Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Review
The always reliable Atlus is back with another excellent entry in the dungeon crawling Etrian series. This beautiful little gem is a great addition to the already stellar 3DS library. Offering customisation up from the very first screen this instalment includes the interesting feature of two separate game modes; Story Mode and Classic Mode. Story mode has all the things you would expect from an Atlus JRPG, an intriguing storyline that keeps you playing, interesting characters and great voice acting. Classic mode will be familiar to all Etrian players and lets you take on a randomised version of the dungeon, the Yggdrasil labyrinth, with a guild that you create.
The game includes three difficulty setting which, true to form, are appropriately named; Picnic, Standard and Expert. There are no cruel surprises here, the game is well tuned to match the setting you choose. Despite being from a rather hardcore lineage the game does it’s absolute best not to blind-side new players. The modes and settings are well described and when you dive into Story mode the tutorial is blended very well into the game-play and does a great job of easing you into the game without overwhelming the player or boring them with too much info at once. The well designed UI is also very easy to understand and use.
In Story mode the eponymous Etrian is a land plagued by mysterious earthquakes and the protagonist, a noble ‘Highlander’ has been tasked by the Radha organisation to investigate. Personally, I was a little disappointed that you couldn’t pick your gender but given the very fixed JRPG like nature of Story mode it’s understandable. As the story progresses you are introduced to your party, which has a good spread of useful classes, and personalities! The class system is very easy to understand and adding skill points, which you gain by levelling, doesn’t seem daunting or confusing.
A big part of the game involves creating a map of the level of the labyrinth you are on. This was one of the most delightful features for me, taking me back to old school games like Dungeon Master, drawing scrappy maps on bits of paper. Using the stylus on the bottom screen you draw the map as you proceed and you can add annotations and icons to help you remember interesting places. This map is more than just cosmetic, in side quests you will be expected to point out gathering nodes to interested parties by directly interacting with your map and you will often be given a loose description of where a missing item is. These side quests are nice and varied and I really enjoyed completing them. You will also depend on your map to get you out of the labyrinth when your party runs out of steam.
As you walk through the rather gorgeous 3D landscape of the labyrinth you will have random encounters with various monsters. This will take you to a battle screen where you attack the enemies in turned based combat. Despite being a rather flat first person affair it is a good representation of the battle field and attacking and defeating enemies feels satisfying. The combat also makes sense with classes playing tank, healer and afflicting enemies with status effects. The 3D is used well here, with enemies in the rear appearing further away from your party.
Visually, this game is lovely, stomping through the labyrinth is given depth by the 3D and the player can gaze around with the analogue stick. There are beautiful, well drawn anime cut-scenes in story mode and the UI that the majority of the game works from is clear and nice to look at. The enemies are well designed and give you a good hint of how they will attack, allowing you to use crowd control abilities effectively. Some levels include huge monsters called F.O.E’s which you will have to avoid early on as they massively out level you. These creatures look fittingly threatening and it’s very satisfying to return later and crush them!
This game can quickly become addictive. It’s very satisfying to set out your maps, adding details as you find gathering nodes, hidden F.O.E’s and useful pit-stops. The gathering is useful too as selling these items to the village shop will add further upgrades to your characters and make you more powerful when you decide to delve back into the labyrinth. There are loads of excellent little touches to this game to make life easier for the player and it is really well designed. I would highly recommend this game to any level of gamer even those who haven’t tried a dungeon crawler before!