A triple pack of Atelier chaos, full of quirky characters, breaches of the Geneva Convention, and a total disregard for the environment. Find out what we thought of the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack in our in-depth review!
This one was quite a doozy. I have to admit that it took me far longer to sink my teeth into this than I thought it would. I had to, at times, take a step back so I could digest and compile all the information being presented with before returning to bite off more than I could handle once more. Each of the titles in this collection has a lot of similar systems but have their own uniqueness to help them stand apart. The third title in this collection is the one which stuck out to me the most.
As always, I played each of these titles on the default difficulty to create a baseline experience for myself. Each game will receive its own small subsections, but will otherwise be reviewed as a whole.
Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX
+This is most definitely the most relaxed of the three as far as urgency.
+There’s an exceptionally satisfying loop of gathering materials and fighting enemies to increase resource quality.
+While not as refined as the systems of later games, the alchemy in this title is just as gratifying.
–Specific late-game materials can only be acquired through rumors, which have a random chance of appearing.
–This title has a particularly low level cap, which leads into a new system which will require extensive grinding to make the most of.
–Certain areas are locked behind friendship progression with various party members or merchants.
The features of Atelier Sophie which makes it stand out the most would have to be the loop for resource gathering, the low level cap and its subsequent system and the progression of the story.
The resource gathering loop is my favorite aspect of this title. Any time you enter a new map you’ll see in the top right corner a circle with a glowing red dot and four closed spheres. Gathering from the resource nodes in an area will spawn additional enemies. Defeating the spawned enemies will replenish resource nodes you’ve gathered from. This creates a solid loop of harvesting and fighting, and engaging in this loop will slowly increase the level of the area you’re in. Resources will increase in quality and enemies will become more deadly. Getting better materials leads to making better items which leads to being able to survive progressively stronger enemies. Which ties into the next main feature.
Twenty. That’s the level cap for Atelier Sophie. I was absolutely shocked when I hit this level and it said MAX. But that’s not the end of growth for your characters. Beyond making progressively stronger equipment, which will absolutely have the most profound effect on your ability to survive, once a character hits the level cap you unlock the ability to further augment their abilities. Upon reaching this point every character is given ten points which can be distributed to various augmentations.
Where it be base attributes for a solid bump in your stats, to upgrade the combat skills into more powerful versions, or to give characters additional passive abilities with a myriad of effects. Ranging from giving them boosted defense in dire situations, to a major stat boost dependent on a single attribute, these passive skills are a game-changer. This is both a massive positive and a huge negative. Beyond the first ten points, filling the EXP bar again rewards a single point for every “level”. While this isn’t a massive issue in itself, the point requirements for the various abilities rack up quickly. This means optimizing a character is going to require a grind.
Which leads to how you advance through the story. Story progression is tied to Sophie coming into her own as an alchemist by way of learning more and more advanced recipes. The conditions for coming up with, or discovering, recipes are varied but can be as simple as crafting items of a certain quality or defeating powerful enemies. Completing the unlocked item will typically lead to a cutscene in which you gain a new gathering field. This in itself creates a cycle of risk and reward and is to me the core of the Atelier series.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX
+You choose your own journey this time around, exploring massive fields full of resources and enemies means you can wander to your heart’s desire
+The systems for synthesis present in Sophie slightly streamlines itself while expanding on the more interesting aspects
+The improvement to Recipe Ideas allow you to purchase recipes outright using Idea Points you obtain throughout the game.
–It is extremely easy to wander into a region you have no business being in while on the hunt for ever-greater resources
–The sheer amount of subquests can lead you astray if you aren’t careful, and whittle away your limited time.
What stood out the most to me for Atelier Firis was the ability to essentially take my own path through the story. While the finish line is the same, I’m certain the path I’ve taken to get there will have varied greatly from other players. Additionally, there appears to be a form of mastery.
Synthesizing more items of specific categories will increase a gauge through a few ranks, and each new rank adds additional effects to the process of synthesis. These effects are game-changers, which were reliant on the quality of cauldron used in Sophie. Increasing your rank with items allows you to rotate the shapes you plug into the board. The other alteration to how synthesis works is the new board. Rather than using multiple types of cauldrons as in Atelier Sophie, the synthesis screen in Firis shows a board with various panels and various lines which bestow additional effects. Using a catalyst will change which lines are available and can aid in specializing the type of item you’re creating.
