It’s time for a little dungeon crawling.
New to the Nintendo 3Ds this week is Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, a game that is both a classic and brand new, all at the same time. Billed as a remake of Etrian Odyssey, originally released for Nintendo Ds, The Millennium Girl brings a ton of new features to the table, most notable one being the addition of a story mode. Most fans adore the Etrian Odyssey games for their endless dungeon crawling, but there’s definitely something to be said for adding motivation in the form of a compelling story line.
You play as a Highlander who has been summoned to Etria. You are tasked with exploring the cause of the frequent earthquakes that have been mysteriously shaking the local landscape. In the course of your wanderings, you are met with a well rounded band of travelers who will become your companions in arms as you travel through the unknown in the Labyrinth. Frederica – the titular Millennium Girl – appears to have been awakened from some sort of cryogenic sleep chamber. Where – and when – she comes from is unclear, and her amnesia prevents Frederica from sharing her tale in anything more than bits and pieces.
In addition to Frederica, you meet a small group of researchers sent from the Midgard Library. Simon is the group’s medic, and he’s a scholarly sort who is always seeking answers. Raquna is a skilled defender with a mysterious past. Arthur is the spirited and impulsive alchemist. These characters, when combined with Frederica’s skill as a gunner, make for a well rounded party that can take on the unknown dungeons with confidence. Of course, you’ll want to do some grinding as well, both to level up your group and to acquire better equipment. One nice element of Etrian Odyssey Untold is the addition of Grimoire Stones, which absorb abilities from friends and enemies, giving you the chance to upgrade your characters in an entirely new way, depending upon how you choose to combine and equip them.
While the story line does well in adding motivation and purpose to your exploring, this game is still all about the dungeon crawling. When you enter a new area, it is new to you in every sense of the word. The map is an empty canvas, and drawing it to perfection is all a part of your journey. The map portion covers the bottom screen of the 3Ds. As you work your way through the Labyrinth, you can use your stylus to mark paths, make note of shortcuts, label chopping areas or special springs, and so forth. This is invaluable in a game that makes traveling back and forth a must, and knowing just where to go to find a healing spring definitely cuts down on the amount of trips back to town that are needed. As a nice bonus, when you have mapped a majority of an area, you are then allowed to floor jump – move to the beginning of the level with a single touch. While grinding is always good, the option to quickly move through an area without having to go through seven different fights is a definite plus – and one that makes a game typically not suited for quick play eminently easier to pick up and play on the go.
It isn’t just the layout that is unknown in Labyrinth areas. You’ll encounter a wide variety of enemies in each of the areas you uncover. It’s nice to see a game that doesn’t fall back on just a few enemy opponents, and it definitely adds to the challenge of the game. In addition to your standard enemies, you’ll encounter FOE’s. These are kind of like mini bosses, difficult to defeat but rewarding if you manage. As you uncover portions of your map, you will be able to see the FOE’s (and how good your odds are at your current level) before you encounter them, making avoiding a tough fight when you’re down and out possible but not necessarily easy. Avoiding the FOE’s typically boils down to studying their movements in relation to your own in order to sneak past. Be careful though; if you make a wrong move, some of these guys are prone to chasing.
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl offers just about everything a dungeon crawler junkie could want. For old school purists, the Classic Mode gives you Etrian Odyssey just how you remember it. For those who want a little more motivation, Story Mode adds a really well done story element to it that will keep you coming back for more.
Three different difficulty levels make this an accessible game for every age and skill level, and the hours upon hours of play time available means this is a game where you’ll surely get a lot of bang for your buck.