Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl 3DS Impressions
So most Nintendo users are probably aware that Atlus USA had a fairly big contest last week, the purpose of which was to get as many people as possible to write about their upcoming port of a popular Japanese game. The game in question, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, has a demo now available on the Nintendo eShop, and is a little taste of the full game. It is a remake of the original Etrian Odyssey game, complete with the dungeon exploring, area mapping, questing, and monster combat that fans of the series have come to expect. However, the game also has a story mode that is new to the series. Complete with cut scenes, pre-defined characters, and an overarching story, Atlus really changed up how the game works. While the allure of a free game such as one of the Shin Megami Tensai entries was strong, we decided to hold off until the contest was over so as to emphasize the neutrality of this review. Want to know whether this preview leaves the player wanting more? Read on!
As this is an update of a previous title, the first thing to address with the demo is the use of the new technology. The original Etrian Odyssey was on the DS, and as such had only one sixtieth of the color depth available. Also, it had less processing power, and due to the limits of the hard media, there was less data present on the card. With the new game, you still have the original core experience – that of an individual venturing forth in to a labyrinth to find your destiny, recruiting up to twenty-five allies as you go. The story mode, however, is more akin to traditional RPGs, in that you have a set starting skill set, a small group of allies, and a mission that evolves as the game progresses. Unlike previous installments, the game play has cut scenes present, and spoken lines and interjections during playable dialogue. The graphics are leaps ahead of other Etrian Odyssey games, and even the more basic images are very crisp. Moreover, the inclusion of cut scenes, even as animations, is effective, as it makes the game feel more like an interactive animated feature. While it would be nice if all of the graphics were 3D, the need to maintain some of the feel of the original is understandable.
As far as the story in Story Mode goes, the main player character is an individual from one of the Highland areas around Etria. His clan sends him because the ruler of Etria has summoned a Highlander to investigate some strange incidents that have been happening recently. After mapping a part of the labyrinth – as Atlus advertises, re-rendered in 3D – you go on a mission to the ruins of an ancient town called Gladsheim. The technology present in the ruins is clearly advance, establishing that the game is set in the future. Later dialogue hints that your adventures are happening in what used to be the United States. When you finally find something relevant – a capsule that still has power – you discover that it is a cryogenic chamber containing an amnesiac girl named Frederica. After fighting off monsters with three people – Simon, Arthur, and Raquna – from a distant place called the Midgard Library, all five of you come to the agreement that you can better solve the mysterious issues by working together. The demo stops just as you manage to map the second level of the labyrinth and move down to the third. However, in that time, you have learned everything about the game play system, formed your core party, established a rapport with everyone in town, and discovered what Alfred Hitchcock called “the MacGuffin” of the story. Not bad for a demo, and it definitely leaves you wanting more.
The game play system itself is both familiar and unique, offering enough innovations to set the game apart, but keeping to traditional setups enough that genre fans new to the series won’t feel alienated. Combat is the basic turn-based “pick actions for your party and let it all resolve” setup. However, Magic and Special Attacks are combined in to the “Skills” category. Each character in story mode has a set class, while classic mode allows for a multitude of options. Either way, while it is possible to smash through the game with just the attack and defend options, skills make combat far easier. Thus, strategy is not just an annoying necessity, but a fun enterprise. The navigation and exploration as a grid-based first-person experience really makes the game stand out, since the navigation is simpler than many other games.
Overall, this demo did everything that it needed to do. It gave people a limited experience of the game that in no way seems like a deprivation. It stops at the exact point where you have to know what’s next. And most importantly, unlike some demos, it allows gamers to experience a small dose of everything in the game. Hopefully, Atlus will follow up the promising demo with a great game.