From developer Gust Co. Ltd. and publisher Koei Tecmo comes the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy. Experience the ‘Mysterious’ chapter of the Atelier games in one accessible bundle. It is comprised of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey. And Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. You also get all the original content and more quests & story to explore. The bundle features a new photo mode and faster battle mode. Initially released in late 2015, 2016 & 2017 respectively in Japan. The USA, UK, and Australia release following shortly after.
The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy is part of a larger franchise that began in 1997. First with Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg on PS1. The series consists of 22 main games (and counting) plus several side games. Also releases on Nintendo and Sega consoles in addition to Playstation. Gust and Koei Tecmo have been part of the franchise since the beginning. And this was cemented when Koei Tecmo bought over Gust in 2011.
This deluxe edition of the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy is available now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy – Alchemy RPG meets Anime
I am new to playing JRPGs and this trilogy didn’t disappoint. I had a lot of fun playing these games and I believe you will too. Let all of us here at Thumb Culture know what you thought of the games, as well as what you are looking forward to in the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy. We also reviewed Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy which you can take a look at here. So, let’s take a look!
I found out that ‘atelier’ is the French word for studio or workshop. This is an apt title for telling stories of the titular protagonists. The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy is the story of 4 young women each discovering their place in the world. Each making their mark through the practice of alchemy, which in this world means making everything from balms to bombs. This single-player JRPG tells a rich & detailed story. Experiencing the journey of the titular characters and their friends & companions the game begins with the young women in circumstances where alchemy is how to achieve their respective goals. The people share this world with various monsters and look to alchemists to keep them safe. In addition to solving people’s everyday problems, each game takes place in different regions of the same world, a world that has a culture & civilization comparable to the renaissance era of Europe.
For each part of the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy, it is a discovery that drives the protagonists. For Sophie, a book allows her to continue her grandmother’s legacy. With Firis, it is seeing the world beyond her small village. And for twins Lydie & Suelle it is honouring their mother by becoming renowned alchemists. They all go out into the world and develop their alchemy skills, all the while solving their respective mysteries too. Consequently, their journey takes them all over the country. Meeting and working with an array of colourful characters along the way sees their respective stories unfold in interesting ways as their worlds expand.
The layout & area design and the tertiary characters did let the games down slightly. Frequently when playing Atelier Sophie & Atelier Lydie & Suelle I would find the area’s barriers. Serving as a reminder it wasn’t totally open world. I found all too often the backgrounds and distant points were like movie backdrops. Getting between explorable areas was thankfully made easy with a 3D map and fast travel. Experiencing this felt like missing out on something and a little restricting too. Some secondary and tertiary characters felt very unexpressive in cut scenes. Because of this, I felt it was taking away from the emotions behind their words.
As the title may suggest, you will spend a lot of time in each character’s atelier. Alchemy includes making everything from making potions to weapon upgrades. Materials are available by exploring the countryside or buying them. Using a process called synthesis determines the quality of items you craft. The various materials all add their own traits. Ranging from descriptors like sour to benefits such as damage resistance. Making higher quality items takes time and is reflected in the passage of time.
The day-night cycle adds to the style of play you choose. Taking longer to craft items means less time exploring. It may also mean missing on significant character encounters. In Atelier Firis the quests are timed which keeps you motivated. I enjoyed the alchemy element and the puzzles to get the best results. The pacing of levelling up alchemy and unlocking new recipes was well done. Being in sync with the story too made it feel more natural and earned.
It isn’t all fun and alchemy for our protagonists though. Finding materials to make items often means fighting monsters. Alongside your party, turn-based combat is a major part of the games. Each party member brings their own strengths to combat. Then later in the game, you can change which three companions you bring with you. Choosing wisely is important as the monsters won’t go easy on you. When it comes to levelling up in Atelier Mysterious Trilogy, character XP and alchemy XP are separate. I found this worked well with the balance when choosing to either spend time exploring or on alchemy.
Depending on the area and time of day the monsters can be tougher so be prepared. The characters use an array of weapons and magic in combat. Each character’s unique skills have a limited pool to draw upon. Managing this too is an important part of combat. And in certain circumstances, their combat actions combine to be even more powerful. The introduction of sped up combat so an option to go at 1.5x or 2x speed was a blessing at times. I had a lot of fun with the combat.
Graphics & Audio
The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy has its graphics settings for all three games pre-set. Leaving the only adjustable settings being volume, language & gameplay difficulty. I did keep the game in Japanese with English subtitles. But the option is there to have English dialogue. Having only watched a little anime, I found the games are designed in a similar way. In a good way of course but the games make that clear from the opening sequences. Atelier Sophie originally released on PS3 and Firis & Lydie & Suelle on PS4. The jump between console generations is a significant improvement as the trilogy progresses.
One of the trilogy’s biggest strengths is the visual and audio design. I found walking around to be a delight. The environment clearly had a lot of thought put into it. It seemed so precise and purposeful, everything from civilization to the countryside. Visually it is cartoon-like as you would see in anime. I hadn’t played a game before that had taken this approach and I thought it was brilliant. Playing the games in order to show how the graphics only got better upon reaching the PS4. The day-night cycle and weather really added to the visual experience too. From shadows moving with the sun to rainfall all looked great.
If the visuals didn’t make you think anime then the audio may change that. The voice acting was very well done and really depicts the personalities of the various characters. From the naive protagonist as they set off to the eccentric fighter in your party, and even the deadpan shop owner. The music really sets the tone at the different points of the game. Travelling and exploring the sound effects are serene and carefree. While the score in combat is fast-paced and intense which ups the ante while fighting monsters.
Each game of the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy easily has many hours of content. So completing all three is no easy task. Like most RPGs, you can focus on the main story, visiting side quests, or perhaps even both. Different approaches to the story, gameplay, and combat mean multiple playthroughs. Revisiting and approaching gameplay differently can be equally rewarding. I quickly found myself invested in the story of the various characters. It was satisfying being on the journey with them as their story unfolds. The alchemy creation also adds a new layer when playing with how you approach the world and tactics in combat. Revisiting the game and playing in a different way and seeing how that unfolds also adds plenty of content.
With the additional content, it is also a fresh experience for those who played the original games. Beginning the mystery and unraveling of the plot makes you want to solve it. Getting to the end with the interesting collection of characters will certainly keep you invested.
I went into the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy thinking it was not my cup of tea at all. But I was proven wrong though and gladly so. I engaged with the story right away and was invested to keep playing. Seeing the story unfold as well as alchemy crafting and combat. Alchemy was kept engaging by the synthesis system with recipes and the array of monsters out there. The variety kept the game feeling fresh.
Visually a very beautiful and colourful game in how the settings are designed. But let down somewhat by the clear backdrop design in places. The style definitely seems like anime at times. The voice acting and score all add to the game and complement the gameplay and setting at the time. No doubt I have only scratched the surface but there are many hours of content. Especially with the extra content added for the deluxe edition release.
I really enjoyed Atelier Mysterious Trilogy especially as someone new to the franchise. I can’t wait to see what Gust and Koei Tecmo bring out next.
Disclaimer: A code was received to write this review.