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Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Review


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On 09/30/2013 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

Get hooked on this cult fave where it all began.
RECOMMENDATION:

For you, you, you, and yes, you.

It seems like the Etrian Odyssey series has steadily won over more and more fans since its first entry in 2007. Along the way, Atlus has added in niceties to take the edge off of a series that demands a lot of its players, and revisiting the original entry with these tweaks turns out to be a great move. Even though it seems a bit odd to remake a game that’s only six years old, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl is the perfect way to please existing fans and those just joining the dungeon-diving party.

Easily the biggest and most touted change from the original is the addition of a story mode, which is a pretty big deal since the core of the series has always been party creation, skill tree management, and other anal retentive activities that appeal to those of us that can have serious bouts of monomania. Luckily, playing through the story mode doesn’t detract from all of the obsessive-compulsive qualities fans love about Etrian Odyssey. If anything, the only detractor in that regard is that you have to use a pre-made party and have to read through some longer than typical dialogue sequences – both things that are easy to endure and are actually enjoyable at times.

The story itself isn’t going to wow you with its originality, since it’s got everything you’d expect - the amnesiac girl from an ancient civilization, the city leader with a mysterious air, the bumbling hungry guy, so on and so forth. Luckily, the actual dialogue that fleshes out the story is well-written and normally doesn’t go on needlessly to keep you from getting back into the dungeon. There are a lot of dialogue options to pick from as the story progresses too, although you can tell that they found a way to write every one of them back to the same conclusion, so in the end they don’t really matter. There’s no morality bar or branching storylines here, it’s just classic RPG stuff to provide reasons for all of this adventuring.

It was a little hard for me to swallow letting the game proscribe a party for me since toying around with that aspect is something I’ve come to love about the series. More of an adjustment is the skill tree that felt somewhat rudimentary after just playing Etrian Odyssey IV. There are less means to leverage one party member’s skills off of another and there seem to be less interesting skills in general, but this is a remake after all, and they had to keep the foundations intact. The deeper I got in the game, though, the more I found hidden gems in the initially unattractive branches of the skill trees and soon forgot my disappointment.

A few new features have been added to the basics, like Grimoire Stones and the ability to buy tinctures and other assists from your guild keepers. The guild keeper bonuses are simple, allowing for benefits like increases in party HP or regeneration of TP at the end of each turn in-battle. Once you start using these options, stopping by your home base before every outing becomes necessary or you’ll expect those perks and then get screwed when you realize you left town without re-upping them. The Grimoire Stone system on the other hand is a bit opaque and really feels like it was added simply for the sake of adding something new.

You’re awarded Grimoire Stones during battle under certain conditions, and they have different abilities attached to them. You can synthesize different ones together and customize them into a combo you find more useful. This synthesis process is explained, but not very well, or at least its benefits are not made apparent. After reading the instructions a couple of times and doing some experiments, I decided to primarily use whatever was randomly given to me and not mess with it much. Once I had a set that helped me out in most battles, I left them alone – except to throw some away once I had collected more than the allowed 99.

Outside of all of the new content, the base game is as pleasingly addictive as I’ve come to expect from the series. Completing quests for the townsfolk, delving one level deeper into the dungeon, creating an intricate map of a floor, and pushing my party through one more risky battle flips every one of my switches.  I was fairly obsessed, playing for a solid month during every free moment I could muster – and I’m still not done.

Even if the game were comprised of the original dungeon maps alone, there’s plenty here to be impressed by. You would think that after a few floors were mapped out and a few dozen enemy types were defeated, you’d have it all down and plow ahead without using your noggin one bit, but that isn’t what happens at all. The enemies continue to be gifted with a huge variety of compounding abilities that you have to puzzle through depending on their strengths, combinations, and placements in every single battle. Reaching a new dungeon floor doesn’t always lead to a new environment or color palette, but different requirements to traverse the floor continuously crop up. Sometimes you have to puzzle through lengthy series of one-way passages and other times you have to go up and down staircases to find the particular door you’re looking for. You’re always on guard and always engaged with what’s happening on both the map and action screen.

