Every time we see the release of a new Etrian Odyssey title, something that seems like an annual occasion at this point, I question whether yet another addition to the franchise is truly necessary. After all, the games share incredibly similar gameplay mechanics, and even bring back a variety of enemies from iteration to iteration. Is there really all that much added from game to game to warrant yet another purchase in the Etrian Odyssey franchise?
The short answer? Absolutely! Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight is the iteration of EO that is closest to being perfect. The genre “old-school dungeon crawling RPG” is in name only, as this game incorporates a vast amount of “new-school” design that makes it absolutely worth picking up.
For the uninitiated, Etrian Odyssey is a franchise where players must work their way through giant labyrinths of dungeons, charting their progress on the bottom touch-screen while they explore. Using the stylus, players can chart the floor layout, marking down traps, secret areas, and even treasure chests. This feature sets Etrian Odyssey from other dungeon-crawlers, as it brings back old-school dungeon design where players must chart their own progress, almost like with pen and paper, in order to find success. The Fafnir Knight does introduce a new option for players that may not be as used to charting their own path, though. Newer players have the option to turn on automatic map-making, which relieves the player of the responsibility of charting their own path. Options are always positive additions to a title, regardless of what they are.
The Fafnir Knight also includes some other options that greatly heightened my dungeon-crawling experience. Although the previous Etrian Odyssey Untold game did feature the ability to speed up battle animations, The Fafnir Knight has even quicker animation, auto-battle, and walking speeds (if selected, of course). This option to quicken gameplay is an incredibly welcome addition. With previous Etrian Odyssey titles taking 70+ hours to beat, it was really nice that I had the option to shorten my playtime (I beat the game in a little more than 30 hours).
There is also a “Picnic” difficulty for those that truly want to stroll through these otherwise grueling dungeons. Although previous EO titles have included a Picnic difficulty before, this difficulty felt particularly balanced. Sure, it was incredibly, incredibly easy to play through on this lowest difficulty; however, a younger gamer could still enjoy Etrian Odyssey on this lowest difficulty, even if it may leave more veteran players somewhat unfulfilled. There are also harder difficulties for the players that want them, of course.
Grimoires, originally introduced in the first Etrian Odyssey Untold, make a return in The Fafnir Knight. The stones, which are obtained randomly while exploring, allow characters to learn abilities and wield weapons that they otherwise could not necessarily use. In the previous title, these stones were rather rare, and players would put a value on each one obtained. In Fafnir Knight, however, it seemed like it was raining Grimoire stones. By the end of the game, I had hundreds upon hundreds of them, and they seemed to all but lose their value. I felt that this was a huge design flaw, as one of the largest additions to the EO franchise lost its value completely in Fafnir Knight.
Outside of dungeons, players can engage in a breadth of side content. There are a robust number of side-quests to complete, and even a whole new area for players to engage in. The Cafe, which becomes available to the player early in the game, allows players to create and discover various food dishes from ingredients found within dungeons. Each dish gives the player a different ability, such as raised health or poison resistance. As a result, it strongly behooves players to prepare and discover various dishes throughout their journey.
The cafe also functions as an excellent revenue opportunity. After discovering dishes, players can use their excess ingredients to sell to the town’s population. The revenue from these sales can be used to further develop the town’s facilities and population, which leads to an even larger number of marketing opportunities. This side-game was an incredibly engaging activity to partake in, and was an excellent respite in between dungeon-crawling adventures.
Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold also features a newly arranged soundtrack and story. Although the older arrangement of music is still available, the new acoustic and electronic soundtrack is gorgeous to listen to while exploring, and invigorating to listen to while in battle. The story, which can drag on at times due to a large amount of dialogue, keeps the plot moving at a steady pace and players engaged in reaching the conclusion of the game.
Overall, Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight is everything I could ask for from a new EO title. The game features gameplay options that could truly fit any sort of gameplay style. Moreover, the mission and side-content depth means that playing through the game could take anywhere from 30 to even 100 hours, a truly versatile figure for such an expansive dungeon-crawling RPG experience. For those that have played Etrian Odyssey games before, and those that have yet to experience a game in the franchise, Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight is absolutely worth picking up!