Are synthesising grenades and explosives your cup of tea? Then the next game in the Atelier series is bound to impress.
Just a month after developer Gust released an English version of Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, along came a new instalment in the long-running, alchemy-focused RPG franchise for Japanese shores. With several hours of Atelier Ayesha: Tasogare no Daichi no Renkinjutsushi ("The Alchemist of Twilight Land") now under our belt, we've been impressed that it retains its breadth of content and experimentation alongside the many objects and weapons that you can craft out of the blue, like in past Atelier titles.
You play as the titular character Ayesha, an alchemist who has lost much of her memory prior to the game's tale. After a series of events that take place in the first hour, she finds out that her sister, Nio, thought to be long gone, is trapped in some unknown dimension. It's up to Ayesha to find the means to bring her back, while also recovering fragments of her memory. Along the way, she comes across boatloads of people willing to help her out, and offer item-crafting requests through the long-lost art of alchemy.
And create you shall. The sole focus of all Atelier titles since Atelier Marie for the PSOne have involved synthesising ingredients into brand-new items for quest fulfilling and combat exploiting. Mixing items into weapons and curatives couldn't be easier; though the process can get deep, depending on how much experimentation you're willing to do. Alchemy requires you to combine two to four ingredients of different properties to create a batch of entirely new items. As long as an ingredient is from the same property, players can mix and match to create upgraded versions of specific items.
For instance, a standard fire potion that explodes upon contact can have its blast radius extended, or its elemental properties enhanced, if you use a higher-quality item within the same family to synthesise with. Finding extra recipes to craft bigger and better goods is just a matter of unlocking them through the game's narrative, or buying books and scrolls from in-game vendors.
No RPG would be complete without a means of resolving conflict, and this game doesn't shy away from fights. Atelier Ayesha's turn-based action introduces a buddy system, whereby party members can take one for the team during an enemy's attack. Conversely, other party members can follow up with a special attack right after a team member pulls off an attack. As long as you have enough meter in the active command gauge, it's possible to end a fight without your opponents taking a single turn.
Positioning your party also matters greatly, as enemies can take more damage when being attacked from behind. You can do this by either using the move option or initiating an action gauge rear attack-support skill between commands. Our battles were littered with encounters with wolves, pixies, giants, and mini-dragons, but the horde was no match for our deft use of the AC team-up attacks and items that we synthesised before questing.
The character design in the atelier series is so good but the scenario is always terrible you can clearly see the lack of attetion in the background and scenario elements.
They don't usually give anime JRPGs imports preview over here at gamespot. A welcome edition indeed.
I love Atelier series but... they should be careful not to burn the franchise. One each 9 months more or less is far too much for a game that can potentially last A LOT of hours...
I've always been fond of the Atelier series. The music is always so charming, especially throughout the Iris series.
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