After the success of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, Koei Temco and Gust are ready to treat fans to a trio of adventures from the much loved Atelier series. The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack brings back three classic tales with added DLC and new features.
The Atelier series has had a massive resurgence over the last few years with several past titles being ported into deluxe packs, which is great as there are 22 different titles in series. So at least new fans will be able to get their hand on some of the older titles.
This time round Koei Temco and Gust are bringing the definitive editions of their Mysterious saga, which includes Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book and Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings.
Each game in the Atelier series focuses on a different group of heroes with some characters appearing in multiple games. They tend to follow the same game loop of synthesising items to be used in turn based battles. These new definitive editions include a new photo mode, options to speed up battles and a few DLC which are unique to each game.
The first title in the Atelier’s Mysterious Saga is Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, which follows the adventures of novice alchemist Sophie Neuenmuller who runs an atelier just outside her hometown Kirchen Bell. She finds a mysterious book called Plachta that can somehow move and talk, however Plachta has lost her memories of alchemy.
This results in Sophie going on a quest to restore the missing memories that can help her become a grand alchemist. In JRPG fashion, nothing is as it seems and Sophie will find her quest becomes a fight for the fate of the world filled with a colourful cast of characters.
The second title in the Atelier’s Mysterious Saga is Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey which takes place shortly after Atelier Sophie. This adventure focuses on a new protagonist called Firis Mistlud from the mining town of Ertona. After a fateful encounter with Sophie Neuenmuller who is in the middle of her journey, Firis discovers that she has promising alchemy talent.
Upon realising her new skills, Firis wants to leave her home town and travel the world however her parents aren’t convinced and demand she go to the city of Reisenberg and pass the alchemist certification exam. Firis accepts and begins an adventure with her sister Liane to become a fully recognised alchemist.
The third and final title in the Atelier’s Mysterious Saga is Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. Set four years after the events of Atelier Firis, this adventure focuses on twin sisters Lydie and Suelle Malen who live in a small atelier with their father, Roger in the city of Merveille.
One day the pair hear a voice from their basement, which they aren’t allowed to enter. Without the father to stop them the twins head to the basement and discover a mysterious painting which sucks them in. Inside they meet a mysterious woman and find a lot of materials for alchemy. This leads to an adventure to discover the secrets of the painting, learning more about alchemy and becoming intertwined with characters from past adventures leading to an amazing conclusion to the Mysterious Saga.
Atelier’s Mysterious Saga is a charming tale filled with a host of fun characters. The series does well to intertwine each protagonist’s individual story arcs while making sure each game offers a new experience. Fans of the game will be happy to see Sophie’s adventure span over three different games, however it can be argued Sophie’s main quest to restore Plachta should’ve been wrapped up in the first game. Saying that players will enjoy all the twists and turns that await the protagonist of each game, while each part may differ in length they still provide a fresh amount of content to be consumed.
Visually all the titles in the Mysterious Saga are nice looking games, mixing a bright anime aesthetic with Gust’s signature art style. Character models including the NPCs have original quirky designs that you could only find in an JRPG. Each of the core characters ooze personality but the NPCs are often lifeless with their facial expressions barely changing at all.
Enemies designs really vary with the bosses looking fantastic and menacing that will give players a sense of satisfaction once they are defeated, with the majority of the creatures players will fight just look too cute and cuddly for my liking.
The location designs in each game vary quite a bit with a lot of the area in Atelier Sophie looking really bland and essentially feeling like you are exploring the same place over and over. Locations often feel cramped and are overrun with enemies which makes exploration feel very repetitive.
Atelier Firis improves this by being the first game in the series to feature an open world, offering lush spacious locations with more character added to their designs that will make players want to explore its beauty.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle, much like Atelier Firis, has a host of nice locations that look stunning and cheerful. However I feel that the creativity of the paintings could’ve been a little more adventurous as they feel too similar to locations on the world map. The overall aesthetics of the worlds in these game, mainly the last two are mostly charming, sporting an array of dreamlike hues and lots of intricate details.
The three games only come with Japanese voice acting which may infuriate some as it’s getting a worldwide release and not every wants to constantly read subtitles, I don’t think this is a deal breaker but clearly this should have been worked into the game with its diverse audience.
