Published on January 12th, 2016 | by Christian0
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl – I’m No Expert
As usual I like to keep on the cutting edge of games: rushing to finish them as their sequels are in transit to my home so that I don’t feel the horrible shame of buying full price games and not playing them for months or years until I’m all caught up with the series. One of the things that I really loved about Etrian Odyssey IV was that the game was challenging but not overly reliant on grinding. I felt that the difficulty curve very closely matched the progression that someone with a mild bent for completionism might naturally take through the game, resulting in a remarkable experience that was both harrowing and jaunty. That is a razors edge that few games find themselves balanced on, and I’m sad to report that after 100 hours or so of trying my goddamned hardest to finish Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl on expert difficulty, the game had missed the mark.
If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s basically a JRPG dungeon crawler with turn based combat, deep skill trees across multiple classes, and a map-making mechanic that utilizes the touch screen on the 3DS. See the trailer for details.
I played EOU’s story mode, which is a feature unique to the Etrian Odyssey remake cycle that (I would hope) is going to end with Etrian Odyssey Untold 3. In story mode you are stuck with a set party of classes that may or may not be the best combo in the game. This time around it includes some new classes like the Gunner and Highlander, which are similar to the Sniper and Landsknecht classes in the previous games. The other classes are basically medic, alchemist, and protector that you can pick in classic mode. Overall it’s a pretty well-rounded party but I had a hard time getting a lot of mileage out of the main character (Highlander) and Frederica the Gunner. In addition, many characters have two skills which seem very similar but the game gives no indication as to which gives the better bonus. For example, Raquna the Protector can choose between Shield Mastery which provides a defensive bonus from shields and Defense Up which raises defense, but which one is better? Who the fuck knows!? The game doesn’t clearly surface this info which makes allocating skill points a sometimes frustrating affair.
The basic gameplay loop involves entering a new stratum of the dungeon, exploring and mapping the floors there, overcoming the new obstacles in each stratum, and defeating a boss to advance the story and reach the next stratum. This is all spectacular up until the 5th and final stratum on expert difficulty. It’s tough, but fair, and usually you can advance without grinding too much. I really enjoyed the story, characters, graphics, enemies, dungeon maps – basically everything that you come to expect from Etrian Odyssey. I thought it was fucking great. My love affair came to a grinding halt in the final dungeon when suddenly I found my party getting wiped out by random encounters on the first turn of combat. Don’t get me wrong, I like a hard game, but there’s a difference between the finely tuned challenge of strata 1-4 and the horse shit that’s going on in the 5th stratum.
I was determined to soldier on through this bullshit until I reached the games penultimate boss, who just decimated my team regardless of what approach I took. Again and again I tried, but to no avail. Eventually I went through the hassle of reallocating skill points for my team (at the cost of 2 levels per character) in order to optimize for this particular fight and still nothing was working. Finally, admitting defeat, I turned the difficulty down a notch and proceeded to stomp the final bosses of the game without much trouble at all.
In summation: I played this game for over 100 hours and only really hated the last 10 or so. Take that for what it is worth.