Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is now available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Along with its release in the past few weeks, our review now follows, giving an idea of what to expect of the game. Is it worth playing? Let’s take a look.
+Extremely beautiful semi-open worlds to explore
+Time limit restrictions remain absent in the full release.
+The story is rather fun, well scripted and offers the closure needed to the Mysterious trilogy
-Extreme performance problems on Nintendo Switch
-Lacks the open world that really set Atelier Firis apart from the rest
As the Atelier “Mysterious” trilogy comes to a close with Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, I’ve had a few chances to glance back at the previous two games given Christopher Adee’s rather descriptive reviews only to take note of how far this third and final entry of “Mysterious” trilogy has come. From the subtle storytelling elements of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book to the open world elements of Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey.
But now, here we stand, looking down at how large the world had become, how far the Mysterious trilogy has come to this very point. Now, here I stand, at the closing point, one that winds down with the single turn of a metaphorical page. But sadly, you might be slightly disappointed with this latest entry, one that takes a step back in several ways from previous entries.
Since its release on Nintendo Switch, quite possibly a second alternative due to the PS Vita dying off in the West, we’re seeing a few things come from this latest entry. First, the open world setting from Atelier Firis is completely gone, absent if you will. We’re back separated maps for players to explore, which honestly, comes off as a bit of an odd design choice given how well the Switch handles games such as Skyrim and Breath of the Wild rather well. Granted, this is the case with the PlayStation 4 version as well.
Given the fact it works rather well in Atelier Firis, I was a bit taken back by this sudden change at the end of a series. Toss in the fact we lack an English Dub, which honestly, the Switch needs as it is hard to read while in handheld mode, was a bit dumbfounding as well. Just remember, this isn’t all doom and gloom for such a game, but rather, just questionable design choices that had been made.
Luckily, there are several elements that haven’t made a troubling return in this installment: time management. You don’t have to worry about this restrictive system that would force you to work on tasks at hand at a limited pacing, instead, you’re free to do as you please before moving on. This means you can go and level up your alchemy skills while increasing your capabilities in combat and even explore areas to their fullest. Sprinkle in the fact Atelier Lydie & Suelle has the strongest storyline out of the past three titles (it included) and you have a strong send off for the Atelier “Mysterious” trilogy, one that winds down just as you’d expect.
It settles in with a fair bit of excitement while keeping a light-hearted tone through its use of humor and relaxing charm, something expected from an Atelier title. In the game, you’ll take on the role of protagonist twins Lydie and Suelle, both of whom are rookie alchemists. Their ultimate goal is simple, they want to earn the much coveted ‘S’ rank, something now obtainable for the two as the kingdom has announced a brand new ranking system for ateliers. This new system even includes the ateliers receiving financial aid depending on their atelier level, which spurns the girl’s plans into motion as their failing alchemy business is slowly going under.
Much like previous games, in order to move up in the ranks, you’ll need to pass exams, in order to pass exams, you need to improve the protagonists rank of atelier. For Lydie and Suelle, there’s enough going on that the girls are quite capable of doing so thanks to Suelle’s notebook, which will offer ways for you to improve your standing with the town, which includes talking to residents, crafting items for them, fighting monsters, and, well, being a good person all around.
Just like in previous titles, not all the items you create will go to completing quests. Some will go to helping you excel at combat, even if it’s something as simple as fending off some pesky wildlife or something a bit more troubling. Or, simply put, even exploring areas outside the town, which sadly, aren’t nearly as large as the open world of Atelier Firis.
To make things a bit more unique, Gust has added a bit of a twist as players will explore new areas through special and rather “mysterious” paintings created by an alchemist of yesteryear. Luckily, this approach gives great cause to having players dive in and out of closed environments, forcing them to explore each of these worlds, each vibrant, like living and breathing areas brought to life through simple yet somehow intricately woven splashes of paint.
The beauty of these places is that they are amazingly well designed, ranging from a plethora of locales such as underwater environments, ice palaces, rose gardens, to spooky Halloween like areas. Each or beautiful, nice, but even then, it still feels as if a minor step back from the progress Atelier Firis had been made and almost tried to be made up for with these simple-yet-beautiful inclusions.
Just like in past titles, combat and alchemy are rather simple affairs, easily completed by exploring and gathering materials. Combat itself is as simple as it sounds as it plays out rather identical to past affairs. In ways, it can be dull when first starting out. You’ll have to line-up your party, building it up so that you have two rows formed, a front and a back.
Just as expected, the front row is your go-to bunch. These are the ones that will be doing a lot of the fighting while the backlot rests and recovers. Toss in the fact that activating certain and sometimes unspecified conditions can be met, players will be able to enable the back row so that they can perform extra follow-up attacks against a foe, which can usher in devastating combos that alter the ebb and flow of combat.
But much to my delight, not all that shimmered and sparkled was of gold or diamond, metaphorically speaking. On the Nintendo Switch, my adventure was often plagued with performance issues, often times seeing my framerate dip into sub-20 digits, often times in busy areas sitting in the solid single digits.
This, of course, was unexpected after having seen much more demanding games perform rather well on the Nintendo Switch. Standing out among them are games such as Hollow, Skyrim, and even Breath of the Wild, all of which run phenomenally well, not seeing any form of performance struggles or limitations. But this even came down to battery life.
My time with the game in handheld mode was no less than three to four hours before needing to charge my battery back above 10-15%, while often times managing to play entire sessions of more demanding titles without as much demand on battery life (here’s looking at you Payday 2). Even with these performance issues came an even bigger problem: responsiveness. The game didn’t always respond as one would expect.
Often times there would be a small delay in movement or button responses, which led me to uninstall and reinstall the game to see how it would handle. Luckily, some of this changed when going to play the game while docked. Framerates would improve, but only minorly, but the button response delays would completely vanish, offering up a fulfilling experience unlike what I was having while on the go.
Since this is the Switch version, we do need to talk about the overall experience regarding sound quality and visual fidelity. Luckily for us, sound and visuals do not suffer, nor do they seem far off from the experiences we’ve had with the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Rather, they almost seemed identical minus some smaller and more jagged edges and the screen resolution seemingly being limited to 720p while in handheld mode and somewhere between 900-1080p while docked. Frame rates often times would hinder this, giving away to weaker anti-aliasing than the PS4 version, which offered a much higher quality picture.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle – PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed) and Switch (Reviewed)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: Now Available
However, do take note, while we have played both versions for this game, we’re aiming more at the Nintendo Switch version as far as performance is concerned. For those wondering, the game looks absolutely beautiful on both PlayStation 4 and the Switch. While the Switch itself will have much lower performance and visual quality due to the weaker hardware, the game is still worth picking up for fans both new and old if they want to take their game on the go.
Overall, Atelier Lydie & Suelle doesn’t do just a whole lot to improve upon past design choices and implementations, but rather, it improves upon the story in more ways than one and offers a solid ending to the beloved “Mysterious” trilogy that fans have enjoyed for the past few years. Now the only question of it all remains, what next?
Our review is based on a retail version that was provided to us by the game’s publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, 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 or Facebook.