For a summary of the review, just read below. If you want to see the whole thing, click on “Continue reading”.Image: http://gbatemp.net/data/reviews/boxart/full/140.jpg
Yep, another dungeon-crawler RPG but it’s one I definitely enjoy playing and is worth trying it out for new players, and veterans of the genre alike.
Etrian Odyssey is a series of dungeon-crawler RPGs that are reminiscent to the old-style dungeon RPGs but with a modern twist. While each game in the series has different features between each other, they all feature a similar style of gameplay: Creating your own party from a selection of classes, exploring unknown dungeons and mazes while drawing up your map like an explorer.
Untold is the remake of the original Etrian Odyssey that was released on the DS way back in 2007, with a original storyline of sorts, improved overall gameplay and balance, enhanced 3D graphics, smoother animations and flow, and a remade orchestral track.
Tl;Dr (Too long; Didn’t read)
Etrian Odyssey Untold is, while a niche game, a good game overall for its genre. Not everyone can get into it as they may be frustrated about the whole drawing map idea and how they have to manually do it instead of the game automatically drawing it. They may also be thrown off by the simple looks of the game (no 3D models of the characters for example) and the fact that there are no fancy animations and such to keep them interested. The idea that players cannot rush straight ahead into the bosses without grinding can also be considered.
However if you’re willing to think outside the box, it’s good. It makes great and active use of the touchscreen, a feature some 3DS games don’t do. The simple aesthetics and animations of the game are sort of a fanservice to gamers who like the old-style rpgs while the difficulty level and the fact that grinding is fairly common in these games can attract those hardcore rpg gamers. (This particular game is easier compared to the previous entries though)
The game does offer a considerable game length; Classic mode gives the player a fair bit of customization, allowing multiple replays with different parties for example, thus creating a longer game length (if you like that sort of thing). As for Story mode it is probably shorter in terms of game length as it offers less customization and gives you directions as to where to go next. While the story is cliche and predictable, it is somewhat interesting as we get to see the characters develop, see their past and understand their personalities.
I’d give it a 7 out of 10 if I had to score it. Worth playing but by no means recommended for everyone.
Example of an animated cutscene
The game itself is split into 2 game modes: Story and Classic. Story mode is the new mode for this particular game, following a original storyline with a set of named characters, while Classic allows you to play like the previous entries of the series; creating your own party from a selection.
In Story mode you are presented with 5 characters that you must use as your party, and you cannot create any new characters at all. There are features however, that allows them to learn new / different skills besides their pre-set ones. Additional elements unique to Story mode includes animated cut scenes and voiced dialogue, in and out of battle.
In Classic mode you can create a party of 5, choosing from 9 different classes each with various abilities, strengths and weaknesses. The gameplay flow is a bit faster compared to Story mode, as you simply need to get to the end. There are no extra story events or cutscenes in this mode.
Unfortunately, you cannot play both modes at the same time, as the game only offers 1 save slot.
The main feature of the game is the ability of drawing out the map yourself (touchscreen), rather than the game automatically making one for you. While the game does show where you have traversed on the map, everything else is done by yourself. You can draw lines to represent the walls, pinpoint the location of the entrances and exits, point out various events, shortcuts and triggers alike, and even leave notes on the map if you think there is something worth pointing out. In this particular game though, you are rewarded with the quick-jump option for the current floor you are in if you managed to explore the majority of it, so it’s usually worth exploring around and drawing on your map. While it is not required to do so, it makes “re-explorations” much easier as you will be often coming in and out of these dungeons to heal, sell items, and do other various things.
An example of the map being drawn.
In general, you will want to try to explore each floor as much as you can before moving onto the next. Rushing ahead may often not be the best idea as they are always new monsters for each floor, often packing more power than the previous. If there are doors or other areas you cannot access straight away, it is often wise to leave it alone and come back later once you do have access (it may be due to requiring a certain item or that there are other entrances to that part of the floor).
There are also “boss” enemies called FOEs. These are really strong monsters that usually travel in some sort of pattern. Knowing their pattern will increase your survival as for the most part, encountering them for the first time will mean death. Fortunately the game does offer you a radar of sorts, letting you know if your party can take them on or not.
Battles are a simple turn-based fashion but with some hidden elements that aren’t well explained in-game, such as speed priority. TP management is crucial in a game like this as you may need to rely on items for healing and there are only a few instances where you can get fully heal in the dungeons… so it’s up to you whether you want to use TP or not during battle.
The usual RPG elements such as weaknesses and item drops are present in this game, but with a higher importance. Item drops will provide you with more equipment, while knowing and remembering an enemy’s weakness can be the crucial key to winning. Aliments are also present but are much more powerful compared to other RPGs where they can be ignored and won’t weaken your characters as much. For example, Poison is extremely deadly early game if not handled properly. If a character has any of their body parts Binded, they may not use certain skills (depending on the body part) and may be weakened overall in terms of offense and defense.
Story and Graphics
As mentioned, Story Mode brings out an original story with a set of characters.
The general gist, it is about a Highlander who is sent by his master to explore the dungeons in order to solve the mysterious earthquakes that has been happening lately, pulling both veteran and newcomer explorers away. While he is exploring some ruins, he runs into a small group of characters and finds a capsule which contains an amnesiac girl. She claims to not have any memories prior to her awakening, but often recalls such memories as meeting the Highlander beforehand, and is able to control machinery such as switches and terminals without any trouble. Joining together as a team, they set off to hopefully find the answers to their problems while helping out the townspeople by completing their requests and missions.
A “FOE” shown during exploration.
All monsters during battle have 3D models, where as the “FOEs” monsters have an active 3D model outside of battle as well (as seen above) while your characters are merely shown as 2D portraits. All monsters have set animations for their actions, similar to what Pokemon X and Y does.
Each dungeon is nicely detailed for what they are (First set of dungeons is a forest and obviously it is filled with trees, flowers and sun rays at certain areas for example) but because you’re exploring several floors for each dungeon, it can suffer from repetition as you’ll be seeing the same atmosphere over and over until you enter the next dungeon (and repeat the cycle again). If you’re like me, you will get sick of it after a while and wished they had done more to differentiate each floor from one other.
Because the game is displayed in first-person, you do not see any actual battle animations aside from the monsters. Therefore you don’t seed any swords swinging around or shields being raised, all you get to see are slashes, a splash of fire, lightning bolts and the like. Very simple animations, nothing too technical or exaggerated; Reminiscent of the old-school style.
Music and Sound
The game uses an orchestral soundtrack used for the majority of the game, which sounds pretty good for what it is. There aren’t any memorable tracks but they’re pleasant to listen to and works well with the dungeon-exploring portions of the game. The sound has also got an upgrade compared to the original, mostly using sound clips from the 4th game (also on the 3DS).
The game does offer an option to switch between the orchestral soundtrack, and the old soundtrack used in the original, for those nostalgic moments. It’s a nice feature and I wish that more remakes like this and Pokemon HeartGold offers the ability to change music between old and new.