It’s not entirely true to call Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl a remake of the first Etrian Odyssey title that debuted on the Nintendo DS. While it does borrow the setting and labyrinth maps from the original game, there’s a whole host of new content, features, and elements from subsequent series entries that are on display here. And while The Millennium Girl certainly sticks to the core design mechanics of the series, new players will find this just as accessible as Etrian Odyssey IV, with a lot of allowances made to make what used to be a soul-crushingly difficult experience a whole lot easier to manage.
If you’ve played and loved the series up to this point, The Millennium Girl gives you exactly what you’d expect. Making maps of sprawling dungeons with in-game tools that allow you to map out individual squares, landmarks, treasure chests, and secret paths are still in place. From what I’ve been able to tell, the tools to draw out your own map seem to be identical to everything found in Etrian Odyssey IV.
FOE’s are still present as well, larger boss like monsters that roam dungeons on set paths, perking up when they notice an unwary traveler in their midst. Some of these dangerous creatures will give chase if you get too close, and a big concept in avoiding these powerful foes comes from recognizing movement patterns and exploiting them. There are some additions here in The Millennium Girl not present in the original Etrian Odyssey, like the dormant stone boars you’ll encounter in the second floor of the First Stratum. They mark one of the first noticeable changes in the game, outside of the additional Story Mode available at the start.
Story Mode is certainly the biggest addition here. While the more traditional Etrian Odyssey experience is still present with Classic Mode, which allows you to build up a team of adventurers from a number of set classes, Story Mode takes some control out of your hands in favor of a more structured, traditional RPG. You’ll start off the game as a Highlander, essentially a modified Landsknecht class. You’ll be introduced to the hub city of Etria, which serves as your home base throughout either Classic or Story Mode.
There are a lot of changes present in Story Mode, like a set party made up of named characters that continue to flesh out as you make your way through the game. There’s an overarching tale involving the titular Millennium Girl, a young woman awoken from what appears to be cryogenic sleep, with a busted memory and some hazy recollection surrounding a new dungeon filled with mysterious technology. Despite the introduction of a story that takes center stage, I thought it was great that Atlus avoided the typical RPG pratfall of overly long introductions, tutorials and long-winded speeches. While you’ll certainly notice the difference from Classic Mode, the story bits don’t get in the way of the enjoyment derived from simple dungeon crawling. And when the story does pop up, it’s actually pretty well written, and occasionally enhanced with unique animated sequences to drive home significant events.
And hey, if you don’t like the idea of preset character classes and an enhanced story, then Classic Mode will deliver that same old Etrian Odyssey experience for you. Along with that, there’s still the option of tackling the game with the increased difficulty that the series is well known for, but if you’re finding things a bit tough, you can ratchet down the difficulty to the “Picnic” setting, which not only lessens enemy damage but also removes the threat of permanent death for created characters. Of course if you’re a masochist you can move the difficulty up in the opposite direction, but I think most will find that the default level is pretty much just right for the series.
Outside of the enemy, FOE, and item placements, along with the brand new Story Mode, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl doesn’t change much else in comparison to the recently released Etrian Odyssey IV. Monster designs seem very similar, graphics would appear to be based on the same engine, and the map making elements are downright identical. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all Etrian Odyssey IV was quite good. But I’m not sure that I’d care to see more pseudo-remakes than this, and hope that Atlus takes some time off to develop a fifth entry and push the envelope further.
The only real negative I can level at the game is the lack of a multi-slot save system. That’s not particularly new for the series either, but with the option of Classic and Story mode, I at least thought I’d be able to run one concurrent save for both modes. In fact, I lost a fair amount of progress under this assumption, losing a good chunk of playtime in Story Mode when I decided to switch gears to Classic. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly happy, even if the fault of that loss was ultimately mine to bear.
Again, there’s absolutely nothing here that’ll derail your enjoyment of the series if you’ve enjoyed Etrian Odyssey for quite some time. And you’re not likely to find a more perfect jumping on point if you have yet to experience the series. The additional Story Mode is a worthwhile experiment for the series, and shows that while dungeon crawling and map making are still Etrian Odyssey’s biggest strengths, tossing in a central plot and set party of characters doesn’t devalue the overall experience.