With Etrian Odyssey IV already gracing Western shelves earlier this year it was rather surprising to hear that not only was Atlus working on bringing yet another Etrian Odyssey game to North America, but it would also be the first game in the franchise’s history to actually feature a legitimate storyline. Not only that but it also is a remake of the original title that started everything back in 2007. Despite this, don’t let the word remake think that Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is in any way a basic rehashing. Does this make the game worth picking up though?
Interestingly enough, one of the newest aspects in Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is the fact that the game’s story mode has an actual plot. While past Etrian Odyssey titles have featured a story, it almost always was vague and was included mostly to provide framework for players to launch their own adventure as they navigated the various dungeons and faced down numerous foes with a custom built party with the story only rarely playing a major role.
With The Millennium Girl however players are immediately thrown into a story where the lead character is a highlander that is set to venture out on his first real assignment. On this mission the highlander runs into a girl that has no memory of her past and seems to be from a different time. This girl is named Frederica and players must fight alongside her to not only recover the girl’s memories but also put a stop to a danger that is threatening the world.
The nameable highlander and Frederica aren’t the only characters in the story mode however; there is also an alchemist, a protector, and a medic to help you along the way. Each of these characters has a unique personality and will interact with each other throughout the story. The combinations of these personalities make for some rather interesting conversations and help give the story a bit of feeling this time around as these characters actually play a role in the adventure rather than simply be created fighters of the player’s choosing.
That being said, both the characters and the story are rife with stereotypical characteristics and events which will make gamers feel like they have played a similar story before. While enjoyable and full of both drama and lighthearted interaction, the story still feels rather simplistic for an RPG that is as lengthy as The Millennium Girl. Of course despite its simplicity, it does feel well-paced and considering how long the game can be, the inclusion of cutscenes, a real cast of characters, and meaningful dialogue does a great job providing an interesting and entertaining story to go along with all of the dungeon crawling players will be doing.
Now one of the first things that players will notice when jumping into The Millennium Girl, if they choose the Story option of course, is that players will have a pre-set party waiting for them when the game unfolds. This means that unlike past games you are not able to create a party of your own though the party given to you has a very nice balance to it as players are given two new classes, a Highlander and Gunner, to fight alongside a Medic, Protector and Alchemist.
Another major difference for those who’ve only touched upon Etrian Odyssey IV is the fact that there is no overworld for players to explore and find various duneons. Instead players are taken straight to any dungeon that they have been able to get to so far and there they will take on the various missions that they have been assigned. While the lack of a worldmap is disappointing, it does keep the game a bit more focused as there is only the town of Etria and the dungeons to worry about.
The Millennium Girl’s battle system remains very much the same as what was offered in Etrian Odyssey IV though a few of the more in-depth details have been removed. As such the game’s combat system is very similar and that is actually a good thing because IV’s combat was polished to such a high extent that seeing it in The Millennium Girl is a gift. For those who don’t know, players will still encounter enemies while they are navigating through dungeons and be taken into a first person battle screen where they will take on enemies in turn based combat.
Both the player’s party and enemies can fight in two rows and as each party member levels up they are capable of learning various skills in a customizable skill tree that lets players choose to level their party members to fit their playstyle. There are also items called “Grimoire Stones” which can be obtained from a fight that, when equipped, can provide that character a new ability that can be used in battle or even a new weapon to equip. These stones can only be changed around in town so it is diverse but limiting in that factor.
Earlier you may have seen how I mentioned that there the starting party is nicely balanced and because of this the various fights players will encounter are a bit fairer this time around as players won’t be venturing into dungeons with a party of ill-prepared classes only to be smashed into oblivion. However even with that balancing The Millennium Girl is still not a cakewalk by any means as the game’s combat still requires players to be well versed with the game’s systems and think about what they are doing or else they will only be meeting their end.
While there are difficulty options that can make the game somewhat easy to make it through, it is entirely possible to be eliminated by even the weakest looking enemies if the player doesn’t take them seriously enough. Fights are plentiful and the powerful FOEs still exist in the game meaning that there are plenty of times that the player may need to run with their tail between their legs or suffer a severe beating.
Those unfamiliar with Etrian Odyssey may not have learned about this feature, but anyone who has played one of these games before knows of the game’s mapping system. The bottom screen of the 3DS is used to create a map of the dungeon and players have the ability to create their very own map and chart out every bit of the dungeon if they please. This system is great for the hardcore and always proves useful thanks to the fact that there is a fair it of backtracking and revisiting of dungeons so having a planned route is always a key to success, but it always seemed like a difficult challenge for newcomers to overcome.
Thankfully there is something new in The Millennium Girl that will make things a bit easier as the game now has the option to auto-map a dungeon. With this option turned on the player will no longer need to draw the basic parts of the map as the paths and walls will automatically be filled in. Players still need to add their own personal touches however as notable locations, such as shortcuts, healing locations or other unique areas are not automatically filled out. This still makes the game a lot easier for those who are looking for a jumping point to the series.
Of course for the hardcore among us there is also an option to completely forgo the story mode and many of the new additions in “Classic Mode.” In this mode players are given the authentic Etrian Odyssey experience where they will be able to create a party of their own without the worries of a story to bog them down. However Atlus has made a very odd choice in creating only one save file for The Millennium Girl. This means that if the player chooses to switch from Classic to Story or vice versa, they will lose all of their progress if they choose to save. Considering there are two modes of play here this is a very poor design choice which may catch players unaware and losing a lot of progress.
One thing that helps tie everything together in The Millennium Girl is how great the game looks. Everything from the character portraits and enemies you fight against is gorgeous looking. The characters are nicely designed and detailed and they look absolutely stunning when presented in the animated cutscenes that populate The Millennium Girl’s story mode.
As for the enemy designs they are varied well enough and everything has a very crisp look to it. That being said, there is some issues with the dungeons becoming fairly repetitive looking after a while and a number of assets have been re-used from IV.
It is interesting to note that, since this is the first game to have legitimate characters in the Etrian Odyssey series and there are animated cutscenes, there is some English voice work for the game, though it is only partially dubbed as most dialogue is still presented as text only. This is still a nice touch as it adds a little more flavor to the cast.
Outside of the voice work The Millennium Girl’s soundtrack is wondrous. The game’s soundtrack is a real delight thanks to the work done by composer Yuzo Koshiro who has redone a number of old pieces of music for this game. It is interesting to note if you want to listen to the classic music, there is an option to switch between the old songs used in the original version of the game.
Etrian Odyssey is a franchise with a significant level of difficulty to jump into but Atlus has managed to lower that bar by making the game more accessible without sacrificing the crippling difficulty for those who are looking for it. With a story that, while far from original, helps direct the flow of the game, various options for assistance in the game and a number of other tweaks and modes for players who want to punish themselves, The Millennium Girl’s refined combat and great look make for an excellent RPG that nearly everyone can enjoy.
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