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A huge step backwards

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    Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    A huge step backwards

    Ah, the Atelier Series. It’s still niche in my part of the world ( Europa). Having played every Atelier game there is, I can safely say that Firis does some good and a lot of bad. But let’s go over the finer points.

    Story

    It’s your typical Atelier story. The game starts with our ever dainty female Protagonist. Guess Logy just wasn’t popular enough to warrant a male MC, huh? In any case, the game starts with Firis staring at a huge stone door, voicing her desire to go outside. Everyone who ever played any Atelier game knows, you’re going through that door. The build up to that is actually a bit above generic, yet it’s still pretty standard fare. So our Firis one day hears someone talking on the other side of the door and the door is then splendidly blon to pieces, serving to introduce the player to our previous dainty MC, Sophie. Thus starts the story of you going through that door. You parents allow you to go outside if you can master Alchemy, which Sophie so handily masters pretty well. That premise is quick forgotten though, because as soon as you leave, say good bye to Sophie and Plachta for good 10-15 hours. The first year thus serves as a tutorial, building up to the exam you have to pass. After the exam, the story disappears and your free to roam the world, going after the ending you want for Firis.

    Visuals

    Nothing really to write home about. The world looks pretty beautiful and the characters look nice enough. There is still an awful lot of copy pasted monsters and materials with a different paint job though. Can’t say I like the Illustrator very much, cause I’m still stuck on Kishida Mel. Battle effects look pretty tame but some item’s look very nice.

    Gameplay

    Ah, the bread and butter of the Atelier Series. If you’re a fan of synthesizing, you came to the right place. Recipe Ideas are basically the same from Sophie, but the Alchemy itself is way more complex. What transfers, how many times you an use it, the quality etc etc is all dependant on how good you are in making it. That is represented by a small star in the upper right. It goes from bronze to silver to gold and lastly platinum. If you have none of the Proficiency Atelier Making stuff, be prepared to make a lot of items till you get to platinum. The rest is roughly the same, nothing really new if you played Sophie before. That leaves us with Atelier Making. After a certain part in the story, you can make new items to put into your Atelier, like a new bed, an extra container etc etc. Don’t forget to equip your Alchemy Dress when you’re synthesizing!

    Combat

    Since Alchemy and Combat are like night and day, be prepared to get whacked if you’re not careful. Combat in this game feels like a tacked on extra, since you can go through the whole game not fighting once, except the Puni at the beginning and the exam, based on how good you do there. The meat of combat are your party members. I’m glad to see, they are not all the general arche type. Liane is always with you and will never leave you either. Same with Sophie and Plachta way later in the game. That leaves you only a few spots to fill ith your favourite party members. The sad part is that most party members reasons for being with you are shallow at best. So, you meet Drossel and lead her out of the forest, but now she follows you around instead? You help Kadel one time with those two robbers and now you’re puppy dogging him around? In any case, characters can equip they’re Main weapon and a Sub weapon. Ever wanted an Alchemist use a gun? Look no further! The rest is standard fare, like equipping armor(duh!), two extra accessories etc. Sophie can also equip things like Pickaxe’s and Fishing Rod’s and Traveler Shoes, to make traveling easier.

    Sound/Music

    Nothing that really stands out. If you want, you can download 3 GB Atelier Music from the PS Store. It’s your standard Atelier Music.

    Replay Value

    Can’t really see any RV. Maybe if you bought the DLC characters and want to start fresh.

    Buy or Pass

    This is tough. Atelier fans will buy it anyways, but for the casual gamer? I would say, buy Sophie first and see if you like it. It will also make you appreciate some characters like Oscar more.

    Afterthoughts

    This is definite a step back from Sophie. What exactly is the point of Escha, other then pandering? And also, be sure to safe frequent, since Version 1.02 is known to cause crashes.

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