The “Etrian Odyssey” series offers a modern take on the hardcore dungeon crawlers that used to be prevalent on the PC. In all four of the main entries, you have to assemble your own party of five characters to be able to tackle all of the dangers found in the huge multiple floor dungeons. While each game has made small attempts to be more accessible, “Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl” offers a radical change to the formula in the form of a brand new story mode.
“Etrian Odyssey Untold” is actually two games in one. Classic mode is a straightforward remake of the original “Etrian Odyssey” that offers graphics, menus and other conveniences up to par with “Etrian Odyssey IV.” The new story mode offers those same upgrades, but instead of creating your own team, story mode features five preset characters and also new locations to explore beyond the original labyrinth.
In the story mode of the game, your character the Highlander who has been tasked with investigating the labyrinth, discovers a girl named Frederica Irving who has been asleep for 1,000 years. Once you find Frederica, you’ll quickly meet up with a group of three other adventurers and together you’ll continue to explore the game’s central dungeon while also helping Frederica recover from her amnesia.
The plot is thus really simple on the surface — which isn’t helped by the fact that none of your team members have much character depth. Even though it’s simple, the story setup largely works because the dialogue between your party members is well written. The presence of these actual characters really shines when they create discussions in place of the series’ usually quiet narration.
I did ultimately enjoy the presence of the new characters, but since they are all predefined in their class, you lose a great deal of freedom as a result. To counter the lack of customization, a new item called “grimoire stones” were added. Unfortunately, grimoire stones are randomly given to you, so you can’t really rely on them. While you are stuck with your party’s classes, each character’s skill tree still offers plenty of tough decisions to consider.
The best thing about the introduction of story mode is that it offers a different rule set and atmosphere in addition to the already solid classic mode. Since both modes are very fun and you might want to swap between the two.
Regardless of whichever mode you play, all of the other hallmarks of “Etrian Odyssey” are accounted for in “Untold.” The soundtrack maintains an upbeat and exciting tone while both the 2D anime art and the 3D graphics look bright and inviting.
The giant FOE enemies (Formido Oppugnatura Exsequens) that roam the dungeons are again a central feature of the game. Every time you encounter a new FOE you first need to figure out their movement patterns to avoid getting decimated. Returning later to defeat an FOE by using creative strategies still feels like a triumph.
One feature that is bizarrely turned off by default is the need to draw your own maps on the bottom screen. Considering that drawing your own maps helps you build a greater connection with the dungeon, you’ll probably want to turn auto-mapping off immediately.
“Etrian Odyssey Untold” offers a ton of really well-crafted hardcore dungeon crawling in a modern package. The new story mode, coupled with the accessibility features from “Etrian Odyssey IV,” creates a new experience of equal value to the classic formula. With both styles of play included, role-playing game (RPG) fans shouldn’t hesitate to add “Etrian Odyssey Untold” to their collection.
RECOMMENDED: “Etrian Odyssey Untold” is a welcoming for both newcomers and hardcore RPG fans.