Gamespot Score: 8.0 (Great)

My Score: 8.3

(+) Pros: - Makes exploring the first Yggdrasil Labyrinth fresh again, - New story mode brings us a cast of likable companions with colorful personalities, as well as a decent story, - Classic mode enhances the old EO formula from the original, - Brilliant character builds and team possibilities as usual, this time further enhanced by the Grimoire system,  - New stratum exclusive to the game is a wonderful addition to the already great ones in the original game, - Many other neat little additions that spice up the experience.

(-) Cons: - Grimoires are random as shit, - One save file.

Gameplay Time: 50 Hours +

Here we are again with one of my favorite franchises from the brilliant minds at Atlus, "Etrian Odyssey". Having played every game in the series up to date, I refuse to stop at the very idea of a remake and instantly jumped in on the very opportunity I got my hands on the game. Of course, as with every game in the series before it, I enjoyed "Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl" to no end, and it was only  a matter of time before my life was consumed by it. The dungeon crawling is as addictive as ever, drawing your own maps was still satisfying, discovering an old labyrinth with brand new characters that actually HAVE personalities was fun, and most of all, they tweaked the classes here and there, making experimenting for new builds and team combinations a freaking blast. Being a remake, there are a lot of small neat additions here and there, while the main marketed feature was a full blown story mode with fully voiced characters and proper scenarios, there's a lot more to "EOU" than you'd think, making it a refreshing, engrossing experience on its own.

You play as a nameless Highlander, a clan of ancient warriors pledged to keeping peace to the world and fighting for their unique sense of justice. By the order of your clan head, you are to head to Etria as the representatives of the Highlanders to answer their call for help regarding a new ruin that appeared out of nowhere. Once there, you report to Radha Hall and are given a task to prove yourself with. Once you do so, you are sent to the new labyrinth that's been causing all the trouble: Gladsheim. After some exploration, you come across a statis capsule that houses a young human girl dressed in weird clothing. She activates and awakens from her cold sleep, but a trio of adventurers nearby are attacked by a camel monster. Together with the girl who just awoke, the 5 of you take down the monster. The 3 then introduce themselves as adventurers from a foreign land, Lagard, they are here to study Gladsheim. The girl who awakens has amnesia, and wishes to follow you lot in hopes to regain her memories. Thus the 5 of you form a group dedicated to exploring this new, unknown ruin.

Shopping for weapons...neat.

If you haven't played "Etrian Odyssey" before, then this is a great place to start. Not only is this the first "EO" game so many years ago that's been refined to be better than ever, it also has a new story mode attached to it to appeal more to the general JRPG audience. Whether or not you've played the first game before, this is an amazing pickup. While mostly similar, the Yggdrasil ruins of Etria have received minor tweaks here and there to be slightly more interesting for veteran explorers. Some FOE placements have been adjusted, some floors have been slightly remapped, and of course, improved visuals are a welcome addition. For new explorers, this is even better, the very first Yggdrasil labyrinth proves to be one of the most challenging and interesting ones in the entire franchise, this is a wonderful opportunity to jump right in.

The Yggdrasil Labyrinth is fun and all, but let's talk about the main reason why people even want to give this remake a second look: the story mode. In every vanilla "EO" game, you simply create your team of characters and off you go, there isn't much "characterization" or "personality" in your characters beyond the portraits which you choose for them. Its more about going around and completing missions or quests where you get dialogue from the NPCs that you decide to help, your characters are always silent protagonists. For once, the Story Mode in "EOU" gives us a full team of fleshed out characters plus a single, silent protagonist which makes choices in certain story segments, "Persona style". These guys make comments while exploring the labyrinth, they groan when attacking, they cry in pain when hit, just like how any party member in a story driven RPG would. Its definitely a nice touch, especially since we get so many extra cut scenes with them around, it makes the journey a lot more entertaining since we actually have companions this time around. And these guys are likable, I can easily say that I grew attached to them throughout the entire journey...they're cool people that manage not to hit too many cliche JRPG character troupes.

You crab f**k!

