Daily Archives: December 26, 2017

First Impression: Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) ~ A Coocking Guild?

EO2U.jpg

Wiki entry

This year I went on various trips. One day, I went to Brugge. When I was walking in the shopping streets, I went into a game store and saw this game there for like 10€ second hand. Because I enjoyed Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories, I wanted to know how the sequel was like. I know that I haven’t finished the original, but I have gotten quite far. More Etrian Odyssey in my collection. In any case, I think it’s time that I talk about this game since I have put in quite some hours into it. If I may believe the activity log of my 3DS, I have put in 40 hours into this game. That’s a lot for me. So, why did I put in so many hours? Let me explain. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Side note: This game is a remake of Etrian Odyssey II for the Nintendo DS.

A Cooking Guild? 

EO2UScreen02.jpgSo, this game is a prequel to the first Untold game. You play as the Fafnir Knight, who is nameless since you decide the name for the character. On your journey, you meet up with 4 other adventurers by the name of Flavio, Arianna, Bertrand, and Chloe.

Your main objective is guiding Arianna through Ginnungagap to complete a ritual. You aren’t exactly told what the ritual is and what it means, but the further you get in the story, the more you uncover.

Each character has his or her motives to join you and be in the group. While they all fit a stereotype; the player character is the overpowered character, Arianna is the scatterbrained klutz, Bertrand is the warrior with a past he doesn’t want to reveal… The mixture of all these stereotypes makes for a great party. The writing and personality of the story are really good.

The voice acting is also pretty good. Something that surprised me is that shopkeepers start to have a small conversation with your characters if you want long enough. I actually discovered that while the game was open and I was writing this article. The conversations can be really funny and fit the personalities of the characters as a glove.

The story is keeping me on the edge of my seat. Yet, I do wish there was some log of the things that happened or what you are supposed to do next. Since there were a few times I didn’t play this game for a while and just started exploring randomly.

While you can get a vague idea by looking at the active missions and quests, I feel there should have been a location where you could ask what to do next. Even when you have downtime and you are free to do whatever you want since the next story quest requires your party to be a bit stronger.

In any case, in this game, your Guild Hall is something quite special. You operate from a restaurant. A game mechanic I really adore in this game is that the different items you find in while exploring the labyrinth all contribute to the restaurant.

And this restaurant is extremely important in your game. Regina, the cook of this restaurant, found an old recipe book from an old chef, who passed away. This chef was one of the greatest in the kingdom and Regina wants to recreate as many dishes as she can. Now, the recipe book is written in a cryptic way, so you have to read item descriptions to figure out which ingredient you need to develop the dish.

Besides that, you can let Regina cook a dish to give your party a certain buff before you go inside the labyrinth. This can be extremely helpful to when you are gearing up for an extremely tricky boss fight or when you need a certain boost to defeat some tricky enemies.

But wait, the importance of the restaurant doesn’t stop there. You can also develop the town, which will make the shops sell better items. So, you need to make sure that your restaurant is stocked up so you can create the right dish for the right area. Also, you can invest money in the town…

I think you get the idea. There is a lot of depth when it comes to the restaurant. It’s a very addictive balancing act to know which items you should sell to the stores to be able to buy certain items and which items you need to keep to have the ingredients for the restaurant.

The Fafnir Knight

EO2U-Euro-AnnBesides the great depth you have in the restaurant, the general town provides you with stores and various important locations. You can spend hours managing your party and upgrade it. Looking for the right items and the right builds for your party is extremely important. Be sure that you make your builds carefully and that you stock up on enough items before you go exploring the labyrinth.

Since this game can be quite unforgiving in the labyrinth. Expect when you play on the picnic difficulty. When you play on Picnic difficulty, you don’t get a game over when your party is wiped out. You just get kicked out of the labyrinth. Also, some items won’t deplete so you have a come casual experience with the game.

On standard, you get a pretty challenging game that is more fit for gamers who are into RPG and Dungeon Crawlers. You do get once chance to restart when your party is wiped out.

On expert mode, well, the game gets even more difficult and the game describes this mode as “for the real masters of Etrian Odyssey, or masochists”.

The difficult has barely any influence on the game, apart from you being unable to earn in the picnic difficulty. Also, you can change the difficulty at any time while you are in the town. You can’t change the difficulty while you are exploring in the labyrinth.

etrain fafnir map

The goal of exploring the labyrinth is to get as far into the labyrinth as you can. The further you get into the labyrinth, the more difficult the monsters get. Every 5 floors have a certain theme and on the 5th floor, there is a final boss that tests your abilities. This boss also fits the theme of the area extremely well. So, try to learn from the behavior of the enemies and their weaknesses.

