Developer: GUST Co. Ltd
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: January 26th, 2021 (Worldwide)
The Atelier franchise is a video game series developed by Gust Co. Ltd and has been around since 1997. It is a series of RPGs that focuses on the subject of alchemy, that craft of taking particular materials and crafting them into something else. The Atelier series is currently made up of 22 installments (in time of writing this review) that are divided into 7 subseries, each with its respective protagonist.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is the newest subseries in the franchise and introduces the new protagonist of the series, Reisalin Stout AKA Ryza. The game released on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC back in the later part of 2019. It later spawned a sequel in the form of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. The sequel released on consoles in Japan back in December 2020 but is soon ready for a Western release on January 26th, 2021.
Atelier Ryza: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy takes place three years after the events of the first game. When all of her friends parted ways at the end of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, Ryza stayed on Kurken Island. One day, Ryza is tasked with using her prowess in alchemy to discover the meaning of a mysterious oval-shaped stone that is said to glow on occasion.
Stumped about what the stone is supposed to be, Ryza’s attention turns to a letter from one of her friends to say that they have discovered ruins that may have roots in alchemy. Looking at this as another opportunity for adventure and the possibility that it may help with her own research with the stone, Ryza decides to take up her friend’s offer to join them on their search for the ruins.
Ryza packs up her things and leaves her island home to meet up with her friend at the royal capital of Ashra-am Baird. When she arrives at the large city, Ryza loses her bearings and is overcome by the sheer size of the capital. Fortunately, Ryza’s old friends Bos and Tao find her and give her the grand tour of Ashra-am Baird. They also show Ryza to her new accommodation for the duration of her stay as she helps Tao with his search of the ruins.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a lighthearted tale that doesn’t get too dark. It focuses primarily on exploration, adventure, and friendship without diving too deeply into hardships or suffering. The story provides a nice narrative but can be a little on the heavy side. The game’s cutscenes are quite lengthy at times and make the game feel more like an animated movie than a video game. You can speed up the process but you may miss out on story beats that may be important later.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is much like its predecessor and other entries in the Atelier series. It is a role-playing game that is primarily focused on gathering materials and using them to create more useful items like tools, weapons, and armor. In most RPGs this would be referred to simply as crafting but the Atelier series calls it Alchemy.
The player takes control of Ryza and can explore the large terrain that surrounds Ashra-am Baird and battle monsters. When out in the field exploring, you can gather up materials by picking flowers, swinging your staff around to break rocks and pillars, or fighting enemies. When engaging in battle with monsters, you’ll be taken to a battle screen. The combat is a timed-based affair rather than turn-based. At the beginning of the game, you only have one or two members in your party but you will eventually meet up with other characters who will be willing to join you on your adventures.
In combat, You have to wait a period of time before anyone in your party can make a move. At the same time, the enemies also have a similar cooldown. You can swap between characters using the ZL and ZR buttons. Some characters are faster than others and are likely to attack first. When the character you are using can make a move, you can choose to attack, use an item or flee the battle. If you attack your opponent, you can land up to 3-4 hits by pressing the A button consecutively.
Standard attacks will award you with AP (Action Points). You need AP in order to perform Special Skills that can do more damage to enemies. If you are successful in stringing a number of Special Skills together, you can get a chain attack going to administer even more damage and as you fight tougher enemies, chain attacks help you keep dealing the hurt without getting hit in between.
Naturally, the combat can feel like a bit of a grind at times as you defeat monsters for the materials they can provide you. You may be pleased to know that more features get added to combat like item rush, Skills+, support characters, and so on just to keep things from feeling too stale. Also, it is worth pointing out that you can simply avoid combat in most cases if you prefer to just explore and gather materials.
The general goal of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is to discover and research ruins. There are a number of places that have been long forgotten and hold clues to long lost civilizations. They are also rich with ancient legends but many pieces are missing and need to be recovered. You will find memory fragments inside the ruins and you must place them in the correct places to fill the passages and learn about the history of the ruins. Doing so will unlock rewards like Skill Points (SP) that are used to unlock skills and recipes on the Skill Tree.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Atelier game without its core mechanic, Alchemy! At Ryza’s temporary residence in Ashra-am Baird, she has a cauldron that she can use to synthesize things like new items, materials, and weapons. Each recipe is made up of several ingredients that are required via gathering materials or fighting enemies. You can also purchase some materials from merchants as well. The materials can have different effects and traits that can be tacked onto the new item being synthesized.
Effects and traits are buffs that can improve your stats when used and help resist status effects in battles. Another important thing to be aware of is quality. Each material and item has a grade of quality. Using high-quality materials will yield high-quality items that can be better, stronger, or more expensive. Lower quality materials will of course yield lesser quality items.
