Take a long running JRPG and mix in a free open world game, and by principle of alchemy you get this fantastic entry into the Atelier series.
Hi there guys, Clarice FINALLY here again, and I’m back bringing you reviews and opinionated posts that will get you humming and harring.
Atelier Firis is the eighteenth main game in the Atelier series, it is also the second game in the Mysterious series, the first being Atelier Sophie. This story follows a young girl named Firis who dreams of nothing more than to feel the soft breeze upon her face and to see the brilliant blue sky that she has heard off only in stories. Firis like many others live in a secluded mine to where they are forbidden to leave, quite similar to Dark Chronicle, but our little Firis is desperate to leave and to explore the open world much like her big sister Liane.
Only those who can prove themselves to be hunters may be allowed to leave and Firis is no hunter, but she is a core member of her society as her special talent is the ability to hear where ores and minerals are located, which is a great help for when you are searching for material. Firis’ adventure begins when two young girls named Sophie and Plachta, these are the alchemists from Atelier Sophie, enter the mine by using alchemy to blow up the door, break in and entry much? This sparked Firis’ interest into the world of alchemy and this is where her journey starts.
The environments and art style are truly impressive, the bold colours in dank environments really brings the collectibles and characters to live, the opening environment really makes you feel as if you are cut out from the rest of the world and secluded, this helps you empathize with the characters making you feel more immersed into the world. Upon exiting the mines you are immediately hit with a burst of bright sunshine and crystal clear skies, the feeling of being outside overwhelms you as if you were really stuck inside the mines yourself. The world is beautifully crafted and full of collectibles and treasures, but once you enter the main town, and get the sight of windmills and lush green grass you get a sense that this world was crafted with love, especially how this game has one of the largest worlds out of all the Atelier games.
The gameplay itself is addicting as it is fluent, from creating everything using alchemy to exploring the world freely, this game provides hours of fun. The combat is very similar to the previous games, a tradition turn-based system but with the added Chain Burst attack. This in essence grants the player to do immense amount of damage once the Link gauge is filled, this is done by doing numerous attacks as well as having 4 party members defending Firis. Once the gauge is full you can perform a chain attack to where each party member who has a consecutive move joins together to create one final move called a Chain Strike, basically a finisher on the enemy you are facing.
Although the premise of this new feature does improve the combat I personally felt as if it was missing something, something that engages the player and forces them to think strategical and to plan ahead but alas the combat feels very bland after the first few battles. However, even though Atelier Firis does fall short on its battle system it doesn’t necessarily bring the game down by any means, the simple enjoyment of exploring and finding your way around the world helps to boost this game up.
The core gameplay is the alchemy, this is how you create status improved outfits and weapons that help you defeat your foes. To create any object you first need the recipe and the materials, both require you to explore the world and do side quests to gain ideas into how to create such objects. When creating anything you first need the material and to gain any status abilities or even to the size of the object you need a catalyst. Each material has its own pattern and colour and it is up to you how you arrange it, some catalysts have the ability to increase its effectiveness or even decrease so choose wisely on how you arrange it.
Now here is where for me the game falls flat on its face, to some this mechanic is what made the Atelier franchise but for me, I felt as if it ruined it for me. That’s right, I’m talking about the return of time based gameplay. When beginning the game you are tasked with helping those who are in need in a certain time frame, with each bit of alchemy to just running takes that time away, if failed to complete this chapter in the time slotted you fail and the same goes for when you enter the real world. The same rules apply here, you have just one year to complete your test to become a fully licensed alchemist, now I know what you’re thinking “But Clarice, it’s a year, 365 days to complete a simple task” that may be true but I can guarantee the you will not stop looking at that countdown and dreading the fact that you won’t make it. Once you have run out of time BOOM instant bad ending and you return back to the mine you once came from. Each step, each creation, each mission even every resource you gather takes up time and proceeds to countdown to your doom. Trust me, I had the same feeling of dread when playing the Dead Rising franchise but that’s another review altogether.
To play the devil’s advocate though, once you passed the test the world is yours to freely explore to your heart’s desire, every cave, nook and cranny is waiting for you it’s just this initial hurdle you need to face and complete.
The soundtrack is where my heart was stolen, it is beautiful and flows amazingly with the environment you are in, I have never wanted to just stand still in a game and take in the music that caress your ears, that might be a tad bit dramatic but honestly it is once you hear it, it will haunt your dreams with its beautiful melodies. This game is brings your senses to its knees with the visuals and sounds.
To summarize this roller-coaster of emotions it is a solid entry into the Atelier franchise, it improves the combat from the previous game Atelier Sophie as well as it as aesthetically pleasing to see. The combat is lackluster but the alchemy is truly engaging. I would highly recommend this game for both long-time fans and even new comers.
+ The soundtrack is amazing
+ The environments are detailed
+ The character designs are detailed and really show the characters personalities
? The voice acting is okay, nothing special
? The combat is decent
? The crafting is good but needs work on
– The time limit restricts you
– It’s hard to understand where to go
Overall I did thoroughly enjoy this game but it does lack on some of the basics so for that reason I give it a good 7.5 / 10