So, this isn’t just your typical dungeon crawler. There is a reason why this game is on the DS. That is because it has two screens and a touchscreen. You see the dungeon itself on the upper screen and you have a map screen at the bottom. The catch is, with the Etrian Odyssey series, that you have to draw the whole map yourself.

You can do this in a lot of ways, but I have my own style. For example, I draw walls where I’m unable to pass. So, if there is a column in the middle of the room, well, I draw walls on that square on the map. I have seen others use another color for those spots.

Anyways, before I go on a whole ramble about how I make the maps in the Etrian Odyssey series, I do have to say that this is the mechanic I love the most in this game. A good map is important to your survival since some strong monsters are running around in the labyrinth and if you draw everything, you can also find escape routes and shortcuts more easily.

These things can help a lot with finishing quests and missions pretty easily. The side quests are a lot of fun to do and you can find them in various buildings in the town. I highly recommend that you do them since they can help you sharpen your skills and find out something you didn’t know about the labyrinth.

Exploring to explore

etrian2fafnir_03I have to admit that sometimes I just started walking around in the labyrinth because I just had so much fun. My goal was just to wander around, fight enemies and check if I found everything on my map.

When you fully explored a floor, you are able to quick travel to that floor if you place a stairway on the map. But, these things get explained while you are playing the game.

The game doesn’t work with random encounters. You are on the “clock” so to say. I’m not talking about the day and night system present in the game, but after a certain amount of steps, you encounter an enemy. But be careful! There are big boss monsters running around in the labyrinth too. When you have an enemy encounter close to such a boss monster and it notices your party, it can enter the fight as an additional enemy to make your current fight became a bit more difficult.

Speaking of fighting, each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. So, make sure that you use that to your advantage. Also, use the points you get from leveling up your character to your advantage. Since you don’t learn new skills by leveling up, you have to distribute points. Be careful how you distribute them since they matter and you can’t undo them easily.

I can talk for a while longer about the gameplay of this game, but I will say this to wrap it up. This game has a lot of depth and has so much to manage that it can become overbearing. Knowing which enemies are weak against what is a challenge and a half to remember. That’s why I’m so thankful that the characters actually give hints before a battle starts.

Because this is such an expansive game, you expect the controls to be flawless. Well, there is something I think could be improved in the drawing controls. It’s something I had a lot of trouble with in previous Etrian Odyssey games as well. That is the fact that removing placed icons is a hassle. It’s very tricky to move icons once they are placed.

Overall, the controls of this game are pretty good. Every button is used to its fullest. The UI is also great to use. There is something I think they can improve when it comes to the UI and that is a search option in the Monstrous Codex and the Item Compendium and make those list sortable. That would have been such a great help.

The visual presentation is a feast for the eyes. When I’m playing this game I sometimes just stop and look around with the circle pad to take in the gorgeous artwork and the detailed environments. The theming of this game is pretty well done. On the jungle floors, you get various patches of patches of grass filled with thorns. On the winter floors, you have a lot of the area that there are icy spots you have to slide and you can’t suddenly take a turn then.

The animations in this game are pretty decent. You can compare the style of animations in this game with a Pokémon game. It’s a similar concept. Most of the animations are present during the battles. I wish that the characters inside the towns were a bit more animated while they speak since now they are extremely pretty 2D characters.

All of this is topped off with an amazing soundtrack, a soundtrack I’m actually interested in buying it. I really enjoy listing to the soundtrack of this game that much. Together with the sound design of this game, I think you have a feast for the ears too. One of my favorite tracks in the game is “Bloody Fight – Betting it All”. It’s such a great track when you are fighting those bosses.

This game is a blast to play. If you are into RPG’s and/or Dungeon Crawlers, it would be a shame if you don’t play any of the Etrian Odyssey games. If you want to enjoy this game and don’t want to be afraid that this game is too difficult, play on the picnic difficulty.

This game can be extremely challenging if you don’t build up your party the right way. If you don’t use your upgrade points wisely, if you give bad items to characters, don’t use boosts or grimoire stones… If you want a challenge, don’t use a guide for this game. Otherwise, I think it’s perfectly fine to use a guide to help in on your quest.

