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Matt Soucy

Review: Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold

in games by Matt Soucy - Comments

Most recently, the game I've been sinking time into is Etrian Odyssey Untold 2, by Atlus.

The basic idea is simple - there's a large labyrinth, and a ton of adventurers who want to explore it. You control a guild of these explorers as you map out each floor, fighting the monsters inside on your way to the mythical floating castle. Story mode adds additional story, giving you a set cast to use with a more specific mission: Descend into the ruins of Ginnungagap to complete a ritual.

Though the game has a 2 in its title, it's actually the sixth Etrian Odyssey game - there are the original I-IV, and the Untold games are remakes of I and II that add a story mode, many mapping improvements, and some gameplay cleanup. There are also other related games, like Etrian Mystery Dungeon (uses the Mystery Dungeon gameplay, but Etrian Odyssey setting and classes) and Persona Q (Uses the Etrian Odyssey engine, but Persona 3 and 4 characters).

During exploration, you move along the labyrinth in a 2d grid, looking out for shortcuts, gathering points, and treasure. All is not easy, though: as you walk around your chance of encountering monsters increases. Battles involve two sides, in two rows each - the front row is more susceptible to damage, but can also deal more melee damage. Different classes are more useful in one row or the other.

Not only are there random battles, but there are also beings called FOEs, which have a variety of fun nicknames ("Freakishly Overpowered Enemies", "F's over everyone"). These creatures are vicious, and large enough that they're visible on the map when exploring. When you first encounter one, you will almost certainly get wiped out. Each of the labyrinth's 35, including the postgame stratum and Ginnungagap floors has its own FOEs, and a big portion of navigating each floor is studying the FOEs' behavior. For instance, 1F's Ragelopes will walk in circles nonstop (unless you run into them), while 16F's bird FOEs are territorial and protect their nests, so you can clear an area of them by luring them toward another nest that's out of the way. This adds a fun challenge, carefully plotting your moves to allow you to advance, avoiding or guiding the FOEs.

Since I've been playing story mode, I've basically kept my characters at their original classes, but after I complete story mode I plan on using New Game+ to enter Classic Mode - this will allow me to create my own characters, pick their classes, and have a larger guild to better handle a variety of situations. I look forward to trying to mix and match some of the classes:

Overall, it's a fantastic game that I've easily put a hundred hours into. It manages to stay fun, giving many quests and other things to do (like the recipie system, hunting down items from various locations and enemies) and has quite a few challenging bosses. I'd give it a solid 9.7, for its excellent mapping system, addictive gameplay, and rich world.