Bringing Back Old School Charm with a New School Look
Cartographers rejoice! This is a game series made for you and those of your ilk. Remember the days when you would play a RPG and it didn’t have an automapping feature? Or better yet, when it didn’t have the compass and map constantly displayed in at least one of the corners of your screen? You would have to get the square graph paper and a pencil to map where you had been so you would not become lost. Well Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight brings back some of that old school charm with a new school look.
Atlus has found a productive formula recently of taking games that were originally made for the DS and upgrading them to today’s standards. The Etrian Odyssey series is one of those brands receiving the upgrade treatment for the 3DS.
EO2U: The Fafnir Knight is the upgrade to Etrain Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard. The Etrian Odyssey series is comprised of role playing games that have a focus on exploration. During EO2U you will move throughout the different dungeons in a first person view. Each step you take will count as a turn. As you explore you have the chance of running into random encounters. Sometimes these are fights with monsters. Other times these can be harvestable resources. Another example of a random encounter is you could run into a monster that is stuck in a bush. You can choose to help the creature or kill it. Sometimes you’ll be rewarded for helping the creature with gifts, and sometimes it will reward you by trying to kill you. In addition to the random encounters you will also see FOEs (Field on Enemies) on the map. These are significantly harder than the enemies you’ll randomly encounter. They will also match your movement turn for turn. You can use your terrain to your advantage and avoid them most of the time. You can also choose to go toe to toe with the FOEs but it is not advisable, especially early on when they will surely spell your doom. Using pillars to block their line of site or getting them to fall into pits is the safer bet.
New to this iteration of EO2 is story mode. In it you’ll begin your adventures as a young knight with your best friend in tow. The two of you have set off to create a name for yourself and your guild. Along the way will you’ll meet a young princess that needs your assistance to complete a ritual. Needless to say the story isn’t going to be what grips you in this game. It’s passable but it isn’t breaking any new ground.
You’ll control a party of up to 5 members as you make your way through the dungeons. If you choose to adventure in story mode you’ll have 5 premade characters that will fulfill certain roles for you. If you choose the classic mode you’ll be able to create the 5 characters as whichever class you choose. As you adventure through the game your characters will gain experience and level up. You will then be awarded points that you can spend in the characters skill trees improving their abilities. Combat is turn based and your party will be made up of a front line and back line. Pretty standard RPG stuff.
The real gem that sets EO2U out from the RPG crowd is its focus on creating your own maps. As you progress through the Yggdrasil Labyrinth you’ll have to chart where you have been on your second screen. You’ll have different icons to indicate different land marks. Stairwells that lead either up or down. Pickaxes or flowers to represent resource nodes, these nodes will change color as the resource reappears. You have access to arrows that you can use to show connection in the maze that are linked by secret passages. You’ll also have to draw the walls. Once you complete a map you will be rewarded with the golden stairs. These allow you to skip across a map without having to walk through the entire level. This function will come in handy since the town acts as the quest hub and you’ll be back tracking through the maps as you complete quests and tasks from the shops in town.
Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold is a solid addition to a growing library of RPGs for the 3DS. Where the game may be lacking in story it makes up for in solid gameplay. Turn based exploration and combat with FOEs sprinkled in to keep things interesting, coupled with the cartography aspect makes for an enjoyable experience.
- Gameplay: 8 The game is an interesting mix of styles. The dungeon crawler with random encounters, visible boss like encounters aka FOEs, and the cartography mode make this an distinct series.
- Visuals and Sound: 8 Nice character art mixed with popping 3d environments make this game visually appealing on the 3ds.
- Polish: 8 With a new paint job, a story mode, and voice over for the main characters ATLUS put some effort in this remake of Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard.
- Longevity: 7 With a unique dungeon for each level and various resources scattered throughout you’ll have plenty of reason to keep playing but back tracking can grow old, quick.
- Value: 7 $49.99 for a redo is a bit steep.