Some recipes can help you learn other recipes providing you have the right materials that can in turn create even better and stronger items. Synthesizing items can be a lengthy affair but fortunately, the process has been streamlined in this game and can be sped up as to not lose valuable time waiting.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy really seems to have a lot going on. Aside from the main story, there are a number of story branches with side characters that have their own kind of requests. More often than not, these small quests require a particular item that you can either find, craft, or even already have in your possession. The rewards can differ between the in-game currency Cole or another item. Sometimes you may get an item that you can use to decorate your Atelier.
On the subject of decoration, Ryza’s Atelier can be decorated by placing furniture items in certain areas. You can even change the wallpaper to make it feel more homely. Some furniture items are given to you as a reward but you can also purchase them from merchants as well. Furniture items can be anything from a children’s dolly to a luxury sofa and anything in between. It is not compulsory to decorate your home but the option is there if you like to indulge in in-game decoration.
Fighting monsters can earn you materials but it will not line Ryza’s pockets with coin. While you can sell materials that you have gathered, you can earn more but taking on requests from the bulletin board in the Cafe. These quests can range from someone requiring a certain number of materials or kill a particular enemy/enemies. As well as earn a reward in Cole and other materials, you can also increase your reputation. This will allow you to take on more rewarding requests (and keep the landlord off your back).
Gathering materials can be a laborious task and although for the most part, you can simply pick up materials with your bare hands or by using your staff, there are some things that require more appropriate tools. You can craft gathering tools like an axe or a scythe to yield other types of materials.
At some point in the game, you will be able to craft items that will allow you to reach areas that you couldn’t before and even swim and breathe underwater. This opens up even more opportunities to explore the gorgeous world of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy has a very charming soundtrack. It is both relaxing and endearing for the most part but picks up to be more entertaining and energetic as the tone of the game changes. For example, when milling about the Atelier or the Café, the music will be more subtle and soothing. When out in the field exploring, the music will be a bit more adventurous and in battles, the music is more energetic.
The game is subtitled in most languages but features a fully Japanese voice cast. As most JRPG players and anime watchers will be aware, the very familiar tropes of easily excitable females and moody males are par for the course with these kinds of games. I must admit that while I am no stranger to the typical “behaviors” of anime characters, I still struggle to fully embrace them. That is more an issue with myself though and my lack of knowledge and understanding in the Japanese language than a knock at the voice cast or the characters themselves.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is such a beautiful game to look at. The world is vibrant and the textures are well detailed. Anyone who has played a recent Koei Tecmo game over the last couple of years will more or less know that they will be getting in the term of visuals. The designs of the characters in the game are very much anime inspired from the main cast to the monsters you will face. However, the general aesthetic is very appealing that even people that are not keen on Anime will still enjoy the game.
During my time with the game, I have not noticed any issues with performance nor experienced any bugs, nasty or otherwise. The frame rate is solid and the resolution looks great in both handheld and docked mode. This may be due to the world that you explore is broken up into separate sections as opposed to a large open world like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. Loading times between one area to another are not very long which is just as well seeing that you will be bouncing between places quite often.
With Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy being the first game I have played in the Atelier series, I am wondering to myself why have I not got into the series sooner? I normally shy away from RPGs because I don’t always have the time to play them. They can also be a massive grind fest that resorts in me spending countless hours grinding up my character, just so I can defeat a particular boss and then do it all again for the next boss. That has not been the case for this game.
The gameplay is a lot more story and exploration-based than combat. Combat is still an important part but you don’t have to unnecessarily grind to increase your character’s level to take on a tough boss. That’s not to say that there aren’t tough monsters for you to fight. There are a number of them dotted around the world. However, you don’t always have a big bad boss waiting for you at the end of each of the Ruins that you visit. Most of these monsters are purely optional as well or can be part of a request on the bulletin board.
With combat being an entertaining sideline rather than the sole mechanic of the game, I could enjoy Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy for its other gameplay features. I enjoyed the crafting items and weapons and the whole ‘Alchemy’ mechanic a lot more than I thought I would.
The whole game is a nice change of pace to most other RPG’s that I have started and ended up giving up on. I found this game so engaging that it was hard for me to put down the controller and do other things. I constantly found myself saying “I will just do this one thing and then I’ll finish for today,” but every time I did, I would end up doing another thing and another thing, and three hours later, I was still playing.
I do have a few small critiques that I have with Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. One of them is that you are constantly meeting new characters. That isn’t an issue in itself but when every time your protagonist introduces herself as “Reisalin Stout but you can call me Ryza. I’m an Alchemist” it becomes a little draining from a player’s point of view.
We know full well who Ryza is and that she likes to be called Ryza and that she is an alchemist but why after 15 or so hours in, are we still getting the same introduction line after hearing it 10 times before already? Am I half expected to suffer memory loss at some point and need to be reminded of who the main character is? However, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is still a fun and engaging game that I have had the privilege to play and it even surprises me to say that it might just be my new favorite RPG.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is pure unadulterated fun that you never want to end. It is engaging, entertaining, and very hard to put down. A great introduction to not just the Atelier series but RPG’s in general, even for those who are not fans of RPGs.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
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