Etrian Odyssey II is not to be confused with Etrian Mystery Dungeon, because for a good while, I thought it was a sequel to that title. I was wrong. Now, something to note is that it’s made by Atlus, and as with their other Etrian titles, they’re very good at recycling images! Etrian Mystery Dungeon, Etrian Odyssey, and even Etrian Odyssey II all have recycled textures, 3D models, and character images, to the point where it doesn’t really feel fresh visually; I feel it has grown stale in that respect. I really wish they’d create more new content, aside from the occasional character.
Now a thing I did like about Etrian Odyssey II is that at the start you not only select your game mode (easy, normal, and hard), but you can also choose to use preset story characters or your own custom party. I chose the latter because I love being the hero of my own story and I also love being able to do things I can’t in real life. So what I’m saying is that I love to imagine myself in fantasy roles.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The game starts out horrifically slow to the point where I lay on the couch almost drooling from boredom. But after you get to Level 10 through hours of grinding, you can actually progress at a steady pace and things get easier. The story even becomes interesting. There are a few unique characters that help to augment the plot; my favorite so far is from the Beowolf guild.
Before I continue, let me say a bit about the guilds in the game. Unlike Etrian Mystery Dungeon, the people in your guild do not level up as you play; they all remain stagnant at Level 1. If you want to level them up, you must either help them one at a time or grind all over again. I find this incredibly obnoxious, tedious, and a total bore.
The game’s combat mechanics use a standard role-playing, turn-based system…much like the previous Etrian Odyssey title (but not like Etrian Mystery Dungeon). Also, if you unlock the mystery dungeon title then the dungeon is no longer a mystery at all. In fact, it’s not even randomly generated; you can explore the entire dungeon. Honestly, this is where the intelligence meter takes a plunge.
You as the player are forming a guild in town with your members; whomever you want really, and from there you’re going to explore the labyrinth to try and discover its secrets regarding Yggdrasil (the tree of life). From the very start of the game, you cannot finish quests until you learn how to properly make maps of your current dungeon floor. Yet this dungeon is right outside the town, and people have been going there for centuries to slay monsters (and cook their meat). But at the same time, they’ve never ventured far enough into the dungeon to make a map of it. This is odd because they’re stated as saying that they know how many floors there are!
So I’m getting really mixed messages regarding the mapping of the dungeon floors. Have they been to Yggdrasil, haven’t they been to Yggdrasil? Did anyone at Atlus think someone like me wouldn’t notice a horribly written plot point such as this?
The only saving grace for me is the voice actors; they’ve done a wonderful job and are truly talented. That, and I’m starting to get emotionally invested in my personal character. But other than that, I’m sorry to say…the game is bad. It’s nice to look at, but they’re recycling assets from every “Etrian” title. The same holds true with the combat system.
The story is full of plot holes, and making the map for the areas you visit is the dumbest thing ever; well that, and how can a forest have five floors with actual guard-like towers connecting them? Someone, please explain this to me. You can also clearly see the sun shining from above through Floor 1 of the forest…and also Floors 2, 3, 4, and 5. Yet the stairs lead up, as though to the next floor!
It’s these inconsistencies that make the game an unforgivable sin. It feels like they made the title and threw it out there just as a quick cash grab. “Hey, people liked our title; let’s toss our assets together and call it a sequel!” I know I’ll probably offend people, but if you buy the game and play the game you’ll realize I’m not wrong.
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