The 20th Anniversary Game is finally docking in the Western shores! Atelier Lydie and Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is the 19th main series title developed by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo that was initially released for Japan on December 21, 2017. It’s also the third and final instalment to the mysterious trilogy started by Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book followed by Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey.
As a 20th Anniversary Game, it has to be mind-blowing and with features that are innovative enough to keep their fan base pleased. But considering that Gust absolutely wants to keep it an annual release, there won’t be anything to surprise you enough after the fact that its predecessor emerged with a rich open world adventure as opposed to this game’s dungeon-based adventure closely related to a Neptunia game. Who would hate on Nepu-Nepu anyway?! Right guys? GUYS?!
So while it isn’t as innovative as Atelier Firis, the one thing that made it stand out is its new battle mechanics in the form of battle and extra mixes which lets you synthesize raw materials or previously synthesized items at the start of battles respectively, provided you managed to bonk an enemy to make contact! So bonk! Bonk! Bonk!
Here we follow the story of rookie alchemists Lydie and Suelle Malen as they try to craft, synthesize and gather materials to barely make a living in Merveille, the capital of Adalet. (No wonder Lydie’s top garment is missing some cloth on the sides) With barely no help from their father Roger – a painter and alchemist that has lost his touch ever since the passing of their mother Honnete, (and NO! that’s not what I meant) they applied to take the Atelier Ranking Exams to achieve their dream of becoming the greatest alchemists in the kingdom. But after failing to provide the necessary item for the test, they end up meeting their soon to be alchemy teacher, Ilmeria Von Leinweber, which will then guide them to becoming better at their craft or simply get teased about her height.
And eventually learning more about the mysterious paintings which they first saw in their basement. In which all of their dad’s hobbies are kept hidden, if you know what I mean! While trying to increase their atelier rank, more and more mysterious paintings get added to the gallery in the castle for them to explore which will then let them know about their parent’s past that has been kept a secret until later as well as the upcoming events that would befall in their beloved city.
Other than that, there’s a huge amount of side stories involving the many characters present in the game. From their pasts and their everyday needs, you can bet that it’s going to be a fairly long yet full of laughter and sadness of a story before you pull the curtains to a close!
After taking the control of your character you are then forced into a tutorial bit on the many ways to gather materials from breaking rocks, crystals, barrels to picking up flowers, dirt and plants. Exciting isn’t it? Eventually being able to craft a fishing rod and an insect net for your other crafting needs. Faced with a very linear storyline that branches out to the multiple endings commonly found in the atelier games… you find yourself being tasked with making everything from stomachache medicines to something as crazy as items for restoring paintings in a flick with your magical girl paintbrush!!!
“You have to hand it to the Japanese to even mix alchemy with the word magic!”
Crafting elements has stayed the same with a few changes here and there. You craft items through your gathered materials in the outskirts of the city or from within the painting themselves. The game then rewards you with higher effects if you manage to maximize their potential by adding the same color of components to each slot designated in the menu as well as getting better stats or added bonus if you add suitable traits to each item such as applying status effects, boosting parameters, providing a higher quality bonus or even adding the number of usage.
At this time we are given the power to have as much as three characters as vanguards to use most of the options like attack, use skills or items, defend, flee and even change with your assigned rearguards which has the power to use support skills from providing additional attacks, heals or buffs if conditions are met.
Along with the battle mechanics, we now have the option to synthesize once per battle (dubbed as Battle or Extra Mix) using “archeus anima” a resource that can be obtained by killing enemies or gathering materials… combined with freshly gathered materials in your basket or previously synthesized items like bombs and potions you can wreak havoc to the battlefield as an alchemist of death! Or just a crazy pyromaniac, whichever you prefer!
The game uses the usual cel-shaded models to provide the storytelling and while the game captures the charm that each character has, I can never get passed the fact that their animations are dull and overused with mouth animations completely not synched to their Japanese voice-overs with its rather lackluster set of mouth movements although I blame it on the curse they call “time” to properly develop it.
And while the animation is dull, the saving grace to this is probably its wonderful set of biomes on each area as you explore and gather from one place to the other. A definitive example of a fantasy RPG if I’ve ever seen one.
To set this to a close, the game itself is noteworthy with its well-written dialogue and the vast amount of story scenes present in the game. Characters are unforgettable although a bit of a Japanese cliché at this point. While the battle mechanics is pretty standard, the fact that the game is more focused on synthesizing makes up for it. Japanese voice overs is spot on and I can’t find any fault at it considering I’ve been a fan of Japanese anime for quite some time now. With the rare typographical errors creeping in here and there which can be forgiven.
Animations however is a different story altogether as it is rather dull and annoying after a few chapters of seeing the same animations get tossed around to every character. Clearly, there’s a lack of distinction to one another!
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