Etrian Odyssey II HD is the kind of sequel that religiously follows the path laid out for it by its predecessor. Anyone familiar with the first game will have no trouble jumping right into this one. The gameplay, structure and major plot points all match the pattern established in the first installment in the series.
The game takes place in a flooded world where survivors shelter in a floating castle safe from the rising tides. You must organize a team of adventurers to explore the rising labyrinth within the Yggdrasil tree to reach High Lagaard and unravel its mysteries in the hopes of preserving the world. On your journey, you have to manually plot the map yourself or risk getting lost forever.
Along with the initial distinction of traveling upwards instead of downwards through the maze, Etrian Odyssey II offers a number of new character classes to play with a host of fun new designs. You still accept your missions from the Grand Duchy in town, as well as side quests from locals that encourage you to explore in new ways.
The labyrinth itself follows a similar progression. It begins with a typical forest design and changes through the different strata to incorporate deserts and snow and eventually a spaceship-like setting with conveyor belts that act as a puzzle to solve to progress.
While the turn-based combat hasn’t changed much between games, there are many new enemies to encounter with different skills you have to account for in your strategy. You’ll also encounter new events within the labyrinth which make your interactions more varied throughout the game. Some heal or harm your team, others cause you to find or lose items. There’s more of a sense of danger with no indication of whether you’ll get a positive or negative experience.
The general narrative is also very similar to the prequel. You encounter tribes that live within the forest who you forge a relationship with. There are other adventurers that may help or hinder your progress. You reveal secrets kept by the Grand Duchy as you go. The climactic end to the game sees you challenge a mighty boss at the peak of the maze that results in a rebirth of the world. The precise details differ greatly between games—sometimes being a direct contrast to the original—but the general path is very familiar if you’ve played the prequel.
Anyone who enjoyed Etrian Odyssey will equally enjoy Etrian Odyssey II. The similarities between the two are reminiscent of an era of games before DLC and patch updates that could have merged the two into a single evolving game. There are enough creative changes to Etrian Odyssey II that show the effort put in between the development of the two games, making it feel like a fresh experience.
The Switch remaster matches the style of Etrian Odyssey HD, with brilliantly designed artwork and a stunning soundtrack. It makes for another well-deserved and well-executed preservation of an iconic game.
Review: Etrian Odyssey II HD (Nintendo Switch)
Etrian Odyssey II HD follows a nearly identical path to its prequel while boasting some features that embellish the fun of the original. It pairs a very similar storyline and gameplay with equally refreshed graphics and music to celebrate its port to the Switch.