Developer: Gust Co. Ltd.
Publisher: KOEI TECMO
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Version Reviewed: eShop download
No. of Players: 1
Release Date: January 14th, 2020
The franchise of the Atelier games is one that comes with a rich history. Gust Corporation has been developing the series since 1997 – that’s for 23 years now. Mainly starting on the Playstation consoles, versions for both handhelds from Nintendo and also Sony had been made as well. The trilogy I had given for a review consists of three installments: Alchemists of Dusk, Alchemists of Dusk Sky, and Alchemists Of Dusk Sea.
If the three games weren’t enough for the fans, Gust Corporation decided to include the DLC and made some improvements to the series in this trilogy, which was exclusive to their Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita (re-)releases.
High-resolution graphics on a next-gen console, smoother gameplay that also promises a better and richer experience when battling or explores the environment. To top it all off, all of the DLC also found its way into the trilogy I am about to review. Will these three games be enough to set the first step of my long journey as an alchemist?
Note: This review will highlight the aspects of all three games without going into detail much further than in the story section. To give you an equal impression, this article will have three story sections, followed by only one section of gameplay, graphics and so on as to not repeat itself.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk
Our journey through the Dusk series starts with the first title of the three, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk. Ayesha Altugle, a young woman now making a living by selling medicine and living alone, is one day visiting the ruins where her sister Nio had disappeared. Talking to the empty place that resembles more a shrine than a grave, something that appears to be the ghostly silhouette of her vanished sister appears in front of the bewildered Ayesha and her cow.
Already known that Nio had disappeared while gathering herbs for her, the blonde heroine is even more convinced that her little sister still must be alive somewhere. A mysterious man named Keithgriff Hazeldine makes his appearance and tells that young woman to solve the mysteries around the disappearance of her relative by going on a journey and studying alchemy – or Nio will be lost forever.
Overcoming the hardships of a missed or lost loved one and growing on that journey is the tone of the whole first game of the three and sets itself apart not only by the less bubbly and quirky character design but also the overall story of the installment.
Atelier Escha & Logy: The Alchemist of the Dusk Sky
Escha and Logy, the main characters in the second title of the trilogy, takes place a few years after Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk. Both are – you guessed it – alchemists and starting as new members of the R&D division.
Escha, more used to the traditional way of making alchemy, meets Logy, a young man from the city and used to more advanced techniques of the shared occupation. Being lost on his new day thanks to the more rustic environment and tools he faces, Logy quickly must rely more on Escha as both had expected at first. Nonetheless, that makes a very good entry to their friendship and business relations.
Will the government be able to finally lift the secrets of the mysterious and dangerous ruins with the help of Escha and Logy?
Note: Even though the main portion of the game remains the same, choosing either Logy or Escha as the character to play with will serve you different endings and certain events that differ from each playthrough.
Atelier Shallie: The Alchemist of Dusk Sea
The third and last of the series, Atelier Shallie: The Alchemist of Dusk Sea is taking place about ten years later after Atelier Ayesha. The world faces a crisis and a strange phenomenon where all the water dries up from an oasis town, endangering the life of flora and animals, as well as humankind.
Shallistera, the first heroine in Atelier Shallie: The Alchemist of Dusk Sea, is trying to find a way to save her hometown from the severe drought by traveling to the faraway oasis town. Shallotte, on the other hand, is trying to be a good alchemist in her late father’s atelier. Both very similar named main characters will meet during the game and the focus of the story is concentrated on their friendship as well as growth together to reach their goals.
The gameplay is always the same. You have a personal story in each game, but the main aspect is the same: alchemy. You travel around and gather items that you can transform into other useful items following a recipe. You often are given tasks to create an item, be it an assignment or a simple delivery.
Battles with a not too complicated and easy to pick up systems are giving the whole experience some variation. You are able to perform combo attacks that are everything than complicated to pull off, but quite satisfying.
The way you fight monsters in the game differs only slightly; in Atelier Ayesha, you only have Ayesha to use items while in Atelier Escha & Logy, for example, you can equip crafted items on your characters by considering the remaining inventory slots they have available and you can expand with experience.
Time is a big aspect in the Atelier-series and, oh boy, it can run like in real-time. You have some tasks to fulfill in a certain amount of in-game time. Gathering and traveling from one point to the other on the world map take often several days and make you keep a close watch on the clock.
The trilogy and all the games are, though, forgiving and not too strict so you might find yourself barely or not at all able to keep up. Frustration never occurred to me, only the good feeling of getting something done. (And, dare I say, that being the secret formula of the magic of the whole saga.)
CONTENT & FEATURES:
What’s added exactly to the ports back then that is included in the trilogy?
Originally released in Japan in 2014, Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of was a PlayStation Vita port of the original Playstation 3 game with additional content. Almost all as costumes and characters were included. You could also choose a harder difficulty and encounter new enemies.
For me, the most fun addition was the possibility to switch out members of the party whenever you wanted. That flexibility is what I appreciated in the game only by reading it and never actually experienced the original title on the Playstation 3, which had its release date in 2012.
