The original Etrian Odyssey debuted six years ago for the Nintendo DS. It was a first-person dungeon crawler with turn-based random battles, similar to the earlier Shin Megami Tensei games and Wizardry, but with an emphasized focus on cartography (map-making). The game was well-received and spawned three sequels, despite being a niche title. The newest game in the series, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, is a semi-remake of the original game with a new scenario and other additions.
Unlike the other Etrian Odyssey games, Untold features a story mode with predetermined characters, full voice acting and animated cutscenes that gives the game’s scenario some structure and depth. You play as a Highlander (a tribe of warriors who value justice above all else), who's visiting Etria in order to investigate abnormal tremors that have been plaguing the town. During an exploration in the nearby ruins, the Highlander discovers and befriends a mysterious girl with amnesia named Frederica. Soon after, they join forces with a trio of adventurers from the Midgard Library who were exploring the ruins. After establishing themselves as a guild, they set out to the Yggdrasil Labyrinth, a mysterious dungeon composed of many strata and dangerous monsters, to learn more about the secret of the ruins, the freak earthquakes and the memories locked deep inside Frederica’s mind.
Untold also contains a classic mode, where it can be played like past Etrian Odyssey titles: you take on a variety of quests with a guild that is created entirely by yourself. Rather than use predetermined characters, every person in your guild is customized by name, gender and class. Whether you want a well-balanced team of fighters, an army of manly men who can cast spells or a pack of adorable girls armed with guns and swords, it’s all up to you. The game itself isn’t the only thing that is “classic”—in the option menu, there is a feature to toggle the BGM from the re-mastered soundtrack to the FM original soundtrack (both composed by the talented Yuzo Koshiro).
Untold continues the tradition of the Etrian Odyssey games by making cartography a main feature. Unlike other dungeon crawlers like Soul Hackers, Etrian Odyssey doesn’t map your progress automatically. Using the 3DS’ touch screen, players are expected to draw a map as they explore the labyrinth, whether accurately or not, in order to complete certain quests and act as an overall aid to the adventurer. Maps are very useful in finding spawn points for resources, marking down points of interest, monitoring the routes of FOEs (large powerful monsters that can easily destroy your guild if you’re not careful), and if the map is accurate, you can automatically warp to specific points to the map in order to make future adventures in the labyrinth easier. However, if any of that sounds too stressful to you, Untold now has the option to automatically map your progress. While this is a break from tradition that has already drawn the ire from some traditional EO players that have tried the demo, I’ve mentioned earlier that the feature is optional and can be turned off in the options menu.
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is a fun game, but it’s a game that is definitely not for everyone, given its genre. However, the game is excellent for those that do enjoy first-person dungeon crawlers and RPGs in general. The game is fairly difficult (although that can be adjusted in the options) and the mapping feature can get very tedious, but it does add the feeling of being an explorer when mapping out each strata in the labyrinth. The music is superb, and while the character illustrations are sparse, they are nice to look at. If you’re unsure about picking up the game, there’s a free demo out now on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. If anything, I suggest you try it out to experience a modern take of the dungeon crawler.
Hint: Be sure to sell all resources and unneeded items found after each visit from the labyrinth! You can only hold up to 60 items so be careful not to have a full stock when looking for treasure.
by Ray N.