When I was a child, I grew up playing a game called Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. Now, I can’t remember much of it but I certainly know that I really enjoyed it. I never finished the game because young me couldn’t figure out how to get past a certain point in the story but my memories of it are almost entirely positive. It was a great game!

I never touched another Atelier game after that and as time went on, I forgot about it. I never knew the game was part of the bigger Atelier Series until more recently what with all the new Atelier games for the PS3 and PS4 (now on Steam too). Wanting to reinvigorate myself and dive back into the series, I purchased Atelier Sophie on Steam and have about 20 hours of it down.

I don't remember much aside from the fact that Marietta was pretty badass
I was a little apprehensive to start it to be honest because it doesn’t look like anything I remembered of Atelier. It seemed to be mostly bogged down by a simple colour-matching alchemy mechanic, lackluster graphics and dated gameplay. I was all too afraid I might not like it because, as I said, I wanted to get back into Atelier.

Lo and behold, the game holds well in my opinion! Firstly, the main thing to address here is the incredible art style. No, not the graphics. The drawn art. It’s stunning to just look at the status screen and take in the incredible art. The artists made use of fantastic colour blends with well thought out character designs combined with a vibrant atmosphere to really make everything pop. This right here is the anchor for this game by which everything else works.

The gameplay still feels a little dated but is supplemented by the stylishness of the game. Characters move and perform skills in an anime-esque stylistic way while victory and level up animations represent the toppings on the cake. They all blend well together to give battle an appeal that would otherwise not exist.

Aside from that, the main crux of the gameplay is the alchemy. Fusing items is rather simple yes, but it certainly is fun to do. You can be fusing items with traits that allow you to sell them for a good profit or items that provide advantageous stats when equipped or used. Either way, it feels rewarding enough to go through the whole process while the sheer variety of traits and items provide enough diversity to keep it interesting as you move along the game.

Gathering resources is as simple as clicking a button and other gameplay elements are very easy to pick up on. This simplistic approach further complements the alchemy and combat as you don’t always have to be on your toes for anything. The entire game is pretty relaxing to be quite frank and it’s something you can pick up for an hour to enjoy with a hot cup of tea.

The only thing that is lacking is the story and execution. The characters can be more fun and charming if the story was a bit more involving with better animation and direction. For now, it just seems like the story has no heart because scenes play out in 1-2 min segments with zero stakes on the board. I can imagine how they can do it better but I’m not quite familiar with Gust’s way of game design. I can remember however that Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana had a typical JRPG story that, at the very least, added a heart and soul to the game.

While I have been talking about this game, this isn’t one of my Game Commentaries. I haven’t finished the game after all. I do expect to play Atelier Firis after this with the upcoming one after that too but all in good time. I need to start Monster Hunter eventually after all.


Popular Posts