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This was my 11th Atelier game since I became a fan of the series in 2018. To put it simply, it was a fun game, but definitely not my favorite in the franchise.
Gameplay-wise, it basically rehashed MK 1, with some improvements and flaws alike (like the addition of QTEs for the latter.) The battle system is a ton of fun, yet still manages to get tiring by the end. I enjoyed the leveling system that was here though, rather than just having a traditional one with grinding/raising levels. In this, your alchemy is tied in directly with stats, and I think that is brilliant.
The alchemy system isn’t too bad either…was the same as MK 1, and while it is not my favorite Atelier alchemy system, it is satisfying all the same.
Onto the story…it was a downgrade from the first one where I enjoyed the narrative throughout, even when gameplay became monotonous. Here though, there were many areas that suffered from poor writing. Plot holes, actions or cause/effect devices not making sense…all of that. I am inclined to say we don’t play Atelier for the story, but that brings me to my next point.
Why are so many of the characters unlikable? I might be able to forgive this if the two worst ones weren’t the two protagonists. They are both obnoxious jerks, and I did not care about them throughout. Some of the party members were also pretty horrible (like Lily and Enna in my opinion.)
Overall, this game overstayed its welcome at 65+ hours, and the two campaigns and one extra chapter did not do it any favors. Classes (it is about an alchemy school) became repetitive, especially when you had to do more or less the same thing a second time around. Didn’t enjoy all of the character stories either; kind of hit or miss.
I am giving it a 3.5 because despite all its flaws, I enjoyed my time with it well enough, and am happy to have played it, and to be one step closer to finishing all the Atelier games.
After replaying the original Arland trilogy, I must say this one is the one where my opinion changed the most. I really didn’t like this game back in early 2021 due to struggling with the time limit. However, this time, it was a ton of fun.
I loved the town building aspects and charming characters, whether they were returning from Rorona or Totori, or new for this game. Like Atelier Rorona, and to a certain extent, Totori, this is a chill game that is surprisingly addicting.
Onto the complaints…for one, you can do everything in the game, beat all bosses, but if it is not NG +, you cannot get the true ending due to a certain character being unavailable for the first playthrough. This is a gaming pet peeve of mine, and never sits well with me.
Unlike Rorona and Totori, you are literally stopped every few minutes for a skit. The other two games had their share of skits, but this one was too much of a good thing. The characters ooze charm, but the skit overload really messed with the pacing.
My last complaint is how horribly this runs on the Vita with frame rate drops and load times. You have to be quite patient with it. My advice is to get the PS4 or Switch DX versions. I imagine those play better.
Overall, so much fun, and I am very glad my opinion of this game has improved. Will play this and Totori later for the true endings, but for now, I am marking them as replayed.
I highly recommend this trilogy if you’re into zen anime games!
Rating in 2021: 3 stars
Rating in 2023: 4.5 stars
Edit: 6/27/23- I decided to finish the game off with the true ending. It was a way better story having everything fleshed out more…I still believe this should have been doable with one playthrough and not required NG +.
This game was a little rough around the edges, but not nearly as bad as it was when I played 3 years ago, and didn’t beat the time limit to fight the final boss. I appreciate the dark (for an Atelier game) storyline, and even liked some of the characters. Some of the gameplay and characters alike don’t work for me though.
I think the main problem is how it is almost imperative to do NG + for the true ending. I have done 2 playthroughs now, and still do not have it, despite beating the final boss. According to a guide, this is due to me not being rich and not triggering two character quests. This kind of situation is a little bit of an oversight to me, but that’s subjective. I will try another NG + for the true ending at a later date.
Overall, dark for what it is and fun to play, but it is at a disadvantage being after Rorona and before Meruru. Still, it is worth a playthrough!
Rating in 2020: 2 stars
Rating in 2023: 3.5 stars