Add to the huge classic dungeon an entirely new dungeon with its own tricky maneuvering and there’s plenty to enjoy here for veterans of the first release and people – like me – who missed out initially. You can even take advantage of a few new ways to speed things up a bit, like a “run” button and floor jumps that let you teleport to stairs on completed floors. Both of these, and other friendly measures like markers for secret passages, might make OG players think this version is for babies and not the true experience. Even with all of these niceties, though, there are plenty of opportunities to get trounced, lose tons of progress, and squeak out of a battle with a lone survivor and barely make it back to town. It’s just as hardcore as it should be, even if the toughest spots can be traveled to a little faster.

Like I said in my Etrian Odyssey IV review, this series isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but between these last two entries, I’m starting to feel like there are fewer and fewer people out there that can’t get something out of these games. Atlus has honed their Wizardry-based formula, added the right convenience measures, kept the right amount of potential for soul-destroying defeats, and now added an acceptable narrative for those that need that too. All of my minor beefs with Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl are easily overlooked (or avoided completely) with no detriment to the experience, and what I found unnecessary might really hook someone else. It’s time to find out if the series will grab you by starting at the beginning with this remake and drawing that first dungeon map – you won’t regret it. 

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


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Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Nick DiMola Director

09/30/2013 at 01:03 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

This game is great. Played a few dungeons already and I'm hooked. Can't wait to play more tonight!

transmet2033

09/30/2013 at 01:23 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I probably should not have saved the 7 bucks and ordered it on newegg because it most likely will not be here tomorrow.

mothman

09/30/2013 at 02:16 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I played the demo and enjoyed it very much. Too much to play right now so I won't be getting it soon.

Alex-C25

09/30/2013 at 05:06 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Great review. Since I never played any of the games before, i'll take your word and probably start with this one.

Pacario

09/30/2013 at 05:50 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

My time being as precious as it is, these type of games in which a player can lose hours of play time due to one unfortunate mistake kinda scare me. But I've been hearing about this series for quite a while now, and if I'm ever going to dive in, this seems as good as any place to start.

And who can resist that deluxe, preorder bonus edition?

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

09/30/2013 at 06:58 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

You will lose progress and have frustrating moments, but that's what makes it compelling. You will never lose *hours* of time in one go, though. You'll have to go back to town to recharge (and save) much more often than that.

KnightDriver

10/03/2013 at 04:07 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I'm playing on the easiest possible difficulty, using the premade characters, and auto-fighting whenever I can. So far it's not been too easy or too hard. I haven't lost any progress, and I've been challenged and entertained.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

09/30/2013 at 07:31 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

good review!  I'm still playing IV. 

KnightDriver

10/03/2013 at 04:11 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I played the EOU demo and then EOIV for a week or two just before switching back to the EOU full version and EOU does lack some of the features of EOIV like the Forge and airship segments, but it does add the ability to jump to the stairs on a map that you've drawn to completion. I really wanted that in EOIV.

KnightDriver

10/03/2013 at 04:11 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Oh yea, and the run ability.

Nick DiMola Director

10/18/2013 at 10:54 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

I love this game so much. Still totally hooked. Just finished the first area of Gladsheim and I'm nearly down to the 7th floor. Don't have much time to play, so it's been a bit slow going, but man, I can't believe how hard I've fallen for this one.

transmet2033

10/18/2013 at 11:00 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

That is almost exactly where I am at in the game.  I just have to work on my strategy for the Gladhseim boss.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

10/18/2013 at 11:58 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

I have slowed down immensely since hitting it hard for this review. The 3DS says I am at 90 hours and I'm still not done. Still having fun, but getting slammed by the 20th level boss. Get psyched up for that!!

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

01/23/2014 at 09:13 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Just thought I would update that after being away from the game for a couple of months to work on other projects and games, I went back to it and finished today. The final time on the clock to finish the game was 117 hours, 35 minutes. There is, of course, now a lot of additional content I can go play, but I'm not going to right now. 

Notable that of almost 120 hours of gameplay, I only had one dedicated period of grinding, and even that wasn't too bad. I don't think I was ever bored while playing outside of a little bit during that grinding session. If you're a person who puts a dollar per hour valuation on your games, it's going to be hard to top this one. 

A great game in a great series. Give it a try! There's a demo if you're not sure if it's for you.

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