Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight is Atlus’ and Lancarse’s second attempt at giving the Etrian Odyssey games a proper story. This appeals to me, so let’s see if it succeeded in making me fall in love!
Not so much. I really enjoyed Etrian Mystery Dungeon, a completely different take on the series, but like with the first Untold game, I felt that many of the games nuances get in the way of the solid gameplay. The Fafnir Knight gives you the choice to play the game in a more traditional way by essentially creating your own story, or following the story of the titular character the Fafnir Knight. In the new story, You’re joined by old friend Flavio and princess Arianna as you’re asked to search dungeons and to help Arianna perform a ritual which only takes place once per century. The Fafnir Knight begins to experience visions which shows that he has greater untapped power, and so you follow these plot points throughout the majority of the game.
This game does a better job than the first at telling a story and creating more fleshed-out characters, but I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed it by any means. If anything, Lancarse couldn’t help but get in its own way with overly drawn-out and unnatural dialogue, and I found myself being bored just because it felt as if nobody was having fun when translating this game which, assuming I know Atlus well, is very true to the original Japanese version of the game. I’d be happy to not play an Etrian Odyssey game again if it means I can avoid dialogue that goes on for ages and say very little, whilst being wholly uninteresting and rarely entertaining. My biggest problem with the dialogue isn’t that it goes into deep detail – because this is fine – it’s that this is a game and instead of using its beautiful assets to show these things to me, it’s instead giving me a blank screen as it rambles on time and time again. It’s way too much text to say so very little.
I’ve always been at odds with Etrian Odyssey’s gameplay mechanics – I want to like them and there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but they make the game feel like a chore to play. The series has always been known for its challenging gameplay, although I feel that Atlus has made it more accessible in easy mode, but I find that it encourages grinding rather than genuine difficulty – sure, I don’t mind a good grind but it’s not what I’m looking for here. Battles are traditionally turn-based with your attacks, skills, items, etc, and it’s a straightforward affair that most JRPG fans will come to grips with quite quickly, and I personally have little issue with the combat itself and, when I was left to it without being interrupting frequently, I found myself enjoying the battles and wondering what it would be like had the dialogue been better handled.
One cool addition is to use Fafnir’s hidden power which sees him turn into a demonic-like form of himself which grants him more HP and strength, but you’ll revert back to human after three turns. The FOEs are pretty cool too and you’ll be advised to avoid them as they walk a predetermined path on the map, as they’re far stronger than many enemies (and even many bosses) that you’ll fight in the game. It’s far from a game-changer but at least Atlus are breathing new life into a remake of an almost decade old game.
It looks like Atlus has learned from Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth as they’ve allowed you to pick from three different options when drawing in the maps which are do it all yourself, only draw in the walls and doors, etc, or have the walls and floors drawn in for you so you only have to jot down doors and special areas. I prefer this option as I don’t find much enjoyment from drawing in walls and having the flow of gameplay interrupted, and it’s made the experience as a whole far more enjoyable. At least now it’s only the dialogue that I feel is hampering the flow of the game!
Visually, Etrian Odyssey is a very nice looking game. The 2D portraits, the 3D enemies, the constantly wandering around FOEs (well, unless you slay them), all come together to create a breathing world which I wish I could appreciate more. The dungeon design is fine past the repetitiveness of them but overall it’s a game that’s easy on the eyes and cannot easily be faulted. Maybe you’ll be enticed to buy an Etrian Odyssey game based on the visuals alone, but that would be a mistake considering how hit or miss the games can be.
I have little issue with the audio too, with my only issue being the selective English voice-over. Most of the dialogue isn’t mentioned, but some sentences are despite that they seem to have little importance – it’s like they picked out lines out of a hat as to which ones will be voiced. Fortunately, the little voice-acting that is there is decent and it’s a shame that there wasn’t much of it. The OST is fine but it’s not something I’d call memorable but it does the job regardless. The OST may not blow you away but it’s harmless and fits the game.
If you’re a fan of the series then sure, there’s a good chance that you’re going to like Etrian Odyssey Untold 2, but I can’t recommend it otherwise. It’s neither a bad or good starting point for newcomers (you might want to look at Untold 1) and the issues I have with the abundant dialogue run deeper than I could have imagined. If someone asked me to recommend them a fun game, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 would not immediately come to mind as it can be relatively frustrating as it’s constantly tripping over its own feet, but it’s far from the worst game available. This game is solely for fans, and it won’t do much to garner new ones, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.
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