Etrian Odyssey has a following that has grown more with every entry. Reminiscent of an old-school dungeon crawler, right down to mapping your way through dungeons, the franchise has earned a reputation for being unforgiving and forcing you to patiently grind your way to victory. Etrian Odyssey IV shook things up, though, by adding casual mode, which made it so you don't lose all your progress upon death. Lowering the bar slightly let more players experience Etrian Odyssey and Atlus took notice. Now it's bringing over, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, a new take on the first game with many new additions. Today I saw it in action.

Etrian Odyssey IV's casual mode is back for Millennium Girl and dungeons have been redesigned. But the most stark change to the first time is a brand new story mode with an overreaching plot. The series has always been criticized for its paper thin narrative and characters, but with a fixed party, there's more opportunity to develop a complete story. Untold has fully animated cutscenes and a brief glimpse of one in action shows characters investigating a relic and finding a pod. It opens, revealing a mysterious girl, who has apparently been asleep for 1,000 years. The scene looks like it came straight out of an anime. A part of me smiles because this is what I've been waiting for from the series; something to make me have more of connection to the game with characters and story to keep me coming back beyond just the challenge.  

While some features, like overworlds and airships, are absent in Millennium Girl, others have been added, like fast travel to different levels of dungeons. Previously, you had to trek through previously explored floors of dungeons if you left to heal. With vicious enemies roaming, it made exploring and staying alive difficult and made the repetition of the grind hit hard. Additionally, this time around you have a mansion for your guild headquarters along with a guildkeeper. If you complete quests for her, she can give you different boosts to help ease your journey. And if she's not doing a good job at giving you the goods, you can fire her and try out a new one.

Combat is basically the same, except in story mode, your party's classes are fixed (classic mode retains party creation). But don't expect a lack of customization over your combatants. Grimoire stones can be equipped on characters, providing skills and the ability for characters to use different weapons, For instance, you can equip a stone to give your healer the ability to also attack with a bow and arrow. These stones can always be synthesized, but you need to fuse three stones together to get a new, stronger one. This is where you'll have to decide if risking three precious stones is worth the reward for one stronger stone. 

So far, I'm impressed with what I saw of Millennium Girl. I appreciate that the developers are addressing complaints that have peppered other entries, like the minimalistic story and absence of fast travel. I'm ready to step back in to a game that tests my willpower and mind. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is due out this fall.