Dungeon-crawling never felt this good.
I have been playing Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl for 50+ hours now. And I feel like it’s not going to end anytime soon. This game is just so freaking vast, I feel like I’ve only made a dent in what it has to offer.
The fifth(?) game in the Etrian Odyssey franchise, Millennium Girl is a re-make of the first EO game published by none other than Atlus–the same company responsible for the SMT and Persona series. Now, I have this complicated relationship with Atlus. I like Atlus games a lot mainly for their visuals, specifically character design. But their games are just so. Freaking. Hard. They just break my heart. I played the first Devil Survivor game before and promptly gave up at the 7th effin’ day. How pathetic is that. Even my ultra-gaming high school teacher couldn’t take playing Catherine.
I’m not much of a dungeon-crawling fan but I have always wanted to try EO for the longest time. The game is quite notorious for its extreme difficulty but being the crazy-ass noob that I was, I tried playing the first three games and couldn’t even finish mapping the first floor of the first stratum. Now this was essential since I wouldn’t be able to move on otherwise. Back then, I didn’t know if I was just being a really stupid gamer. So I laid the game to rest.
Come 2013 and they decided to re-make the game. So I downloaded the demo and wasted 6 good hours in it. And I swear, I could hear the angels singing. This is the EO game I could get into. What made this extremely brutal game accessible for me was the fact that they added difficulty levels in Millennium Girl. Don’t get me wrong though, the “easier” mode is still hard. It’s just more manageable for someone who’s relatively new to the series.
The addition of a Story Mode is also something EOU added to its roster. Playing in Story Mode would net you a set party, unlike the usual EO games where you get to mix your own party from a number of job classes. Some EO veterans saw this as a negative but I really liked this feature since I usually suck at making parties.
Well, the set party is kind of essential to the story since said story revolves around your discovery of the gunner Frederica Irving, who has been in cold sleep for a millennium. Hence, the title. Although the story is quite simple, predictable even, it’s enough to get the players going. If you don’t like having a default party, you can always play Classic Mode.
Otherwise, all the EO essentials are still there. It’s main selling point, namely, map-making, is something I found surprisingly addictive. Yes! This is a game where you need to draw your own map. Well, you can always turn on the Auto-Map feature but you’re just taking all the fun away. The FOEs–Formido Oppugnatura Exsequens, Field-On Enemies, or Fucking Overpowered Enemies for the frustrated gamer–are still as effing annoying as ever and will still shut the living daylights out of you any time.
What makes this game particularly thrilling for me is that the sense of accomplishment is authentic. As a band of explorers thrown into the middle of an unchartered Labyrinth, every step is an achievement and you’ll find that the smallest accomplishments make you feel like a fucking champion. Surviving battles. Looking at a well-drawn, ultra-detailed map. Discovering new monsters and new floors. Everything is a trophy. I swear, every time I beat a Stratum boss, I always go “LAKJSLDFJ! YEAAAAAH! IN YO’ FACE, BIIIIIISH! *does a silly victory dance*”. I do this every single time. And when I discover how the next stratum looks like? This pretty much sums up how I look:
I have so many feels for this game, I feel like I can go on forever. The verdict? Simple. It’s a freaking awesome game. A great introduction to the series and quite noob friendly. Although some would recommend Etrian Odyssey IV as a starter, I think going back to the game’s roots gives it the proper respect it deserves.