Released in 2007 on the DS, Etrian Odyssey was a three-dimensional dungeon crawler inspired by the old classics that required the player to map out their progress. Taking advantage of the DS’ touch screen, players would map their progress with the tools provided, bringing that classic experience to the portable gaming environment. I never did get to personally experience any of the Etrian Odyssey titles before. Fortunately, they’re already remaking the original 2007 release. Is this a good time to enter the series, and is the remake truly warranted?
Publisher: NIS America (EU), Atlus
Genre: Role-Playing Game//Dungeon-Crawler, Fantasy
Platform: 3DS (Retail & eShop)
Release Date: May 2nd, 2014 (EU); October 1st, 2014 (NA); June 27th, 2014 (JP)
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl provides the standard fare of better graphics and audio that remakes generally provide, but it also offers more. While the original release had a story, found in its setting and lore, The Millennium Girl offers a cast of characters with their own motives and personality, as well as a mysterious new dungeon. Players assume the role of a Highlander who has been requested to help document the forest labyrinth, and uncover the mystery surrounding ancient, high-tech ruins near the town of Etrian (double check this). During this adventure, the player meets an amnesiac girl found in cryostasis, and a band of adventurers from a library (get the name) who also seek to discover what secret these ruins hold.
With the exception of the player character, each member of the party has their own personality and dialogue. Unfortunately, this significant addition to the title is not particularly impressive, with clichéd plots and a one-dimensional cast of anime character archetypes. However, while they may not be entirely fleshed out, they’re likeable, and the dialogue is well written and can bring some further joy to the adventure. The additional dungeon is a nice change of setting from time to time, exchanging the forest backdrop of the labyrinth with that of metal corridors being swallowed and overwhelmed by the environment.
Cutscenes are reminiscent of visual novels. It’s very text heavy, displaying only a background and the currently talking character’s portrait above the text box. However, there are certain points in which the v
As players explore these two dungeons, as with any role-playing game, they will eventually be faced with random encounters that result in combat in another screen. The combat is turn-based, with players determining the entire party’s actions before they may be executed. A player’s actions are determined by their class; although, all characters are able to use items from the capacity-limited inventory and physically strike their foes. In The Millennium Girl, each character has already been assigned a class. There’s some underlying strategy involved, particularly when players battle against FOEs–monsters that wander in the field with the player that are also more difficult than anything faced on that floor.
Players have an arsenal of buffs and debuffs, magical and physical skills, and healing abilities. Typically, buffs and debuffs are limited by the number of turns they will be active. While these abilities are all standard, they’re balanced well enough that there will be some disparities between more tactical players and less prepared players. Content can be made easier through repeating encounters to obtain experience points that will ultimately level a character up; however, this form of grinding is not often required. The title isn’t very tricky, which provides a more accessible than the series’ reputation would have players expect.
The character progression system involves the use of skill trees. When a character levels up, the player is able to allot a skill point in one of many trees relevant to their class. The parent trees can be improved to increase the character’s attributes–values that determine the effectiveness of their actions–and obtain new abilities. The children in the trees are abilities which may also be expanded upon for increased effectiveness.
Excluding the second dungeon, the narrative involving that dungeon, and the unique characters; The Millennium Girl offers a classic mode that enables players to experience the original title, but with better graphics and audio. Unfortunately, players are provided with only one save slot, resulting in only either the classic or new experience being the only viable option for their entire campaign.
Taking advantage of the touchscreen, players are expected to map their progress through the dungeons. This feature, introduced by the very first Etrian Odyssey title, brings the classic experience of age old dungeon crawlers to players on the go. It offers a range of icons and mapping tools to provide the player with what they need, whether it’s noting down a chest or path to a hidden area. Upon completely exploring a floor of a dungeon, players will be able to quick travel to the next set of steps by using their map.
As a remake of a DS game, the title does a wonderful job of looking nice. There’s a severe lack of anti-aliasing, but that’s to be expected because of the hardware. Jaggies aside, the visuals are vibrant and interesting enough to keep the expansive forest from becoming dull. Character artwork is nice and stylish, albeit drawing strongly from Japanese animation. The animated sequences look a little more bland and generic by comparison. The Millennium Girl also brings voice acting to the series, and this is handled well. The cast are full of life and the voice cast is appropriate. Overall, the localization appears strong and the voice actors deliver on this front as well.
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl brings a very strong dungeon-crawling experience to the 3DS, offering an accessible alternative to Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. Players that are quick to grasp the mechanics will be rewarded in return, which puts the title ahead of most recent competition in the genre.