I love the Etrian Odyssey series and I can’t wait to finish this game. I can recommend it to everyone who is looking for a game they can sink hours upon hours into and a game that challenges your skills as a gamer and an RPG/Dungeon Crawler fan.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

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First Impression: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katerielle and the Millonaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) ~ Miss Layton

layton lady katrielle mystery journey.jpgWikipedia page

To be honest, when I first heard about the release of this game, I thought that Level5 was going to port the Android spin-off Layton Brothers to the 3DS. Since it has a similar concept. A team that solves smaller cases as a detective and try to solve crimes. Yet, to my surprise, the story of this game goes about the daughter of the famous professor Layton, named Katrielle. While the game first released on mobile devices, I played the 3DS version. I’m used to be playing Professor Layton games on the 3DS, so why change that if I knew that a 3DS version was coming. Since I haven’t played the mobile version, that means I won’t be talking about it in my first impression here either. So, I think it’s time that I talk about this game, is it a good entry into the Layton franchise or is it a spin-off that should only exist one time? As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s Miss Layton now

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-01.jpgIn this game, you play as Katrielle, Layton’s daughter. She just opened a mystery solving shop in London and she is awaiting her first mysteries to solve. Her motto is “any mystery solved”. Together with her assistant named Ernest, you come across a talking dog. Katrielle gives the talking dog a name, Sherl. Yes, as a reference to Sherlock Holmes. The strange thing is that not everybody can hear Sherl talking. Katrielle’s first mystery is trying to solve why that is. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the first case reveals itself and Katrielle gets distracted by solving that. Not too soon after, Katrielle, Ernest, and Sherl go on different adventures to solve cases.

The writing in this game is very lighthearted and a joy to read. I really enjoy how Katrielle does anything for food, how Ernest is the clumsy romantic and Sherl the dog that knows a lot about how humans live their daily lives. The story can take itself seriously when it needs to, but overall, this is a less serious entry into the series compared to the previous games in the series. I’m currently at the 5th case in the game, so it’s possible that it can change. But, we shall see. The voice acting on the characters is also amazing. I think that the cast did an amazing job voicing these characters and make them come to life. A gold star for that!

I do have one minor complaint about the naming of certain characters in the game. The word puns in some cases made me cringe a bit. They didn’t feel creative, they felt forced in. Like, there was a couple where the lady was called Vic and the male called Tim. There were a bit more names like that and it didn’t click with me. I felt that more day-to-day names like Marc, William, Sara, Marian would be fitted better.

The story is structured in such a way that it more resembles a Saturday morning anime. Each case doesn’t take too long to solve, but each case has a nice start, middle and finale. During the case, you gather clues, that you have to fit in a puzzle. While this puzzle is extremely easy to make, I think it’s a step up from the previous Layton games since it’s more than a button that unlocks in a menu.

I do have one complaint about the story actually. I feel like the focus on the backstory of Sherl is a bit too much pushed to the background in the first cases. For real, the twist the game starts with about Sherl didn’t go anywhere substantial in the first four cases. If it did, I must have missed it.

Layton at its core

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-02While this game has a different main cast, the gameplay of this game is still the usual Layton gameplay at its core. In this game, you solve brain teasers and puzzles to get information from people. There are over 150 puzzles in this game. While you don’t have to solve them all to beat the game, there are some points in the game where you need to solve a certain amount of puzzles in order to progress. In this case, the game will clearly state how many you need to solve.

As I said earlier, this game is all about solving mysteries and finding clues to solve that mystery. Like I said before, the game is pretty lighthearted, so the mysteries aren’t; well how shall I put it? A missing pet or a missing part of a movie, that is the two of the first four cases. Yeah, I think that explains itself. So, you have to explore the London to find clues to what happened and how to solve the case.

While you are exploring, you can go to various locations and each location has various things to do. Exploration is just traveling from screen to screen. Sometimes you will have to ride a bike to another remote location, but that is about it. Also, you can only go to screens you unlocked. What I mean by this is that when for example, a lady on street tells you that your client lives a bit more down the road, the map opens up to that location.

This is how exploration always worked in the Layton games. Yet, you can do a lot on each screen. You can find hidden collectibles or puzzles, hint coins, progress the story or get interesting commentary about the object you tapped on. I really advise you to look at each screen with a lot of attention since all those things can be handy in solving the future cases. Especially the hint coins, if you can collect them, that’s always a great idea.

If you have played Layton games before, most hiding spots of the hint coins won’t be a surprise to you. Otherwise, try to tap on everything and it won’t take long before you will start to understand how this whole system works. So, why are these hint coins so handy? Well, let me tell you. You can get a hint when you are stuck in solving a brain teaser. Believe me, some will get you stumped and make you think. A great advice from me is to have a pen and notebook handy and maybe a calculator too.

While you can take notes and draw on the touchscreen while you solve the puzzle, I always felt that this system didn’t work flawlessly. If you want to input an answer, you have to exit out of your notes. In addition to that, I love writing my thoughts more on paper or on a bigger screen than the 3DS’s screen to solve puzzles.

The puzzles that you can solve in this game will range from math riddles to mazes you will have to solve. If you are stuck, don’t hesitate to think outside of the box. Since a lot of answers will simpler then you think. Something I didn’t like about this game is something that Level5 stopped doing in the previous entry in the Layton series. In the first games in the series, they explained the answer. In this game, they don’t always do that. So, when I didn’t understand why I had to answer in a certain way, I was disappointed to see a simple screen saying “you do it!” and nothing more.

