Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

Remakes are nothing new to the roleplaying videogame genre, updated rereleases tradition in franchises like Dragon Quest. Atlus’s Labyrinth of the World Tree pantheon, known as Etrian Odyssey outside Japan, would be among the recipients of remake treatment, its very first entry remade as Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, among the most significant differences from the original being an expanded narrative with preset characters and a Picnic Mode perfect for newcomers to the series. The franchise’s first sequel would receive remake treatment as well, outside Japan titled Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight, which just might be one of the strongest rereleases in the genre’s history.

Like its preceding remake, The Fafnir Knight allows players a choice between Story Mode and Classic Mode, the former providing preset characters with some sort of story behind them and the latter allowing players full customization of their party’s classes, gamers needing to use their imaginations to formulate backstory on their allies. Like other main entries of the franchise, navigation occurs in first-person three-dimensional dungeons, with an indicator turning from blue to red to denote how close the player is to encountering enemies, more powerful antagonists called FOEs visibly present within dungeon corridors.

The battles themselves allow for a traditional structure where the player’s party of five active characters, organizable into front and back rows that have maximum capacities of three allies each, and where characters in the front deal yet take more damage and those in the back take but deal less damage. Players input all commands for their party, and they and the enemy exchange commands in a turn order determined by speed. Ironically, wasting healing on characters that die before recovery takes effect wasn’t too much of a problem for this player, given the main storyline healer’s decent agility, although the possibility of reviving a character only to have him or her die the same round of recovery exists.

Handy for regular encounters is a super-fast autobattle function, although most players will likely want to handpick specific commands, each character having an arsenal consuming TP, for encounters such as those with bosses and FOEs. Allies can use consumable items as well, defend, or attempt to escape, with this particular command offering the player up to five tries to do so, handy since there is the chance the option might not work all the time. Each character also has a Force gauge that gradually fills up and ultimately allows them to execute super-powerful abilities that can really turn the tide in tough battles.

Victory nets all participating characters experience for occasional level-ups, in which case they gain a skill point for investment into diverse ability trees and parts of deceased antagonists the player can sell in the Grand Duchy’s main shop to gain money and unlock items for purchase. The death of all characters in Picnic Mode takes the player back to town with no penalty, although higher difficulty results in a Game Over, an opportunity to save the map created at the time of death, and a trip back to the title screen. Even in Picnic Mode, however, this reviewer never experienced such an event, even against FOEs and the last boss battles, but even so, combat definitely helps the remake more than hurts.

The game interface is just as solid, with the game allowing the player of complete control of creating maps for the dungeons or an automatic function that still necessitates players place icons for doors, shortcuts through walls, and stairs. As in The Millennium Girl, sufficient completion of a floor’s map allows players to zoom instantly to ascending or descending stairs, which very much shaves off superfluous playtime. Other parts of control are just as solid, the remake for one including an in-game clock when saving, not to mention multiple save files, the only real hangup being the inventory limit of sixty items. Even so, interaction definitely shines.

If The Fafnir Knight has a weak spot, it’s definitely its story, given the mild blank-slate nature of the player’s named character and slight hastiness of the ending, although his allies do have some sort of story behind them, and prove a likeable cast. The translation is also well above-average in spite of occasional unnatural battle dialogue, and overall, the story is a decent reason to play the remake.

The rerelease allows players to select modern or classic incarnations of the soundtrack, the former generally being enjoyable, with voice acting present as well, which is largely hit-or-miss but by no means a deterrent, sometimes being helpful, for instance, in discovering the locations of secret passages.

The Fafnir Knight makes sufficient use of the 3DS’s graphical capabilities, with nice three-dimensional effects and animate enemies in battle, even if the player’s party is absent, although the character and monster designs look nice.

Finally, a straightforward playthrough of the remake, even with the additional of an extra dungeon, Ginnungagap, alongside the Yggdrasil Labyrinth, can take less than twenty hours (this reviewer finished in fourteen), a New Game+ and countless sidequests very much enhancing the game’s lasting appeal.

In the end, Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold, is, for the most part, an ideal example of a remake, very much building upon its predecessors’ game mechanics, given its quick and easy gameplay, excellent control, enjoyable narrative, solid soundtrack, and nice 3-D visuals. This reviewer does have some minor nitpicks with regards to the storyline and the voicework, although he would very much recommend the rerelease to those that enjoyed other titles in the series, The Fafnir Knight like The Millennium Girl being another solid diving board into the franchise, with newcomers and masochists alike, given the variable difficulty settings, sure to appreciate it.

The Good:
+Quick and easy gameplay.
+Excellent control.
+Decent plotline.
+Superb soundtrack.
+Nice 3-D visuals.

The Bad:
-Limited inventory.
-Ending might be confusing.
-Voicework is hit-or-miss.

The Bottom Line:
The gold standard of RPG remakes.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: Less than 20 Hours

Overall: 9/10

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