Taking on a role-playing game is a very daunting task. Even more so when it comes to the more traditional Japanese RPGs that is known for its grand scale adventures and world-ending disasters, long winding plotlines and sometimes clichéd twists and turns as well as the very characters that shape the experience into wonderful and memorable franchises. And the Atelier franchise is something like that and more.
Looking back almost 7 years ago, the Atelier franchise was not something particularly within my radar despite my nerdy outbursts on RPGs. The frilly outfits and the pre-teen main protagonists feel something that I can awfully be embarrassed about should a friend or family member sees me playing such games. As such, it wasn’t until after the western release of Atelier Ayesha Plus when I first got to experience its tale and the franchise as a whole. Now while it offers a very familiar taste of the overbearing walls of text that JRPGs are known for, it also offers a sense of something fresh and vibrant, almost free of the world plunging into chaos should you spend your time aimlessly in its world. The game’s structure was a nice mix of a visual novel adventure with multiple endings and side stories as well as the RPG bits of exploration and freedom.
But the main question here remains untouched. “Is the Atelier Dusk Trilogy worth picking up in 2020?” Having experienced the Atelier Arland Trilogy for the first time in 2018 on modern consoles is definitely a treat despite the lack of graphical advancements that later entries provide and the Dusk Trilogy is no different.
Each of the three games in the series offers the similarly cute and bubbly characters fans have known for and loved while retaining its core gameplay mechanics with a few hiccups and improvements including a plethora of content and scenarios exclusive to the old Playstation 3 and Vita releases.
Ayesha Altugle, the cute and clumsy apothecary living alone in a secluded workshop after her sister went missing finds herself in the middle of yet another adventure, but this time, it’s not just a casual stroll to the woods for herbs but to learn more about alchemy and ultimately finding her long lost sister, Nio. Her upbeat and cheerful nature gives way to the interesting story moments that will unfold within her adventure as she meets new friends, forge stronger bonds and even stronger bombs!
However, the second stream in the trilogy gives birth to the dual protagonists, Escha and Logy where players will be able to choose between the two and while main storyline progression remains the same regardless of the protagonist chosen, certain events and endings will still require a particular protagonist. In this case, the story is set towards research and development where our main protagonists will be assigned tasks every few months similar to Atelier Rorona in the Arland trilogy. Unlike Ayesha which is a bit more open but at the same time, it can get very hard to grasp how bad or well you’re progressing without its ticking time bomb every now and then.
The third entry of the trilogy, however, remedies that with going away with the time management entirely. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is still up for discussion however it does provide a bit more of a friendly experience to players both new to RPGs and on the franchise. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea also offers two protagonists, Shallistera, the daughter of the chief of the ship clan in a village suffering from a drought and Shallotte, a girl who runs her own atelier dreaming to succeed and bring a great amount of money. Similarly, choosing either one will still yield the same development and main objectives.
The core stories alone offer unique experiences to one another but what makes the games really interesting is how you experience the games change and evolve throughout the years. Whether it’s ridding off the interval time bombs, re-arming it on the next or completely removing its time management as a whole. The loosely tied stories is there which makes the game more of a standalone where you can still enjoy wherever you start your adventure because at the end of the day, it has always been about the weird shenanigans and cutesy moments that make up the memorable adventure than how you choose to close it.
The Twirl and Swirl of Life!
One of the more notable and unique part of the franchise aside from the cute frilly dresses that most female protagonists of the franchise mandatorily has to wear is the other mandatorily know-how of alchemy. A unique part of the game where players will spend most of their lives synthesizing items such as potions or bombs by collecting dirt, rocks, leaves and other ordinary stuffs to the absurdly dangerous items you can gather in the area or obtained through fighting monsters using the traditional turn-based combat that most JRPGs fans are familiar with. It’s an oddly satisfying cycle of item collection and crafting which after every iteration makes you stronger and lets you learn new things to craft and be a better alchemist.
Visually, the game is far from the likes of the visuals made exclusively for current generation consoles. Ayesha being the first of the three gives a washed out aesthetics of its environment however the charm of its still images and artwork is still as enchanting as it was the first time I laid eyes on it. Textures still feel like a Playstation 3 title with a bit higher resolution though it’s something that is bearable considering it’s more of an enhanced port than a remaster. The games also offer both Japanese and English audio which is great for people who prefers one over the other.
In summary, the games offer an interesting narrative that has a bit more purpose in a world that feels more inhabited as much as it is barren. There’s also a lot of gorgeously designed characters within the trilogy which makes it even more amazing to see them all change throughout the games while the combat and crafting system is both engaging as it is rewarding.
However, the Atelier Dusk Trilogy is more of a set of games that are catered towards newcomers than it is towards longtime fans who’ve already played through it. While it does provide some additional story scenarios as well as the DLCs should you not have own it already, it comes down to how much you need it or how much you’re willing to pay for it. Considering each one will cost around £32.99 the option of buying one a time is almost never an option when it only puts you under £73.99 for the entire set.
Atelier Dusk Trilogy DX is available on PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch
If interested you can purchase the game here.
This version of the game was Reviewed on PlayStation 4
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Atelier Dusk Trilogy
A trilogy of alchemy themed titles from the "Atelier" series, characteristic for its gradually dilapidating Dusk world and the fascinating characters that inhabit it. With character designs by Hidari, the Dusk world is richly depicted.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 73.99