memories and enemies terrorizing the land. It’s a good story, as long as you’re not wanting the next grand tale that will raise the bar.

Etrian Odyssey Untold adds something new to the series: a Story mode that offers the usual features you’d expect to find in most traditional RPGs. In this mode, you take control of five characters, each with their own personality and preset job class. You learn more about the characters as you progress through the story. Though I really like each character, the Canadian Raquna, who is great at shielding the rest of the party, and the hyper Arthur, who doles out his best damage in the form of elemental attacks, appealed the most to me.

Though you play as five characters with preset classes in the Story mode, there are some ways to customize your party to fit your needs. Each time you level up, you gain a skill point that can boost yours skills. Unlocking new skills requires you to level up a certain skill, and in some cases, spending a skill point to activate the new skill. Skills can either be ones you select in battle or passive skills that increase your stats. Another way to customize your characters is with the Grimories. Depending on which one you equip, a character that might just use a gun can also use a different weapon and the skills on the Grimoire that go with it. These stones can be combined in your guild hall in town to produce a Grimoire that offers the set of skills you might need in battle. Synthesizing Grimoire stones is not the main way to gain new stones. You will need to survive a turn during a battle in which the character equipped with a Grimoire Stone is signaled to have a Grimoire Chance. This chance to produce a new stone is random, and you won’t know what sort you have or the skills it carries until after the battle and you have it assessed at your guild.

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If you’ve played the previous entries in the series (or really, any dungeon crawler), you will have an understanding of how the battle system and dungeon traversing works. When loading up a new game for the first time, you are given the choice of which mode to play as well as one of three difficulties. For those wanting to focus more on the story in the Story mode or those who prefer an easier setting, the Picnic mode is the best route. Though it is the easiest of the three (the other two being Standard and Expert), Picnic mode still presents a fair bit of challenge to players. However, you get to continue from your death in the game and certain items are given unlimited uses.

As you progress through the labyrinth, it is up to you to make sure you draw it on the bottom touch screen and mark any important areas. Scattered across each floor are spots where you can gather materials, restore HP and TP, and run into FOEs (known as Formido Oppugnatura Exsequens). Other than for some quests you can accept, completing the maps for each dungeon floor is important for figuring out how to get from one end to another without getting lost or running into a FOE that you’re not able to beat just yet. Encountering the FOEs can spell certain doom (or at least a really good thrashing). As long as you can memorize the path of each FOE type, it can be easy to avoid a good majority of them until you are leveled up.

Battles outside of the FOEs you encounter are random. There is a small gauge in the lower right corner that changes color to signal how soon an attack will occur. When it changes to red, you need to be sure that your party is prepared for the attack. Fighting enemies is as simple as choosing what action to take and which enemy to hit. It is through trying out different skills that you learn what an enemy is weak against. Once a battle is complete, you gain experience that is divided among your party and have a chance to pick up any items dropped. There are three types of item drops: common, rare, and the conditional one that requires you to attack an enemy in a certain manner before you can get it. There are also rare breeds of the regular enemies you will find in the dungeons. These stand out by how they glow. Unlike the usual enemies, these rare breeds will power up during each turn and they can drop rare items.

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One of the main features in Etrian Odyssey Untold (and really the whole series) is the cartography, or map-making. As mentioned above, drawing your map as you progress through the different levels is vital to making it out alive. With a tap and slide of your stylus, you can easily mark key spots and the ability to jump from floor to floor is unlocked once you find the exit to the floor you’re on. This handy feature will cut down on the time you spend on the floors you’ve already been on and does seem to be aimed for those who like to get back into the thick of it when they leave the dungeon long enough to heal or sell the items they’ve picked up.

The graphics in Etrian Odyssey Untold are really a step up from the original. Though fans who played EOIV will find them to be similar to the title that released earlier this year. Is this a bad thing? I don’t feel like it is, but those who were expecting ATLUS to present Etrian Odyssey Untold on a better engine than the fourth entry might feel like it’s just more of the same old. When compared to the original Etrian Odyssey, this title shows such improvement with the background, character designs, and enemies.

Given that a majority of your time is spent within the labyrinth, players will hope that the soundtrack delivers enough to warrant not turning it down in favor of other background noise. I believe the upgrade in the soundtrack, as well as the addition of a really good voice cast does a superb job and rarely had I found myself turning the volume down.

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Your time spent with Etrian Odyssey Untold can vary on many factors, such as which mode you play through as well as if you spend your time fully drawing the maps out and messing with the Grimoire stones. On average, you can set aside close to 40 hours for the Story mode, while going through the Classic one will likely take less. Something worth mentioning is that because Etrian Odyssey Untold has just one save slot, you will have to overwrite all the progress made in either Classic or Story mode. Some might not mind this much, but others, such as myself, will hate to give up all the hours and hard work just to start a new game. If you played the Story mode before going to the Classic mode, you will unlock both the Highlander and Gunner classes from the beginning.

Whether this is your first foray into the series or you’re an Etrian Odyssey veteran, it is worth at least checking the demo out. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl continues to bring the features you love in the series as well as adding a Story mode and easier difficulty modes that is sure to entice newcomers to the series and genre. Though it doesn’t seem to take a huge step forward in the series, Etrian Odyssey Untold does freshen up the first entry in the series and makes it seem somewhat new. It might not be a title for every gamer or for the EO fan hoping for the next big improvement in the series. However, I do think that fans of the genre will want to give this game a shot.

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl
Platform: 3DS
Genre: RPG, Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Developer: ATLUS
Publisher: ATLUS
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
MSRP: $39.99


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