Etrian Odyssey Untold - The Millennium Girl ReviewJustin Ling
In 2007 a game known as Etrian Odyssey attempted to recreate the old school experience of traversing dungeons while fending off powerful monsters and having to rely on a hand-drawn map, making use of the Nintendo DS's touch screen to convey the experience. It was a big hit and had resulted in three sequels. Now, in 2013, a remake of this game has surfaced in the form of Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, and it is definitely something that veterans and newcomers should pick up and enjoy.
As remakes go, Etrian Odyssey Untold has plenty of new features to enjoy. There are two modes to this game: Story and Classic. Story mode tells the tale of the Highlander, a warrior that comes to Etria and ends up finding a girl with no memories in one of the ruins; along with three other companions, the group traverse the Labyrinth not only to solve its mysteries but also to help the girl, known as Frederica, regain her memories. As RPG stories go, it's rather standard and fans who have played through the original game can probably guess how the story will go; however, the characters themselves are fairly solid if a little archetypical and watching them interact with each other can be quite enjoyable.
The gameplay has undergone some tweaking as well. Those who played the original game will find that the dungeons are not quite how they remembered; layouts have changed and new monsters prowl the area. The unit skills have also been redrawn into a skill tree very much like the one used in Etrian Odyssey IV to make it easier for newcomers to see what skills are required to unlock more advanced options. There is also a Mansion feature that also helps give characters certain status boosts, such as recovering HP or TP at the end of every turn or increasing maximum HP or TP; players can also take requests from their guildmaster in exchange for more experience points, a feature that is sure to come in handy for those just starting the game. Finally, the game comes in three difficulty levels: Picnic, Easy, and Expert. Picnic and Easy help new players ease into the game while Expert is for those who have played the previous games and wish to tackle Etrian Odyssey Untold in all the difficulty of the original.
Every single enemy has been re-rendered into 3D sprites; while it does somewhat take away from the original old school feel of the previous games, the 3D sprites make the battles seem more lively, especially when coupled with the remastered soundtrack. Battles also take on a new strategic edge with the introduction of Grimoire Stones, items that allow characters to use skills they normally cannot learn, including enemy skills. Add in the Grimoire Synthesis system which allows players to personalize their Grimoire Stones, and you have many different new possibilities of skill sets to bring into the Labyrinth.
The game does have a few things that some players might not like, however. The skill trees are much more simplified and the Grimoire Stones may also come across as a poor substitute for the subclass system used in the third and fourth games. Synthesizing Grimoire Stones can also be a bit of a hassle since Grimoire Stones equipped to characters cannot be used in synthesis. The game also reuses some old character art from the original game, making it somewhat jarring when comparing the old artwork with the current style used in the series.
However, even with the little faults, this game is one that fans of the series will definitely want to check out. It is by no means a cheap update; there is enough new content in this game that makes a purchase worthwhile, and new fans will find that it can be a good way to ease into the series. It does a fantastic job keeping the feel of the original game and updating it enough to retain the better parts of the newer games. Etrian Odyssey Untold is both a terrific icebreaker for the newcomers and a great nostalgia trip for the veterans, and a great reminder of how far the series has come since 2007.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.