Backlog Gaming: Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl

12:29 AM

Title: Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl
Publisher (NA): ATLUS
Date (NA): 01/10/13 (ddmmyy) 
Genre: JRPG

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is the first game in the 'Untold' skew of EO games. Technically, it is a remake of EO1, with a newly added 'Story Mode', and graphics using the new EO4 engine. For the purposes of this piece, I've played through the new Story Mode, as well as some of the Classic. Be aware that I will spoil major plot points for this game in the discussion, so if you want to stay unspoiled for this, turn back now. 
Story Mode has you play through the game with a set party, rather than the traditional generated party.  Your 'main' character is Beowulf, a Highlander. The titular Millennium Girl is Frederica, who initially suffers from amnesia upon waking from her time in cyro-stasis. The remaining three traveling from Midgard, researching the recent geological phenomenons: Simon, Arthur and Raquna.

Beowulf is the typical silent protagonist in all of the animated cut scenes, another new addition to the series (animated by Mad House). In the game you have various dialogue options when spoken to, but have relatively little impact on the actual game. Frederica and the rest of the cast are generally likable, with exception of Arthur, who's boyish 'charge and ask questions later' behaviour can get annoying, especially as it doesn't make a lot of sense considering his class of Alchemist (essentially this game's Runemaster). While likable, they're fairly traditional archetypes. They don't have a great amount of depth to them, with Simon and Arthur being the characters to have their backstories and motivations delved into slightly, or at least so as pertained to the story. 

The most fascinating part of the story is the setting. If you thought Horizon's buzz word of post-post-apocalypse was cool, EO1's story is a post-post-post-apocalypse. [SPOILERS] (highlight text to read) Etrian Odyssey Untold takes place far, far, far in the future. Frederica comes from a thousand years in the game's past - a time not too different from ours, but slightly more advanced. The world at that time is brought to it's knees when a plan to ease global warming with several 'World Trees' goes awry, creating horrific monsters from the absorbed pollution. After that calamity, humanity rebuilds, and we eventually get the game's present day, where almost no trace of the past remains. The fifth and final floor of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth is Lost Shinjuku, cementing the fact that Etria, the main city, is in fact Tokyo. Raquna's family, the Sheldons, are from a distant city named "Ontario". Ring any bells? Coupled with her love of "Maple flavoured ice cream", being from 'the north' and some occasional "eh's" scream that my Protector hails from Canada. It also screams to me that tectonic movement would have occurred, rearranging the layout of the map as we know it.[SPOILERS END]

Story mode is generally easier, with parts streamlined out of the Classic formula. You generally don't need to visit the Explorer's Guild, and the newly added Gladsheim dungeons help level you ahead of where your next labyrinth floor is. It also helps that your party in story mode comes with the powerful Highlander and Gunner class, both new. They occupy unique places in the class spectrum, blending multiple roles and generally just being really powerful. There are also some missions built specifically for story mode, such as a mission that has you roam the labyrinth's 8th floor for 5 days. In classic mode, that's an incredibly long, boring task. In story mode, however, it's a perfect spot to do some character development, as your party roams for 12 hours, and camps through the night. 

The neatest thing about EO:U is seeing how far the series has come. EO1 came out in 2007 on the Nintendo DS. Back then, it was fully 2D, barely anything animated, really tying the game back to the pen and paper RPGs of yester-years. The EOIV engine really brought this series to modern times.

The addition of the story mode was meant to attract a new audience to the relatively niche game. It has a reputation of being a hardcore, old-school RPG that can be unforgiving and difficult to penetrate. Over the years, Atlus has made efforts in making it easier to get into, without taking away from it's trademark difficulty - the Untold skew is perhaps the furthest they've gone. 

Overall, I thought the game was everything I wanted from an Etrian Odyssey game. The story was a nice little add-on, but the stories in this series tend to sit backseat, as well as look kind of the same every time. I managed to pretty much figure out what the story was going to be with the first few hints of what was going on. If there was one thing I would gripe about, it might be that the highlander and gunner classes don't have their own portraits, or that the portraits don't have the second option for colours. Small complaint as the game is a solid remake of a game that, on paper, doesn't sound so old.

Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight hits state side sometime this year, with the demo out this week. This one is a remake of EO2, which I actually own, so I'll be able to compare and do side-by-sides of how the game has evolved. 

Until next time, this has been Kenn. 

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