Atelier Escha & Logy: The Alchemist of Dusk Sky was also released first on Playstation 3 in 2013, only a year after Atelier Ayesha. We mark the year 2015 in Japan and 2016 in Europe and NA, where the Vita got a port of the game.
Featuring new playable characters, enemies and story events, fans of the series were probably not disappointed reliving the adventure again on their Playstation Vita or experience it for the very first time. A new synthesis system brings out the differences between both heroine and hero even more and their different style of how to work with different tools.
Game number three, Atelier Shallie: The Alchemist of Dusk Sea, got its release in 2014 on the Playstation 3. Owner of the Playstation Vita could purchase a port in 2016 (Japan) and 2017 (Europe/NA).
Additional content there were new characters (Solle and Escha), costumes as well as a new difficulty (No Hope) and a new location. You are also able to switch all the music and select even other instalments music to play in this trilogy. The DX version also allows you to explore faster by using the ‘Run’ feature as well as fast-forward on battles.
And what is different between the three games?
While the trilogy is connected in the storyline, it is not essential to finish all three games to understand the other ones completely. You will get some hints here and there, but you do not feel lost by not completing the titles. If I had to play all from start to finish, this review would have been in the making way longer than it was!
Speaking of not completing the game, I took an average time of 10 to 15 hours into each game to write up this article. Plus a few (more or less intentional) hours of research about the releases a few years back on Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita and the other installments of the Atelier-saga. Yeah, I got a bit lost by it, but it was so much fun to dive into a so long-running series!
In the second and third Dusk series games, you are also able to play as either Logy or Escha or Shallie (Shallistera)… and Shallie (Shallotte) while you were not able to pick another character besides Ayesha in the first one.
Each and every title probably has an overall amount of 30 to 40 hours to complete. That is only speaking of the main story. Being a completionist will probably drive the overall amount spent in each game up to 10 hours on top. So, roughly adding all the games together, you will be busy for approximately 120 hours of the main story or, when doing everything you possibly can, to probably about 150 hours.
As I mentioned briefly before, the trilogy allows you to listen to a TON of soundtracks. You can change the tracks to your full heart’s content whenever you like in the menu. The music is always pleasant and rich in variety.
Focusing not only on well-done BGM but the Atelier-series is also mostly voice acted. I want to note here that I only did play with Japanese voices. I listened to the English voices on the menu screen by trying out costumes but was not sold on them. And besides; with a title like that, you really wanna set on English voices?
The overly cute Ayesha with her high and squeaky voice hit me more times on the wrong than I’d like to admit, so I was pleasantly surprised by Shallistera’s voice in the third title. Being tired of the female protagonist, I even picked Logy in the second game. A welcomed addition and variety, not only with his character but also with his voice.
I’m not saying that I hate the voice acting – it’s well done, I’m afraid that maybe I am just a bit too old for Ayesha’s high pitched “Aaaah! DEKITA!” (“I did it!”/”It’s done!”) after crafting several items in a row. Escha says a similar text when performing alchemy – but “less” enthusiastic. Still very genki aka full of energy, but with way less sugar in her system as Ayesha seems to have.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Hands down, the graphics/visuals scream anime ever since. The more serious tone in the Dusk-series is visible in the costumes, though. While still very cute and designed with lots of love as well as being more than just averagely unique, there are fewer ribbons and two or three colorful frills missing than they would – for example – in Atelier Arland-series.
The port of the Switch promises smoother running on the console and it’s true. It does run very well in handheld and docked mode… If you focus on Atelier Escha & Logy: The Alchemist of Dusk Sky and Atelier Shallie: The Alchemist of Dusk Sea.
While my playthrough of Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, I encountered several drops in the framerate. Nothing game-breaking or overly annoying; but still not too pleasant and, probably, an issue for some players.
Given that the original title is several years old and had been ported twice now, I kind of can understand the issue… but cannot at the same time. The anime openings and the adorable drawings showing during some events were refreshing. They are gorgeous in each and every game.
The trilogy is something worth recommending – especially if you never played one of these titles before. I have to say that I would skip the first game in the series though. I was discouraged to continue playing and picking up after Atelier Ayesha since I could not connect with the often dull and less appealing environment. That experience was only underlined when touching the following titles. With Atelier Escha & Logy as well as Atelier Shallie, I had so much fun I barely could stop playing.
If you do own the previously released games and/or purchased the port to the Playstation Vita even, I do not see the point in getting it for the Switch unless you are a die-hard fan that wants to support the developer. I mean… That price tag comes with three games, but it is still a bit high for the barely added any improvements over the ports from Playstation 3 over to the Playstation Vita.
Without understating it, though, the satisfying process of getting things done by gathering items from scratch and then combining them to create something new is highly appealing and – as I said before – probably the secret recipe of the long lifespan and success of the Atelier-series. It might not be for everyone, but you should hardly not pass on the Atelier Dusk DX Trilogy if you are a fan of JRPGs.
The Atelier Dusk DX Trilogy has been an experience I have enjoyed very much. Though it is probably not worth double dipping if you already own these games on other systems, The DX Trilogy has all three games in one incredible bundle.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A Review Key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review.
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This post was written by LadySugarcube