Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight Preview

You'll take your punishment and you'll LIKE it, dammit.

Classic games, including RPGs, have a (well-earned) reputation for kicking a player’s ass. That’s kind of their masochistic appeal, which we’ve started to rediscover in three dimensions over this past generation through games like Demon's Souls. Thankfully, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight isn’t quite “break your spirit” difficult, but it’s definitely designed to steal your lunch money.

Without giving much away, in The Fafnir Knight you’re tasked with leading a young princess through a dangerous dungeon with the intent on performing a necessary ritual done by her people. As a warrior trained by a library—you know, where so many great warriors learn to use weaponry not suitable for children—you’re tasked with leading a young princess through that dungeon. The goal itself might be mysterious, but there's a reason behind the fact that you were chosen. However, if you don’t really care about the specific story, you can create your own guild and explore the dungeon with your own custom team just for the hell of it.

If you’ve played the first Etrian Odyssey Untold (or any other old-school, first-person RPG, or previous Etrian titles) then you might be familiar with navigating dungeons here. Taking one step at a time and mapping out the walls, edges, and anything else you might discover in the depths, you dig deep into multiple locations to fulfill that journey with the traveling princess and other companions. The top screen is dedicated to exploring the world you’re in and for the battles themselves, while the bottom is consistently dedicated to your expanding map.

And if you’ve played those earlier games (or Persona Q), you’ll know the battle system: two rows of characters, some in front and some in back, with the ability to shift during your turn for added strategy. This helps make it more strategic and flexible than the standard battle system, so there’s bound to be more enemies, more depth in the fighting field, and more difficult enemies to fully take advantage of such a system. That layered system, along with the branching skill trees from the previous game, both make a welcome appearance here.

There are two main areas for exploration: the forest and a dungeon named the Ginnungagap. There are multiple levels in each, and after a certain number of levels, the motif of the environment is different, which can lead to differing strategies of on addressing the various enemies unique to each. Reaching a certain level in one will help to unlock a new level in the other, so instead of choosing which environment you would like to explore, you’re required to see the best of both.

As far as whether these different levels, or characters, or gameplay make for an enjoyable experience, we’ll have to wait to see. That said, it’s shaping up so far to look like a solid successor to the original title.

Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight will be released on August 4 of this year, so it’s not too far out. Take a breather and some of that Yggdrasil medicine and you’ll be just fine.