Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this instalment, we’re covering Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key by developer Gust.
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key: (The Explanation)
All good things must ultimately come to an end and Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key marks the final chapter for Reisalin “Ryza” Stout and her friends’ summer adventures together. Their adventure started in 2019 with Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout. Three childhood friends Ryza, Lent, and Tao grew up on the small idyllic island of Kurken went on their first adventure and made new friends Bos, Klaudia, Empel, and Lila, and made wonderful memories that they will never forget. as well as stopping the terrifying Philuscha threat from destroying their island home.
The next great adventure for Ryza and friends was Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy and takes place around the capital city Ashra-am Baird, three years on from the events of the first game. This time, Ryza is entrusted with a strange stone that turns out not to be a stone at all and is actually an egg. The egg hatches to reveal a fairy that is somehow linked to the ruins around Ashra-am Baird.
As for Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, the whole gang is together again on Kurken Island. What was meant to be a warm reunion to reminisce of their adventures together becomes the beginning of a new adventure as mysterious islands recently appear near the island and is causing disruption to the inhabitants of Kurken Island and to sailing merchants who import and export wares and produce to Kurken. However, trying to find the solution to the problem will have Ryza and company travel all over a vast open world on their biggest adventure yet.
Gamers who have played previous entries in the Atelier Ryza series, will already have a general idea of what to expect gameplay wise in Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key. For those of you who will be jumping into the series for the first time, Atelier Ryza 3 is an RPG that focuses on exploration and gathering materials by swinging Ryza’s staff, axe, scythe, hammer, etc., then using them through a process called Synthesis to create useful items like tools, weapons, armor and accessories. The process of Synthesis (also known as Alchemy throughout the game) is very much like crafting in other RPG’s. In the beginning, you will be able to synthesize basic items but as you progress further into the game, you will be able to find better quality materials that you can use to synthesize better and stronger items.
Like all RPG’s, you can’t have exploration without combat and there are plenty of beasties to give a good whack. When out adventuring outside the safety of villages or towns, you can find monsters that will engage in combat with you should you get too close. The combat is time-based in that you will be able to administer a number of attacks and skills within an allotted time frame. Standard attacks use up little of the time and you will be able to attack again almost immediately. As for using skills, these will consume more of the time gauge and also require Action Points (AP). AP is acquired by Ryza and other members in the party. When you have accumulated a suitable number of AP, you will be able to do physical or magical damage to enemies which is more powerful than your standard attack.
Combat also has two different Modes: Support Mode and Aggressive Mode. Support Mode has the other members in your party pool up the AP points together and allows the character you are playing to administer them to skills as you see fit. Aggressive Mode on the other hand, allows the other characters to activate their own skills using the AP instead.
These skills are not the only thing you can use in combat either. If you have items attached to your characters, you can use them during your turn to recover health for you or other members of your party, deal damage to enemies or administer buffs or debuffs. You can also activate Order Drives and Fatal Drives to really pile on the pain on enemies. Order drives can be used as many times as you like as long as you have enough Order Points to use them. As for Fatal Drive, this requires what is called your Tactics Level to reach lvl 5. Your character can only use it once during combat but you can change to another character and raise the Tactics Level again and do a Fatal Drive with another character.
You can also switch out active members of your party with others who are waiting on the sidelines and can join in when prompted. You can also swap between characters in your active party by pressing ZL or ZR. Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key has 11 characters to choose from but only three can be assigned to your front row (active party) and two can be assigned to the back row. All the other characters will be kept in reserve until you choose to add them to your party. It is worth pointing out that after beating enemies, experience points will be given to all members, including those in the back row and in reserve so you won’t have to worry about constantly swapping out characters to grind levels.
A new feature in Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is the Key Feature. When fighting enemies, you will be able to create keys from them. What kind of keys depends on the type of enemies that you fight. These keys cand have one of four different uses. They can be used as buffs in combat, increase character stats, open sealed barriers and treasure chests, and be used in synthesis to further improve the kind of items you can create.
When it comes to the world of Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, it is probably the most expansive in the series yet. There are four regions in the game and each has its own areas to be explored. The game is open world as well and while you can’t just climb over cliffs to reach the other side like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild, there are no transitions or loading times either so you can wander from one area to another seamlessly. Because the game’s world is so large, you may be relieved to know that there are landmarks that once visited, will act as fast travel points to make it easier to get to one place or another.
For the most part of the game Ryza and her pals will be able to undertake a multitude of quests. The main story quest takes around 30 hours but there are many other side quests to keep you occupied during and after the main story has finished. Some of the side quests can be quite straightforward like defeat a certain monster, craft a particular item, or trade a required number of items. Other quests are in a number of parts that will have you traversing all over the map to talk to certain NPC’s in order to progress the side quest further. These quests are worth doing though as you can receive Cole which is the in-game currency and is used to by materials and items from merchants, and SP which are Skill Points that can be used to unlock more recipes and increase Ryza’s gathering skills in the field.
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is perhaps the most ambitious entry in the series yet and really has so much to keep players engaged from beginning to end. The length of this EXPlay alone has only just scratched the surface of the game and there are still more features that I have yet to talk about. You can reinforce items that you have synthesized, trade in items to create gems that can be used to duplicate items you have synthesized so you don’t have to waste unnecessary materials to create more, and you can even set up more Ateliers in each region of the world so you don’t have to keep going back to the same one on the far side of the world. On top of that, you can also pet dogs and cats, and even ride on dolphins!
It’s time to wrap up and I just want to say that Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is by far the best entry in the series and with it being the last entry in the series, it is truly going out on a high note. It is a shame that Ryza and her friends’ story may not continue further but who knows, maybe the energetic Ryza will make a return in the future? Even if you have not played Ryza’s previous adventures, you can still jump straight into the fun of Atelier Ryza 3 no issue. There is even a prologue movie on the main menu to fill in new players on the story thus far so they can have a better understanding of what is to come in this game. To say that I love this game would be an understatement as it has been such a joy from start to finish. It may be a bittersweet farewell to Reisalin Stout and what is to be the end of her epic journey but I have been blessed to watch her story unfold and have cherished every moment of it.
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key: (The Gameplay)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: March 24, 2023 (Worldwide)
File Size: 6.6 GB