The gameplay in Atelier games are always a mix of alchemy, exploration and combat which has worked well for the series to date. The Mysterious Saga has many similarities and a few extras that are unique to each game which is great and makes them stand out in their own right. Each of the main quests in the games flow really well working hand in hand with the strong narrative to stop becoming dull. Players will enjoy helping Sophie to unlock Plachta’s memories or Lydie and Suelle to earn promotions to raise the rank of the Atelier and unlock new paintings.
Exploration in past Atelier games had a focus on timed events where players had to hit certain milestones within a time limit to progress the story and achieve a better ending. However this is largely absent from this trio of games with it being completely non existent in Atelier Sophie. Events will still take place on certain days but players won’t be punished by a time limit. There are still timed events in Atelier Firis and Atelier Lydie & Suelle, but these are just for certain parts of the game.
This is a really big change as players will be allowed to explore a lot more of the world without always having time restraints, however fans may argue that this has taken some of the edge out of the games as actions like synthesising, travelling and combat all consumed time meaning that players had to master skills to make use of the time frame available.
Saying that new players will be happy to play the game at their leisure and play at a much slower pace, discovering secrets and gathering more items to synthesise. Other than the few time limited missions mentioned earlier, time will mainly affect night and day with different enemies and NPCs appearing at different times.
Traversing the world in all three games differs greatly with Atelier Sophie and Atelier Lydie & Suelle opting for a world map made up of different areas that players travel to by selecting on the map.
Areas are pretty small in Atelier Sophie but there are lots of them, with the world map utilising an LP counter which dictates Sophie’s overall performance. Atelier Lydie & Suelle also has areas players can select and travel to, however these areas are much larger and with the additions of the paintings to tackle, exploration is more fulfilling than Atelier Sophie.
Atelier Firis really changes things by featuring an open world with each area connecting directly to each other. Players can still travel via the world map and the LP system is still present, but this freedom was the best experience of exploration out of the three games giving players a real sense of adventure. There are also numerous ways to travel in Atelier Firis that just improve exploration overall. Atelier Firis proves that the Atelier series has the scope for an open world that works and it’s great to see games like Atelier Ryza continue this approach.
Synthesising is another core part of the Atelier lore with players having to use items they find through exploration or by defeating monsters to create new items. Players will first have to choose what cauldron they want to craft items in, unlocking better ones as they progress. Once the cauldron is chosen, players will choose different items to make a new item. Players will then be taken to a Tetris-style layout where they will have to place their items. Items can be placed anywhere on the grid, and players should make sure to match colours as this will improve the quality of the end product.
Each synthesis system is pretty much the same in principle but slightly differs in technique with Atelier Firis focusing on colour percentages affecting the process and Atelier Lydie & Suelle introduced catalyst items. It can get very complicated and the in-game tutorial doesn’t really do a good job of explaining the process to players.
Players can undertake numerous requests in all three games that can help them gain great items. These normally consist of collecting a certain number of items or slaying a certain number of monsters. This can get really repetitive at times and their importance varies depending which game you are playing as they can help with reputation and resources. But overall there aren’t many repercussions from missing them and the main story quests are much more enjoyable and rewarding.
Battle systems in the Atelier series have very similar designs with them all being turn-based, with an indicator to show players when their characters can attack next. Character turns are affected by attacks and actions that are executed, meaning players will have to think up a strategy to utilise their best moves. All three games make use of these basic strategies with a few differences to mix it up such as knowing about stances to improve your defensive and offensive abilities.
Players will need to understand the workings of Chain Burst, Chain Links and Combination Arts to name a few to give them the edge in battle. The battle systems in all three games work effortlessly and are easy to grasp for newcomers. Players will be able to learn an abundance of new moves to add to their strategy making battles one of the brightest features of the games. Attack animations are a massive bonus with each new battle bringing so much colourful chaos they are a beauty to watch.
The Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack is great for original fans and newcomers, all the added DLC and new features really improve the overall experience in each of the games. They all have something different to offer, that will satisfy different types of players. Like previous Atelier games the synthesising system is very daunting and can be confusing for newcomers. The game does try to explain the system but I feel it needs a much more detailed tutorial for players to understand all the ins and outs. But players shouldn’t give the games a miss as they are great JRPGs to add to your collections.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack is out now for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows