Since Atelier Rorona for the Playstation 3 I can safely say I have became a fan of the Atelier series. Even though I have yet to play previous games I played and had a great time all the games that followed it, as it is here with Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk.
If you are familiar with these past atelier games this one follows the tradition and doesn’t have much significant changes but some subtle ones that may make you like it more or a little less.For those not familiar with this series I will give a brief explanation.
You play as a young alchemist, exploring the world, fighting monsters and gathering materials which later you can use to synthesize many items, be them weapons, armor, healing items and even more. While doing so you meet a lot of fun and lighthearted different characters, having a huge amount of events and conversations, some being quite funny and most of them enjoyable.
The story of the game, and these last games in the series don’t have that usual “let’s save the world” which is common in JRPGs, so in essence this is a a nice, slow paced game and I might add a relaxing one at that. I personally love that aspect of it as you’re not in a hurry you have your time to explore and go about what you want to do as you see fit, well kinda of.
That is because the game has a time limit to be finished. As the story unfolds you realize you only have a certain amount of years to beat the game or you will end up getting a bad ending, so you cannot wonder around aimlessly too much. Plus there are characters specific endings you can pursue which are based on the events you manage to see with them but some are pretty tricky to obtain.
So far my description of Atelier Ayesha could be served for any of the previous four games in the series, so what makes this one special you might ask?
Honestly not much but certainly some things were added or changed. For starter the battle system had a great upgrade in my opinion. Now you aren’t just fighting in turns, which is perfectly fine by me, but there is positioning of the characters to take into consideration. You can hit enemies in the back for extra damage and avoid some area of effect attacks by not letting your party too close together, with this adding a nice strategy even if overall the game is not too hard.
Some changes were done to the alchemy system. I won’t go too much into details as I honestly could not grasp them fully. I for one think the changes are welcome but I was just a bit sad because in Atelier Meruru (the third game of the series for the Playstation 3) when I could finally use the alchemy to the fullest I had to get used to it all over again.
Visually the game got a great upgrade from its predecessors so it is a joy to watch. Unfortunately the conversations with the beautiful still images are gone. I liked a lot especially because even though the graphics are better the characters don’t have much life to them and the Kishida Mel illustrations were just simply gorgeous to look at.
The music is still very good. My favorite of the atelier games so far would be Atelier Meruru’s soundtrack but I would say this one can be number two. The opening is lovely and I always felt like watching it over and over.
My few complains would be the exclusion of the Japanese audio track, which is present in all three previous games. Weather one would uses it or not, it’s up to them but I certainly like to have the option. Thankfully TecmoKoei, the new owner of the developer Gust has made emendments stating this would not happen again and they fulfilled their promises when they released Atelier Totori Plus and Atelier Meruru Plus for the Playstation Vita, I would say it’s safe to assume the following game Atelier Escha & Logy (soon to be released this year) will not have this issue.
My other complain, this one a much smaller one is that if you happen to finished the game too early you may find yourself discouraged to keep playing as there is no real goal to achieve until the deadline even though you can keep playing. However if you plan on a second playthrough right away this may be a good thing as there as a New Game+ option and this time can be used to craft yourself better gear, so this small complain is mostly personal.
Overall I greatly enjoyed this game. It has its ups and downs but it’s mostly good with fun characters. If you are a fan of JRPGs I think it’s a safe bet you will enjoy this game or any of the previous ones for the Playstation 3.
+ New Game+
+ Crafting items is always fun
– No dual audio (unlike the previous games)
– You can get easily sidetracked and lose your focus
A small tip, if you happen to be interested in picking up one of these games. The first three game, Atelier Rorona, Totori and Meruru are a trilogy so while you can play any of them, playing them in order would be better. Atelier Ayesha is a new saga of this series so it’s a great place to start.
Now, if you are still interested in the previous games, even though I liked it and was the game that got me into the series, Atelier Rorona has a bunch of “problems” that the other ones don’t so you might consider. However the good news is there will be a new version of Atelier Rorona for the Vita with improved graphics, mechanics and events, so that should be the one to get!