The story as well...its actually decent enough. Other than the main heroine, there isn't much significant character development for the other guys throughout the course of the plot, but the game does do a good enough job for us to like them. Certain bits and pieces of the story get revealed the deeper you head into both the labyrinth and Gladsheim, things are intriguing enough to keep us playing, in my opinion. If you play the story mode, you're in for a different kind of "EO" experience. However, if you choose the classic mode, the mode that persists from the original, there are some changes as well. Admittedly, even though its mostly the same as before, voiceovers for NPCs, 3DS specific features like the guild house, grimoires, and a slightly changed labyrinth make for a fairly refreshing experience through a familiar journey.

Being a first person dungeon crawler/RPG, the game plan is simple and is the same as the previous "EO" games. You traverse a massive 30 level labyrinth, each level with its own unique layout, map out that level while battling monsters, doing quests, gathering resources and avoiding FOEs, then locate the stairs and move on to the next level. Its a fairly straightforward concept that's incredibly fun and in depth, the amount of things you can do in each level is massive. After going through some floors you are greeted with a boss of the stratum, in which beating will have you move on to the next stratum, which has its own themes. In the story mode you are immediately given 5 characters with fixed classes that can be changed at a later time, for the classic mode, you create a team of your own 5 guys. As usual, each class has their own skill tree and you can build them differently, plus, creating your own combination of classes with their own specific builds is pretty fun and satisfying.

The poison, cure the poison, Simon.

While that by itself is fun, "EOU" introduces a brand new grimoire system. This pretty much allows your characters to have skills that are exclusive to enemies and other classes. In "EOU" there's something called a grimoire chance, which occurs during battle and gives your character a chance to create a grimoire stone. This stone can inherit skills to it based on the character's action AND the action of the monster he/she is facing. Upon generating the stone, it may contain skills of the character who made it, it may contain skills of monsters, or both. Either way, this stone can be equipped by another character and he/she can use the skills in that stone. This is, strictly speaking from an experimental standpoint, pretty damn cool, as you open up even more opportunities for party building and team combinations. Imagine an Analysis/Dilution, spear assisting Highlander...that dude is going to do some nasty, nasty damage.

Another new addition to the game, something that I mentioned earlier, is the introduction of the new labyrinth, Gladsheim. This is as good as another brand new stratum that you'll be exploring throughout the game's story. You won't be able to go through the whole thing from the get-go though, part of Gladsheim will be unlocked as you finish the main stratums in the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. Its a fun new stratum that's as good as the other ones in the game, though you'll take awhile before you can see it all.

Death, death right in front of you.

In addition to all that, "EOU" gives us even more to play with. There's now a guild mansion that you can go back to in town, which is attended to by an actual maid, a housekeeper. Its here you can do all your streetpass sharing with friends and mess around with your grimoire stones. You can further enhance the possibilities of your characters by fusing and creating new grimoire stones with even more skill combinations. As for the maid, Rosa, she gives you power ups as the keeper of the mansion, and as you proceed throughout the game you get even more house keepers which can give you different kinds of power-ups before you leave for a labyrinth expedition.

Rosa...whatever will we do without you.

As for the cons of the game, I only have 2 major complaints. Grimoires, while fun and interesting (they bring a whole lot of experimentation to the game), are incredibly random and sometimes frustrating to hunt for. Especially during the later stages of the game, where the game is incredibly hard on its default difficulty (expert, of course), GOOD grimoires are pretty much mandatory. The grimoire skill selection process is so random that its SO HARD to get high leveled skills. Finally, with 2 modes to the game, Story and Classic, having only ONE save file is almost a crime and outright ridiculous. I don't want to have to delete my story mode save file to play the game again in classic mode. I understand it if its a vanilla EO game with only a single, classic mode, but here? Come on Atlus.

All in all I'd call "EOU" a successful remake of the original "EO" game. With "EO2" sitting on my desk ready to be played, I cannot wait to see what else Atlus has to offer in terms of these remakes. Also, with "EO5" on the horizon, I'm so glad to see that the franchise is still doing well enough to garner this many games. "EO" is definitely one of my favorite dungeon crawling franchises, and its nice to see it still grow.

Happy Gaming!