+Highly rewarding JRPG elements
+Two stories that differentiate greatly between each other
+Unique scenery that becomes ever-more enjoyable with time
-Frame rate issues can become problematic for those preferring smoother frame rates
-Encounters can become too easy for fans to enjoy, but at the same time, too difficult
Last year when I first got my hands on the Atelier series on PlayStation Vita, I was new to this series that’s been a long run JRPG franchise that has adored its fans for years. This was also the first game that would attempt to lure me in so that I would find myself enjoying. However, it was a series I wasn’t immediately hooked on due to the games creativity.
Thankfully, the Plus editions of the games are ones that carry on a bountiful amount of new content players have yet to see. Luckily, the Plus versions seem to be rather hefty in content for their discounted price. Technically speaking, for a new version of the game that comes to life, and offers plenty more for fans to enjoy with the games new improvements. Lucky for us, we get to see this new version continue the cycle, even with the release of Atelier Firis coming up this week. With a plus version for the PlayStation Vita, we get to see the series reach an even broader audience in order to bring in new fans.
Released just shortly before Atelier Sophie, Atelier Shallie was the final title to launch on the PlayStation 3 for the series, but it was also the finality to the Dusk Trilogy of the Atelier series. Luckily, the games do see some minor improvements to the games overall lifespan as well as dungeons for fans to enjoy. Luckily, some of the tweaks help fine-tune some of the games narrative in order to help iron out complaints from the fans such as plot holes, improvements of characters, and even a chance to quash out any nuances within the game.
Much like the last time we reviewed this game, the story revolves around Shallistera Argo and Shallotte Elminus, or Shallie for short. The game introduces players to both through small introductory scenes where they will get to experience both of the characters momentarily before ultimately choosing who they wish to experience first story wise. Both players will find themselves rather familiarized with the games town as both of the girls live there, and both of them are ultimately after the same goal. While this seems that playing the game in the same setting will make the game boring, transparent, and lacking for content, that’s not the case with this game.
Players are fortunately set up in a way so that they wont need to worry about an overly extensive use of the same plot points. Instead, players will find themselves at home with the fact both provide much different adventures. While both will hunt down crafting material, go through familiar fights, and see familiar scenery, they won’t find the narrative copying one-another. However, that’s not the only highlight for Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea.
Gusts’ offering players a choice of which protagonist to play was a great way for players who prefer different types of elements to their game. This also allows those who aren’t too familiar with the Dusk trilogy to become familiarized with the series. For those familiar with the series, Shallisteras would be the path to take as her narrative is tie directly into the long-run franchise where as Shallote is not. Her story is more grounded into her very own character, which provides a story about fame and success. Great entry for new players and one that won’t confuse them in the long run.
While this is an optional feat, most players will find themselves diving into them both, as they explore the games story through cinematic events, which offer up the games anime-like experience. While this may confuse some unfamiliar with past events, the Plus version of this title is able to not exclude protagonists from previous games nor the main story. This, luckily, brings the title full circle for new fans to enjoy. Story aside, there is an over-glaringly large issue that seems ever-present with the PlayStation Vita versions, which can’t go unmentioned.
The PlayStation Vita versions are not exempt from their atrocious framerates, which hampers down the games overall experience, but that’s not go without saying there are pros to this element. The Plus versions of the games look absolutely outstanding on the PlayStation Vita, their visual fedility is not lost between the games move over to the less powerful hand-held. This means, even with the horrible framerates, fans are still getting a decent grasp of what the PlayStation 3 version was like. That does mean there are some aliasing issues as well as slightly blurred textures throughout the game. Overall, it’s not something that hurts the game by any means.
Framerate, as stated, is the biggest issue. The game never seems to hit the targeted 30FPS mark, which brings forth quite a bit of stutter. Objects will pop in during moments of exploration, and when there are quite a few character models on screen, there will be pop-in figures. If you are worried that your Vita may just go “poof, I’m done on you”, this is one of the games that will seemingly make this want to happen. If you can peel away from this mindset, Atelier Shallie is a game that is great for this. It will reward you with an exquisite story that helped bring this long-run series to life as well as to an end.
This is where the Life Task system will keep you rewarded handsomely for your adventures. Players will find themselves moving through specified goals handed to them by clients. They will also find themselves moving forth through the game while also helping players progress through the games story, but also offering them unique recipes for their combat and alchemy. Want to obtain water or plants? Go bust open a few barrels, go pick a few plants, and knock a few enemies around in a circle of needed be. Why, you might ask? Well some of your job-requests may require things only obtained by beating creature and bosses around in a circle.
While exploring through each terrain, combat will happen, and is ultimately needed in order to level up Shallie and her crew. Much as would be expected from a JRPG, Atelier Shallie shines through as a game focused on this element. With Shallie being apart of a six bodied party, players will find themselves enjoying the more difficult battles, and even enjoying the games Burst Mode. This mode only activates once players hit a certain point of damage dealt. In turn, it also allows players to be rewarded with more frequent attacks from party members, and eliminating enemies all the quicker. Boss battles are not exempt from this and players should take advantage of this feature when fighting them. Some bosses could prove quite difficult otherwise.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – PlayStation Vita, PlayStation TV
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: Available Now
Once leveled, players are able to exercise Growth Point, which help you make your characters more powerful for combat. Each one used will help players set their characters up for unique combat prowess’s. Want a character to be more tank-like? Then build them that way. This will allow for combat to be simplified and even enjoyable. With the New Game+ feature, players are able to utilize hefty amounts of strategy as they go into familiar fights and take on difficult enemies.
Even the alchemy system has been given this treat, which will allow for players to craft recipes they are familiar with, and utilizing them like they should. From crafting armor, to bombs, to healing salves, players will fin the grind rewarding int he long run, and won’t regret doing so. Just remember, everything comes with a bonus if done right, even alchemy. If this is something you are up for with the framerate issues aside, you won’t be dissappointed in the adventure given to you.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game given to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.