The Etrian Odyssey series has been known among the RPG community as being a challenging sort of Japanese role-playing franchise. Despite the cute anime characters, what lies beneath is a mixture of tactics and challenging encounters on every space of your map. The Fafnir Knight once again thrusts players into the land of Lagaard with a great new emphasis on the storytelling added into the Untold series. Is Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight an epic worth retelling, or should this legend be better off unspoken?
New to the Untold remakes of previous Etrian Odyssey titles is the addition of a Story Mode. This new campaign puts players into the role of the titular Fafnir Knight (similar to how the first Untold let players fight alongside the Millennium Girl, so to speak). This brawny character is a strong frontline bruiser with a mixture of blade attacks that either deal elemental damage or can bind the enemy for a short number of turns.
What makes the Fafnir Knight most formidable is the usage of Force skills, his in particular being the ability to Transform mid-combat. Force abilities are used once the character receives or deals enough damage, or simply by stalling for time and letting turns pass in battle. Each character in your corps has a unique Force ability that can easy turn the tide of battle with a bit of strategic implementation. The Fafnir Knight, for example, can transform into a demi-beast and inflict a significant increase in damage with even his most basic of skills. His elemental abilities that would only strike once instead can strike ten times across all enemies in battle, incredibly handy if they all share a common elemental weakness.
A new restaurant serves as the home base for utilizing grimoire stones found in dungeons (these unlock new skills or can provide additional levels to the skills your characters have already invested points into) but also provide an additional source of income. By using parts from defeated monsters or harvested goods from the dungeon, players can create new dishes that not only can give the party a significant buff while exploring Ginnungagap but can also be sold to the town’s residents for a nice chunk of change. The majority of the party’s income will come from the various restaurant services, so it’s worth checking out what Regina can help you out with after a successful trip into the forest.
Simply hitting the attack command over and over hoping that the enemies will drop like flies is an easy way to get yourself killed in the Etrian Odyssey series. Combat has a large emphasis on utilizing your team members’ individual strengths and abilities to chain them together in unique ways.
A Sovereign, for example, could use their skill Link Order which marks a target and if said target takes elemental damage, the Sovereign will follow up with an attack on the same target (or every enemy with the upgraded skill). Chaining that from a spell user or the Fafnir Knight’s elemental blades is a simple way to exploit an enemy’s elemental affinity in your favor. The same could be said of the War Magus, where much of their War Edge abilities have a requirement where the target needs to be suffering from an ailment in order to trigger additional damage or status debuffs (though their Force skill temporarily alleviates said requirement).
The joy of the Etrian Odyssey games is the sense of exploration and exploration. If you want to play the game in a particular fashion, the game will gladly stop holding your hand and let you venture into the world to explore at your own pace. Map making has always been a staple of the series and the option to chart your own path always exists, though there is an Auto-Map functionality that charts much of the beaten road for you (you’ll still have to map out doors, gathering spots, et cetera). The in-game tutorials and dialogue hints at ways to combine your skills in combat or the occasional tactic for a big FOE, but the game never explicitly goes out of its way to spoil the surprise and give you exact details on how the world works. There’s never just one way to approach the battle and I praise Etrian Odyssey for how open-ended and freeform the combat can be.
Gridder purists can forego the Story Mode of Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 and jump straight into the Classic Mode, much like its predecessor. Thirteen classes are available to form your five-man squad (The Millenium Girl‘s Highlander class is also available as free DLC for the first week of release). Hexers are still as brutal as in the original game and when paired with a Troubadour or War Magus can break the game’s balance in incredible ways.
Etrian Odyssey Untold 2‘s difficulty is both its greatest strength and perhaps its only weakness. The series has been known for its punishing difficulty, not just in the final stratums but even up front when first starting the adventure. Multiple difficulty levels help to swing the balance towards a player’s personal play-style but even on Picnic difficulty, there’s still an enjoyable challenge to be had. Despite the cute and colorful motif of the characters and world, this one still remains one of the trickier RPG series to hop in and appreciate.
One way to make the challenge a little bit more manageable is with the usage of guild cards from fellow players. If you’re in need of a particular grimoire stone, these adventurer cards can perhaps give you that extra boost to your healing skills or another high-damaging skill that a particular FOE might be powerless to stop. This is where the game’s sole Streetpass functionality exists but QR codes like the one above can be found to expand the pool and get you what you’re looking for. These other grimoire stones aren’t free, however; a trade must be done by expending your own grimoire stones and trading up either through an equal exchange or trading in enough low ranking ones to balance out the trade.
As a whole, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight is the best entry of Lagaard released thus far. While the game’s difficulty is still high enough to shy some potential players away, the cute anime motif might be enough to catch the eyes of RPG enthusiasts that haven’t had their chance to delve into these dungeons. And yes, the Hexer will still make the game mindlessly easy if you can work him just right.
[Editor’s Note: Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight was reviewed on the New Nintendo 3DS XL. Review code was provided to us by the publisher.]Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight Review,