Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By David Lovato 30.07.2015

Review for Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight on Nintendo 3DS

In the late 2000s, Shin Megami Tensei developer Atlus launched Etrian Odyssey on the Nintendo DS, a series that challenges explorers to enter, map, and solve the mystery of local dungeons, using the DS' touch screen as an empty canvas. The series was a hit and, with the added power of the 3DS, Atlus re-released the first game as Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl, which included new features like a story mode and updated music. Now Atlus has done the same with its sequel. After an early look at the game recently, how does the final version of Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight compare?

Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold opens with an animated music video to introduce the characters and the world. Similar animated sequences are sprinkled throughout, and while these are lovely, they tend to be short and don't come often. For the most part, the story is text-based. Character avatars pop up, and while these change depending on the situation and even animate at times (such as characters blinking), the vast majority of the campaign features these static images. It's almost hard to see this as a fault; it's more like a style choice, making the title feel similar to other imagination-based fantasies like Dungeons and Dragons or Magic: The Gathering. That said, the amount of time spent staring at these static pictures builds up, and sometimes the visuals are underwhelming.

Much of the unease caused by the lack of movement is quelled by the characters' voices. Many lines are voiced, or are at least accompanied by a sound or phrase from the character speaking. These lines are delivered well and, with the exception of one or two hilariously mismatched NPCs, the characters' voices fit their looks and personalities. Nobody talks enough to ruin the "imagine your own adventure" vibe found throughout, nor do they stay silent so long as to make things feel sterile or inactive. Atlus has struck an interesting balance here, and while it doesn't tread this thin line flawlessly, its work is good enough to keep The Fafnir Knight alive but unobtrusive.

Screenshot for Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight on Nintendo 3DS

For those less concerned with the story in general, the original Etrian Odyssey 2 is included in its entirety. Rather than these pre-made characters and story events, players can choose different avatars and make their own guild full of characters they design. This truly adds a whole other game to the mix; the story is less personal and perhaps even more static, but many possibilities are opened up with more varied classes and the ability to swap out members depending on the situation.

At first, The Fafnir Knight plays just like the The Millenium Girl, but very soon begins to differ in small ways that quickly add up. The first few hours might feel like working through the same title with a different skin but steadily, over time, new features present themselves, inspiring awe and never becoming overwhelming for those familiar with previous entries. The core gameplay involves venturing into two local dungeons on a quest to help a princess perform a ritual. The dungeons are labyrinths, and explorers must make their own map, drawing it on the 3DS' touch screen as they go. Monsters abound, and battles are first-person and turn-based, similar to most of the Shin Megami Tensei series, but the monsters in Etrian Odyssey are fully-animated, fully-rendered models. These offer a breath of fresh air from the static shots found throughout the rest of the game, and besides these, the labyrinths themselves are also quite beautiful and make good use of the system's 3D. Being first-person, players can move about or hold still and use the Circle Pad to look around.

Screenshot for Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight on Nintendo 3DS

Another new feature is the force system. Each character has a force meter that builds up over time and, when full, it unlocks their special ability. Most of these are power-ups that last for three turns, after which they either return to normal to let the meter build up again or can activate a "force break," an ultimate attack that will also disable the force meter for the rest of the day's exploration.

Outside of battle, new features include a city-building mini-game. Money collected from quests and dungeons can be used to enhance the surrounding city of High Lagaard, and the main party helps run a restaurant where dishes are made from ingredients collected from the labyrinths' monsters. These dishes can also grant the party a power-up for the day, making the mini-game well worth participating in. Unfortunately, the whole thing is managed by a user interface that consists of a static shot of the city, with a few stationary icons that sit over it. The gameplay is functional, but in comparison to the visuals just seem lazy and uninspired.

Screenshot for Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight on Nintendo 3DS

Atlus plans to extend and expand Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold with post-launch DLC, some of which is free, yet most is paid, and rather than making the game last longer (it will likely offer dozens of hours to begin with) much of the DLC is focused instead on offering cosmetic alterations or missions geared at prepping series newcomers with plenty of money or experience. For more diehard fans, some DLC exists to present challenging missions or boss battles.

StreetPass functionality is also present, with adventurers putting together Guild Cards to exchange either wirelessly or via scannable QR codes. These can also be used to exchange Grimoire Stones, in-game items that give characters free skills, or stat boosts.

Screenshot for Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Atlus doesn't reinvent the Etrian Odyssey wheel with 2 Untold, but it does build on what made the first release so much fun, without making any readily apparent sacrifices. It features the original Etrian Odyssey 2, as well as a new story-based campaign, successfully separating itself from both the first Untold and the original sequel. While The Fafnir Knight could benefit from more inspired UI elements (especially in building the city and managing the restaurant) and maybe a little more life regarding the characters and NPCs, it's clear that this is a solid entry in a unique RPG franchise, and fans and newcomers alike are going to have a lot of fun with it.

Developer

Atlus

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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