|Release: August 4, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and Partial Nudity|
by Jenni Lada
It takes a special kind of person to play a dungeon crawler, especially an Etrian Odyssey installment. To call these demanding RPGs a challenge is an understatement. They push you to your limits, demanding time and effort far beyond other games. Every entry is a masochistic pleasure for the elite.
Still, sometimes more casual players feel like a bit of dungeon-crawling amusement, and that's where Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight comes in. Anyone who enters this labyrinth is met with choices. Take the easy road or the one fraught with peril? Experience an original story or make up your own with characters you create? It's your story now.
If you decide to go through the Story Mode new to Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold, it's all about Arianna and the Fafnir Knight. A young man and his friend, Flavio, were orphans raised by the Midgard Library. Upon coming of age, the two find themselves members of the organization's Investigation Team and tasked with becoming bodyguards to a princess. Arianna possesses a birthmark that designates her as the one who must journey into the Ginnungagap ruins to perform a ceremony that happens every hundred years. Of course, it isn't as easy as just entering ruins, as the Yggdrasil Dungeon outside of High Lagaard must be explored in conjunction with Ginnungagap.
That's the meat of any Etrian Odyssey game. Players get a multi-level dungeon to explore and chart. The bottom screen has a map, allowing players to use the stylus to draw floors and walls, place icons to show areas of interests, and leave notes on important places. Turn-based battles occur when as you explore. A gauge can be built up with attacks, allowing special abilities to be unleashed. Bosses await at the end of each stratum, but challenging fights with special opponents called F.O.E.s can happen on most floors and totally ruin your day if you're unprepared.
The first voyage into Ginnungagap introduces everyone to another of Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold's newest elements, the titular Fafnir Knight. The hero hears a strange voice when he enters the ruins, taking him to a battle within his own mind. A pact is formed, allowing him to transform into a fierce beast of a man, dealing unimaginable damage and transforming his arm. It's a fearsome class, capable of temporarily giving players access to elemental attacks that hit foes multiple times. Simply put, it's perfect for battles against bosses and the occasional, dreaded, stronger-than-usual F.O.E. opponent when exploring the story mode.
It exemplifies a trend in Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold. Atlus is clearly working to make the game more accomodating to players' needs. It isn't only about making it more accessible with Picnic difficulty levels. It's about alterations to returning systems that improve the general experience.
While these are most evident in Story Mode, the updates are everywhere. The Classic Mode includes the Grimoire stone mechanic from previous games, allowing players to customize their ability sets. Map icons are more detailed in both modes, with options to automatically draw floors and walls for those who want to avoid being bogged down by minutiae. The turn-based battle system offers command confirmations, if you prefer to double-check your orders. When you invest points in an area of the skill tree, it will automatically add the new abilities for that level to that character's repertoire. It's the little things that matter.
However, people who would rather avoid most of those extra trappings can. It's entirely possible to see Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold as an opportunity to revisit the original DS game with improved graphics, mechanics, and re-balancing. After all, the first version of the game isn't exactly easy to acquire anymore.