Title: Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold - The Fafnir Knight

Platform: 3DS

Reviewed on: 3DS

Genre: JRPG

Players: Single player




Written by Bad Demoman 11th February 2016

















Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold:The Fafnir Knight is a JRPG that released over in America a fair while back and in Japan bloody ages ago. We're finally getting it over here in Europe. It's essentially a remake of the DS Title Etrian Odyssey 2 for the 3DS, but with a new game mode that adds...a story? That seems an odd addition, but it all makes sense with a little back story on what Etrian really is.


A Youtuber I happen to be a fan of once said (Satirically, mind) “It's an RPG boys, the story doesn't matter!”. This was essentially true for the original Etrian Odyssey series. A lot of the time, it was just an excuse to explore the Labyrinth that is apparently a civic requirement in every city of this fantasy world. The local elder will tell you “We think something’s up in the labyrinth and its doing odd things. We should probably stop living next to them, but instead we're going to send you in to kill everything dead”. The Untold remakes look to fix that. You can play Classic mode where, as in previous Etrian Odyssey games, you'll create all your characters. However, Story Mode gives you a set party of 5 and the considerably expanded storyline that this can facilitate. The first Etrian Odyssey Untold had a mixed cast of great characters and a couple of stand-out obnoxious ones (I really couldn't bring myself to like the bratty alchemist, Arthur!). This time though, Atlus have really outdone themselves with admittedly little to work with. While Etrian doesn't manage as much interaction and personality as some other Atlus RPGs like Persona, the small moments you do get with your party are always endearing.




















The titular Fafnir Knight is a silent protagonist, but you can give him a personality of sorts through your responses to your party members. He undergoes a transformation that allows him to use strange powers, but also turns his arm into that of a monster. You'll be accompanied a colourful cast: Arianna, an ever so slightly naïve princess; Flavio, your considerate childhood friend; Bertrand, a lazy knight who somehow gets the label of “old man” despite looking late-20s to mid-30s at the very most; and finally Chloe, a food obsessed but reclusive little girl that accompanies Bertrand. Each of the characters have some great chemistry but they do unfortunately sometimes feel like they serve very clear cut roles in situations you encounter – Arianna's naivety will lead her to suggest a decision with potentially negative outcomes, like petting the “adorable” monster who will most likely maim you or pilfer your valuable goods, while Bertrand will be the one to warn everyone away from said monster. Even so, their chemistry feels genuine, and their solo moments with the protagonist feel heartfelt. It's hard not to get attached to the little girl that confides her worries that her lifelong protector will leave her, or the childhood friend that worries about the changes the protagonist is undergoing thanks to his adventure.


The Story Mode is a great option to make Etrian a more accessible option for traditional RPG fans, although it does prevent exploring the classes quite as much. I'm admittedly not a fan of the original line-up that Story Mode gives you, as I find it a little too support-heavy for my tastes. While you can change your character’s class, it does cost you five levels, so I would recommend trying out a bit of Classic, if only just to see what all the classes are about. All classes are available to you in Story Mode bar one, the Beast (it would be hard to change one of your humans into a giant wolf!). Meanwhile Classic mode will allow you to try out a variety of different class types and team compositions, although it can be quite frustrating having to keep an entire army of characters up to snuff in terms of experience and equipment. The class variety is fantastic, with most classes even having multiple ways that they can be played. You could try out a front-line mage or gunner, while the War Magus class is incredibly versatile with its ability to heal, support with ailments and buffs or even be a front line warrior. Some are more restrictive, forcing a squishy healer to take on the labyrinth on the front-line is likely to result in a much harder game.






















Once you've got your team sorted out, you can finally enter the labyrinth where you'll be spending the bulk of the game. Here you'll discover one of Etrian's main gimmicks, which is very much so a love-or-hate situation – the labyrinth is unmapped, and so the role of creating a map for it falls to you. In order to gain the essential ability to teleport between explored floors, your map must be within a certain degree of accuracy. If this isn't your thing, auto-mapping can be enabled to draw in all the floors and walls leaving you to fill in only the most specific of details, which aren't even strictly required. However, in combination with the first person perspective and a party of your creation should you be playing Classic mode, drawing your own map makes Etrian Odyssey one of the most engrossing and immersive RPGs I've ever played. This is important, because Etrian does little to excite otherwise – it's a pretty standard dungeon crawling RPG. Battle mechanics are serviceable, but nothing particularly special. It's a pretty standard fare of turn based combat where the fastest will move first. The Force system allows you a limit break-esque state that does a fantastic job of further emphasizing the difference in role between the different classes, giving each class a thematically fitting passive ability for a short time as well as the one time use of an extremely powerful attack, which will end your powered up state and render it inoperable until you rest at town. A desperation attack of sorts. The Gunner will be able to use all of their abilities twice per turn, while the Protector can neutralize all damage against their team for that turn. Any strategy is largely reliant on your particular team set-up, and this is where it's particularly clear that the game was designed to be played with a varied selection of characters, as some strategies can be hard to execute against certain enemies.


Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold is Europe’s first chance to experience the second in the Etrian Odyssey series, so is it a case of finally getting to see what we were missing, or were we better off without it? I'd certainly say the former. I'm a big fan of both game modes, which serve different purposes. Story Mode gives you a normal RPG experience, albeit still a stellar one. Classic Mode, on the other hand, basically allows you to immerse yourself in it's world and supplies you a skeleton story to fill in with your own imagination, like a pre-made Dungeons and Dragons campaign. While battles might be fairly standard they're still fairly enjoyable, by no means bad at all. Besides which, they feel more like a frame for the story that Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold wants to tell – or, in Classic mode, the story it wants you to create.



Pros:

An immersive world to create your own story in,

Charming characters and a great story if you don't want to imagine your own,

A varied selection of classes to experiment with.


Cons:

Story Mode is more restrictive with your classes,

Battles are nothing special.


Final Verdict,
Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold:The Fafnir Knight gets an 8/10.


Written by,

Bad Demoman




    
















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