"Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millennium Girl could easily be the most accessible game in the Etrian Odyssey series, allowing newcomers the chance to enjoy the first game with the polish of later titles, while also bringing back fans of the series who want to relive the magic all over again, with fancy new tools."
Well guys I've just reached the second Stratum of Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millennium Girl and I thought this would be a good time to use my Ariadne Thread and come back to the surface for some air. Come join me for a flagon of ale in Etria's famous Golden Deer Pub and I'll regale you with the tales of blood-thirsty wolves, of bugs as big as your head and... ice cream loving Canadians? Well, I guess it can't all be scary, eh?
Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millennium Girl is a remake of the first Etrian Odyssey and then some. The biggest addition is a whole new Story mode, wherein instead of a faceless adventurer seeking fame and fortune in the Yggdrasil Labyrinth, you're put in the shoes of a young member of the Highlander clan. Upon a chance meeting in the enigmatic ruins of Gladsheim, you discover a young woman, Frederica, who seems to have been hibernating for the past 1,000 years. Frederica's memory is more than a little fuzzy though and it's up to you to remind her of her purpose. Not without the help of a straight-laced Medic, an ADD stricken Alchemist and a Protector who hails from the mysterious lands of Ontario, of course.
Another welcome edition are two new classes: the first being the spear-wielding Highlander who uses ferocious offensive skills to deal massive damage, regardless of the consequences. The other is the firearm-toting Gunner class, whose well rounded skills balance offensive and defensive tactics while shooting from the back line. These two classes replace the first game's "secret" classes, the Ronin and Hexer, which are now available from the start in Classic mode. In Story mode the plot dictates the classes available for your party. But don't fret, as there are still opportunities to customize your party.
Equipable Grimoire Stones give characters access to certain skills unique to other classes and even abilities only previously usable by monsters. During battle, characters equipped with Grimoire Stones have a chance to enter what they call Grimoire Chance. Upon defeating an enemy, there's a chance that a Grimoire Stone divides and captures the essence of the battle. This might mean a Medic's Cure spell could be etched onto a brand new Grimoire Stone as well as a skill the monster used, such as the Mandragora's Corrosive Aura. These Grimoire Stones can be further synthesized, taking the best parts of each and merging them into a single stone.
While this new stuff is great and all, let's spend some time on the stuff that hasn't seen massive changes, and yet has undergone a bit of tweaking where needed. Etria is almost exactly as you remember it, the Rooster Inn and Golden Deer Pub are still there to cater to the young adventurers that come to challenge Yggdrasil, and our much-loved cockney shopkeeper Shilieka is still waiting in the wings, ready to turn those frog eyeballs into a dazzling sword (somehow). The Yggdrasil Labyrinth itself is also much as you remember it, although special events and treasure chests have been rebalanced. Probably the single biggest change to the labyrinth is the introduction of new FOE's. The original game's FOE's had pretty much two modes: The I-Don't-Even-Know-You-Are-There mode and the It-Is-My-Life's-Mission-To-Kill-You mode. Millennium Girl spices things up a bit by introducing FOE's with new kinds of movement patterns and battle strategies. Another small change which cuts out a lot of tedium is the ability to Floor Jump. This allows you to jump to stairways on certain floors just by clicking them on the map! Hold on to those Ariadne Thread's though; there's a catch. This option only becomes available when the map is carefully drawn to a certain degree.
With all these new additions you could be forgiven for thinking that the game's difficulty diminishes somewhat, and to some extent that's true. The more options available to you, the more different ways a problem can be tackled. Luckily for those thrill-seekers among us, Etrian Odyssey Untold offers a delightfully devilish Hard mode, which is sure to bring back those memories of your entire party dying to a Tree Rat ambush. For those less adventurous, scholarly-types, the Picnic mode will be more your cup of tea, as you can sit back, relax and enjoy the story.
Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millennium Girl could easily be the most accessible game in the Etrian Odyssey series, allowing newcomers the chance to enjoy the first game with the polish of later titles, while also bringing back fans of the series who want to relive the magic all over again, with fancy new tools. There's something for everyone in Millennium Girl and the time I've spent with the game so far has been a treat. It's slated to come out on October 1st in North America, both retail and eShop, so look for my full review closer to that time!