Let’s Alchemize some more!
The Atelier series is somewhat huge now with 21 main games in the series which have all been divided into 7 sub-series, on top of this some have received rereleases most notably on the PlayStation consoles. I was most aware of the series in the time when PlayStation 3 was alive with JRPG’s and I saw this series released with a new game released for what did not feel very long at all, with my already existing backlog I avoided these games but I was always attracted to the art style of the covers. My first foray into the series was only last year with Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland which I enjoyed very much and as a hardcore JRPG fan it was clear I was missing out on a great series but real-life restraints mean that getting through the whole series now is next to impossible. Thanks to Koei Tecmo however a triple pack of the Dusk Trilogy which contains 3 games in one package has now been released and I can now delve into a new world of Alchemy, battling monsters and seeing what the fuss is about. This trilogy first made its debut on the PlayStation 3 in 2013,2014 and 2015 with Plus versions releasing on Vita consoles and a rerelease on the PlayStation 4 with it’s DLC.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk
The first part in the Dusk series follows the story of Ayesha, an Alchemist living alone in her workshop and on a journey to rescue her sister Nio who has mysteriously disappeared. Throughout her journey, you are tasked with harvesting items, synthesising them and battling enemies. The workshop is your main base of operations on making new items and as you progress with your trusty cow-pig companion you will come across other labs which you can then use to synthesise. There is a good reason as to why you wouldn’t go back to base every time you were to want to concoct an item. Time progresses in Atelier Ayesha and quite quickly and there is a point in which you need to rescue Nio or the game is over. Fortunately, there is a timer constantly reminding you. Everything takes time so grinding for long periods is the games biggest flaw as it is something which I like to do. Moving from one part of the overhead map to the next can take a few days depending on the distance. Gathering all the items in one area can even eat up a few days on top of battling the enemies there also and if you take a pretty good hit then you will need to rest and resting one night won’t cut it as you may need to sleep for several if you wish to fully recover. Ayesha keeps everything in a diary and by talking to everyone you will gain bonus points which can unlock bonus stats for Ayesha. Now while the game does have turn-based combat it isn’t the primary focus, the heart of the Atelier series is the Alchemy.
Early on you craft basic potions and bombs and experimenting with the crafting process is the main focus in which to make the most of Atelier Ayesha. It’s when more depth comes into play later and mastering the art of Alchemy makes Atelier Ayesha fun. It isn’t a steep learning process, it is one that is simple but fun.
The Combat and exploration in Atelia Ayesha is rather simple and the game is not on a large scale, maps are essentially just points which you can move to back and forth and by doing this you can unlock more as well as find new recipes. Ayesha isn’t the strongest protagonist by any means, she has a staff which is weak although she is the only character able to use items so bombs and poisons are a great tool to use in her favour, an aspect which I really enjoy especially when a lot of games overload you with items that you don’t use but here they are a necessity. Graphically it looks great, even though it is another port of the PlayStation 3 game it still looks to a standard set in JRPG’s released today, the characters are all likeable and there is clearly a lot of fan service here. The voice acting is great also, while not fully voiced they do a fantastic job and some of the biggest JRPG’s in gaming use the same actors so it is good to see for yourself if you recognise them. The music in this game is great and I have gone through the soundtrack using the desk at Ayesha’s lab, I was very happy to scroll to the bottom to find Cosmolagoon, the title track from one of my favourite JRPG’s on the PlayStation 3 Trinity Universe. I was amazed that I could set it as the theme to the workshop (which I did) or any other track in-game if you wanted to. Tracks from other Atelier games are here so if you want to change the music then you can to your heart’s content.
Atelier Escha & Logy: The Alchemist of Dusk Sky
Atelier Escha & Logy also part of the Alchemist Dusk trilogy is the second helping of Atelier and known as The Alchemist of Dusk Sky. It follows the story of Escha and Logy and you have the option to pick either character and while the plot remains the same the ending is different depending on the chosen protagonist. This time around the task is to build an Airship and the game has more of an emphasis on Synthesis, I say Synthesis as you won’t just be making your standard explosives or Potions. You will of course but there is more to it as going beyond and making weapons this time around is more fun than it is in Atelier Ayesha. Beyond the crafting is a well fleshed out story, sure it isn’t boundary-breaking but the lightheartedness is still there much like Atelier Ayesha. There is the option of two playthroughs also thanks to being able to play as two protagonists but it isn’t all that necessary but it is an option if you wish. The time management is more relaxed this time round compared to Ayesha. The maps again are simple and so is combat and much like Ayesha you can defend your teammates from oncoming attacks and link them together by using Support Points.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
The final part of the Atelier Dusk series is known as Alchemists of the Dusk Sea and features protagonist Shallistera and Shallotte. This sees the biggest change in the Dusk trilogy removing the time limit needed to finish and opts for a new system called the Life Task System. These are tasks which need to be done at specific times, on top of this the maps are larger and there is definitely a lot more to harvest now. The game also has a lot more replay value than the previous as there are a lot of unique events depending on who you choose, on top of this they have varying abilities and different ways on how they can obtain items. Combat is more fun this time with it being more of a highlight of the game itself and having a new burst system and unleashing larger than life attacks once the meter is full. As Atelier Shallie: Alchemist of the Dusk Sea has more of an emphasis on everything it is the best one in the trilogy and one that anyone can enjoy. I will say that if time restraints are a big no for you, then you should at least give the previous games a try, the time restraint is quite lenient and you will have a better feeling when playing Atelier Shallie, the time management is all part of the enjoyment, but if this is an issue and you do enjoy the grind then Atelier Shallie is the best of the bunch.
A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by Koei Tecmo