In the first year and a couple months of the new generation, we have seen countless ports, mostly previous-gen games to the new consoles. Ports can happen to and from any console, and Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dust is a neat example of a port from Playstation 3 to the PS Vita, done so right one does not notice it is a port in the first place.
Atelier Ayesha Plus tells the story of Ayesha, a girl who used to live peacefully in her quiet house preparing medicine and similar items. One day she meets a man while visiting her presumably disappeared sister’s grave, only to have an apparition from the same sister moments before. The man informs her that the secret to discover whatever happened to her sister lies in learning alchemy, and also through a special flower which is plentiful in the location. Hence Ayesha decides to pack everything, literally everything, and leave on an adventure with her trusted cow, Pana. The game revolves around the fact that Ayesha only has three years for her quest to finish, because if not her sister Nio will be lost. This puts some pressure on each decision made in the game since these all consume time. Travelling, gathering items and other aspects of the game take time away from you, so one should always act intelligently and save when not in need. Thankfully, exploring and walking around does not take away time from you so you can feel free to roam about and observe the towns.
The game features a relatively slow pacing, with cutscenes all over the place. These can be quite lengthy at times, but rarely contain nonsense. Gameplay is customary to usual JRPGs, with a lot of exploring and talking to people or locals as well as accepting quests or missions from them, mixed with battles, mostly when travelling. Battles will be easy when being just on the outskirts of any village or town, while stronger enemies will be encountered when closer to wilderness areas. The concept makes sense since one could assume that enemies closer to the villages are killed or scared away thus the situation. Combat develops plainly similar to JRPGs, featuring a turn based system which is now staple in the genre. A neat addition to the combat system is the protect command, which shifts a character in front of another to protect him from incoming damage. This could turn crucial in times when you want to save someone due to his abilities or items, and thus may give additional turns to play. When not battling, you can explore and gather items even as said before these take time. Having multiple people in your parties is effective when gathering items since these also gather with you. Different persons can gather different items, and as such rare items are made even rarer due to the fact of specialisation in collecting resources.
A neat little feature of the game is the ability to write events in a memory diary. The writings are a sort of checkpoint in the sense that the story is put little by little into these little pieces which basically recount what happened in the game. Writing these stories requires memory points, which are obtained by doing practically everything in the game, from talking to locals to synthesizing ingredients in the cauldron, something which can be done from safe houses and suitable locations, of which there are quite some in the game. Writing in this diary will not only record the events but also grant bonuses such as increased HP, MP, or also stat parameters such as attack or defence.
What really gives Atelier Ayesha its own identity is the beautiful visuals, which look taken straight out of a painting, and the excellent music accompanying the game at all times. Visually, the game is impressive, and while not using cutting edge graphics like the ones we are now accustomed to of the latest games, its style is more than enough to compensate. Characters are beautifully rendered, and their animations are also great. Meanwhile, the music is a joy to the ears of the player, and its toned down pace and relaxedness are perfect for the pacing of the game, which although tells the tale of a girl pressed by time, wants you to spend as much as you want even simply chatting about with random people. The voice acting also infuses characters with personality, adding more to the experience overall. Being a game containing quite a lot of cutscenes, knowing that these are done especially well makes you almost want the next one to happen.
Atelier Ayesha is a game which although not for everyone, will enchant those who the game is made for. Its mixture of graphics, music, story and gameplay are enough to keep you busy for quite a long time, and being not the usual theme of saving the world, it is a nice break from bombastic adventures. This is a game which surely needs to receive the attention given to it by its creators, which have surely created a heck of a game, and porting it to a handheld will hopefully reach bigger audiences who will enjoy every second of it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.