Atelier has been a long running series, but it has changed a lot since the beginning, the main differences being that in older titles you had Mana sprites. You could collect mana throughout the world to use your abilities to synthesise armour, weapons or quest items, but a lot of this has changed. The world is now devoid of mana sprites, Alchemists are rare and most don’t even know they exist, and for some reason they now all come in the shape of young girls who love to wear extremely outgoing outfits. Though the core of the gameplay has still been kept intact with Alchemy being switched from collecting different elements to just general ingredients, you are now limited to only being able to synthesise at different bases you unlock as you travel. This is a nice idea, but troublesome.
This is a sequel following up from the previous game, Totori and still in the same world as the previous three, though this time the continuity takes a back seat, as most of the previous characters are missing, which is a little disappointing for those who liked the idea of continuing along with one of the past games protagonists. So now enter Ayesha, a young Alchemist in training who is trying to find the secret of her lost sister, and decides to travel the world, a time limit has been given as fans will come to expect. Though the reason this time is a little flimsy, it just seems to of been thrown in here with no real context and 3 years has been given. In older titles it was a more solid reason than ‘it just fits’. But apart from that the story is interesting and moves at a fair pace, with interesting characters along the way and some being able to join your party to help with fighting. You can only have 3 at once as prior, each will bring something different to the group, be it offensive, defensive, healing magic, or physical skills to take down an enemy fast to protect others in the group, Ayesha can synthesise items to be used in battle, to cause damage or be used as healing items, and if the correct materials have been collected can make advance armour and weapons for your party as well.
This system works well apart from the fact that if you want to synthesise something, materials are needed. You can buy them from shops the same way as armour and weapons, but the easiest way is to collect them from the ground in areas, but if you collect too many in an area it counts that a day has gone by, and quite quickly the deadline approaches quite fast. Added that to synthesis something you need to go back to a town where you have a cauldron, which in some areas can be quite a trek back, taking multiple in game days, both of which slowly eat away at the allotted time, meaning that you can’t just do what you want, this would be fine obviously but with a game that has such a vague goal exploring is usually the name of the game in RPG’s to find secrets and areas where legendary weapons hide, taking this away makes the game feel a little shallow and in some areas quite a rushed game.
One of the aspects I was most disappointed with was the graphics. The textures are muddy and the environments look bland, this seems to be something that is common with RPG’s in this vain, it hasn’t improved over the lifespan of the console apart from them being able to keep a steady frame rate. This is even more noticeable when you compare the graphics to games like Ni No Kuni, which in comparison has much more vivid and colourful environments and sharper graphics. For a game that obviously is trying to look like an anime, it seems strange that they couldn’t manage to look even half as good as other games, in some aspects the game looks scarily similar to a PS2 era game, which seems to leave the question why isn’t more effort being put into the graphics.
Though it would be stupid to ever call a game like this “short” as any fan of GUST will know that there will be plenty of DLC to buy once the game is out, from extra characters, usually in the form of cameos, high level weapons which will end up helping you with the most likely high level dungeons or areas that seem to always be released for games like this to allow players to push their level cap.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is a niche little title, but it aims for that fan base perfectly. It has all the different synthesises to find and use, and once all DLC has been installed will turn the game into a hearty time sync, though some might argue if DLC has to be added to get this effect it could be a problem on the games half, it just depends on your opinion of DLC.
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.