Compared to previous Layton games, this game has also some side quests you can perform. During your exploration, you come across various characters who give you a new puzzle that is saved in Katrielle’s trunk. Like a puzzle where you need to solve a maze with the least amount of steps and finding the perfect meal with a cryptic description. Actually, I wouldn’t call them side quests, I think a better name is a side activity or a side puzzle.

Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of picards. The side puzzles aren’t worth any picards. So, what do these picards do? Well, the more you earn, the more bonus material you unlock after finishing the game. So, try to gain as much picards if you can. Since, if you give a wrong answer to a puzzle, the number of picards you earn from that puzzle drop. Keep that in mind if you want to unlock everything.

Visual eye-candy

lady layton 2.jpgThe visual presentation of this game is just amazing. This game has some amazing artwork and is a real piece of visual eye-candy to look at. While the game doesn’t use 3D that often, or at all, I think I can’t decide which art style I like the best for the game. The overall game is 2D, but the character models are rendered in 3D. While in cutscenes, everything is in 2D. I think the screenshots will explain it better than I can with words.

But, there is one thing that I didn’t like about the presentation and that are the cutscenes. To be honest, most cutscenes are just too short. Some cutscenes aren’t longer than one sneeze and blowing your nose. This is a shame since the cutscenes look so well made. I really wish there were longer cutscenes to enjoy. I feel that they are just an afterthought, while they feel like a nice reward for finding a breakthrough or solving the case.

The music for this game is enjoyable as well. The soundtrack isn’t one where I would listen to when I’m doing other things, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and I have no complaints about that. The music really fits the Layton universe perfectly, if you didn’t know better, you would say that it’s a soundtrack from another Layton game earlier in the series. The sound design also feels right at home. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, when they are used, they are used to give the world a bit more life or the story a bit more punch.

Like previous Layton games, this game also has daily puzzles. But this time, I feel that the reward is better for solving them. As you might know, I’m a game collector and I love seeing artwork from the games I played. So, when you solve a daily puzzle, you will get museum points. If you get 100 museum points, you can unlock artwork from any of the previous titles. This is such a great feature since it pulls on my nostalgic strings so much. To be honest, I spend a lot of time-solving the daily puzzles. I really enjoy solving most of them and I wish that time went a bit faster so I could receive my puzzles a bit faster.

While most of the issues I have with the game are minor, I think this game is still a great game. Some issues I have with the game or some minor, they became a nitpick. For example, I really liked how in previous games, each save slot had a different character from the main cast presenting it. In this game, it’s Katrielle for all three. Yeah, major nitpick right there.

Another minor issue that I have are some parts of the controls. While you can use the “A” button, and strangely enough the arrow buttons, to continue dialogues; you can’t use the psychical buttons for anything else. Besides solving some puzzles. Everything is done using the touchscreen. I really miss some shortcut keys. Like using the circle button to move your looking glass around or the shoulder buttons to open the movement menu or a button to open the trunk like “Y” for example. That would be a great addition.

Then again, there are things in the game I really like. Like how you can decorate the mystery solving office to how you want. Changing the Fengshui if you want. Depending on how many puzzles you solve, you get a ticket to “buy” a new item to change up the decoration of your office.

That isn’t the only thing you can change, there are also outfits for Katrielle you can buy. Some even as DLC for a small fee. While they have only a visual purpose and nothing else, the ones you can buy as DLC have an additional puzzle for you to solve.

About the costumes, there is one minor flaw I have to bring up. You can change Katrielle’s costume at any time you want. Yet, I noticed that Katrielle wears special outfits during other chapters. For example, in one chapter she dresses up in a nice dress since she is going out to see a movie with Ernest. If you exit that case and go to a different case to find hint coins you missed, Katrielle is still wearing that special dress. This is a bit out of context in my eyes and shouldn’t happen. Oh well, only a minor complaint?

Oh yeah, you can go back to previous cases in order to find hint coins and puzzles you missed. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no indication when you missed another collectible in the case. Even an indication on the case brief screen would have been nice. Since, if you skipped over one collectible, have fun looking for it, since the game won’t help you there. On the other hand, I think it’s a great move that you can visit back and solve puzzles you haven’t solved or found and looking for hint coins you missed. The only tip the game gives you there is the screen you missed it on. So, have fun looking for what you missed.

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game. While the game isn’t flawless at all, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here. If you are still deciding if this game is for you, know that it’s a more lighthearted Layton game with the same atmosphere and gameplay but without Layton, Luke and the usual gang. This game has a completely new cast of characters. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and I can’t wait to see where Level5 takes this. I would love to see Katrielle and Layton meet one day.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!