I’ll admit that I have not played an Etrian Odyssey game prior to this review – I know, shame on me, – but it’s not without a lack of want. The closest thing to Etrian Odyssey I have played is Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth which is essentially the same as EO but with Personas, etc.,. Now, when the chance to review this title came up I jumped at the chance; finally, I can play an Etrian Odyssey game, but how does it compare with my expectations?
Etrian Odyssey is a 3D dungeon crawler role-playing game developed by Atlus for the Nintendo DS; it has since spawned numerous sequels and now remakes, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl a semi-remake of the first EO game and, of course, Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight. Having not played the original Etrian Odyssey 2, I cannot vouch for how much has been improved or changed, but at the beginning of the game, you’re given the option of choosing between the new story mode and a classic mode so one would assume classic mode is identical to the original.
The main difference with Untold: The Fafnir Knight is the new story mode and, to be honest, it is a little cliché. Princess of Caledonia, Arianna, heads to the city of High Lagaard where she seeks aid on her quest to perform a ritual to protect the land from a great evil. She is joined by you, the protagonist, and your childhood buddy Flavio. When you reach Ginnungagap, the ruin Arianna was heading to, you encounter Bertrand and Chloe, an odd pair, but introductions are cut short when you suddenly begin to awake to your transformation powers. You’re shocked as much as your new companions who somehow still agree to join you. Fairly basic stuff, it’s not overly amazing but it does the job; your party is pretty generic as is much of the dialogue bar two characters. Bertrand and Chloe, your two newest additions, are easily the life and soul of the party, quite literally. Bertrand is very blunt and doesn’t mix words which can make for some very entertaining lines and when coupled with Chloe, an odd and eccentric character, things can get interesting rather quick.
Untold: The Fafnir Knight follows the same tried and true formula that Etrian Odyssey appears to have perfected – the first-person dungeon crawling with turn-based combat. Where EO differs to others in this genre is the map-making feature, normally maps are auto-recorded as you progress, whereas EO you have to draw in the map yourself marking down any points of interest. A fantastic feature that really makes EO unique, while sounding like a chore; it actually becomes a lot of fun and adds a level of puzzle-solving when you progress further. One such element is the FOE’s, that are really powerful enemies that appear on screen; avoiding them is a must. Marking FOE’s down on the map and figuring out a route that avoids them completely makes traversing a dungeon a lot harder.
As with any game of this nature you’ll be given various story-related missions, alongside many side missions to keep you treading over the same old ground. Boring for some, but for others it keeps the game alive. You can sell items dropped by monsters that can then we used to create new weapons, armour and items. Enemies also drop food ingredients which can be taken to the town restaurant and used in the new cooking system. The restaurant chef will provide you with recipes that describe a dish, you then choose which foods to use to create the dish. If you manage to pick the correct ingredients then you can unlock a new dish that can be cooked at any time. By consuming dishes before you set off to explore a dungeon you’ll gain various buffs that can add you in battle such as healing and increased item drop rates.
Visually you probably know what to expect if you have played any of the previous iterations so it’s not going to break any new ground on that front. It’s a good looking game and the dungeons are well designed and not too samey. Obviously now that we’re on 3DS, enemies and dungeon have been revamped to appear in 3D, a feature I’m not too fussed about but it doesn’t look great nonetheless.
I can honestly say that I had a blast with Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight, I look forward to future titles and I’m definitely going to hunt down the older ones. I’ve been a huge fan of dungeon crawling RPGs for some time now and EO easily pleases and then some. The mapping feature is brilliant and obviously a big draw for the series. The new cooking feature has depth and becomes rather addictive in itself as is opens up in the later game. If you’re a newcomer to EO like me don’t feel afraid to jump in, each game is separate from one another and you’ll have a great time with it.