The massive difference for this title is just how vast the fields are. Everything you do consumes your precious time, which can make it tempting to beeline for exits in fields to reach new towns and items. I’ve found that what worked best for me is staying in a field until I had either filled up the map to 100%, or discovered all the related recipes to resources unique to that field. It’s important to split your time equally between synthesizing new items which will be beneficial for fights, leveling up in battles against enemies, and completing side quests for either valuable resources or money. All’s not well with these massive fields however. Finding specific items can be incredibly difficult. I recall in particular spending an unhealthy amount of time attempting to find Wild Cotton to craft Mofcott and then craft better armor for my characters.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Painting DX
+The combat system has more synergy oriented features this time around
+Many aspects of the game have been streamlined from Atelier Firis
+It offers an equal balance of challenge and an easygoing adventure
–Compared to Firis and Sophie, the acquisition of new recipes is much slower nearing on a crawl.
–Terrain effects in the middle of a battle can be extremely unpredictable and unnecessarily punishing.
This one is my favorite of the trilogy. It just struck that right note. The loop was the most gratifying for me by far. This time around they chose to return to having individual smaller zones to explore rather than wide open fields. What made it stand out the most for me is the progression system for the story using the alchemist ranking system. Another stand-out feature is the tweaks to the combat system.
There’s this amazing system of task and reward at play. Complete objectives in your Ambitions Journal to gain reputation amongst the town and take the next exam to increase your alchemist rank. Pass the exam and you gain access to a Mysterious Painting, furthering the story and allowing you to gather progressively superior materials. It’s not much different from other titles, as it feels a bit like a carrot and a stick in a very good way. Making this system even better is that it is not required to complete every entry in the Ambitions Journal for each rank to take the exam, meaning it’s ideal for both completionists or people who simply want to get through the story as quickly as possible.
This time around combat features a party of six characters, three main characters and up to three in reserve to tag in. Supporting characters while normally not acting in the battle have the ability to use a finite number of supporting abilities such as additional attacks, or placing down a time card which will nullify a single status ailment or debuff. Additionally, using certain attacks or items in a field can have a field reaction which can result in a hazard damaging the party. Enemies can set off these reactions as well, resulting in significant damage at certain points.
Cut From The Same Cloth
Now that I’ve stated what I feel stands out the most about each respective title, let’s go a little bit more in depth with all the aspects they share and how those differ. As you’d expect, each title focuses on gathering resources to turn into odds and ends through the power of alchemy. Each game facilitates this by requiring the player to go out and find these resources themselves. You can buy certain items from vendors, but most of the time you’ll be getting the best by hand. In Sophie you would find the best resources by increasing the rating of each field, while also finding rumors about items with special properties, or otherwise rare materials.
I have spent a painful amount of time waiting for rumors to pop up so I can make the next item I need to progress where I’m at in Sophie due to this system. Firis has a shortcoming in regards to gathering materials as well, in that the fields are so massive it can be extremely difficult to track down precise locations for specific items. Note taking is a must for this title, but it all comes at the cost of your limited time for the first portion of the game. For Lydie and Suelle, you’ll find that most of your resource hunting will take place in the Mysterious Paintings you unlock through the game, as the amount of fields you find are significantly smaller than the prior two entries in this collection.
Synthesis is largely similar between all three titles as well. Sophie is the one which stands out as the most peculiar, due to the inclusion of multiple cauldrons which each have their own utilization. Later cauldrons are most definitely better for mastering the crafting loop to make max quality items. All three titles present a board where you’ll place down shapes based on the quality and size of your selected resources. It’s essentially a game of tetris where how well you squeeze in your synthesis affects the final quality of the item.
Sophie has it as well where placing items down in a specific sequence can cause orbs to appear in adjacent panels, and placing items of a matching color will grant a higher bonus to various parameters. Each title uses a similar system where the value of a resource will affect how many points it contributes towards bolstering effects such as item potency; or passive abilities which will give a bonus to stats when using it to craft a piece of equipment.
Sharing A World
Exploring the world takes different forms between the various titles as well. In Atelier Sophie we are presented with a sprawling world map with an ever increasing number of fields to gather from. Moving between zones on the overworld map can bring a variety of encounters such as enemy encounters, restoration items and even finding money.
Moving between nodes passes time and consumes your LP, which can factor into how long you’re willing or able to spend in a specific area. Atelier Firis however is all fully open world. There’s a number of sprawling maps covering a wide variety of climates. Wandering through the world consumes LP, and as you’re on a journey you don’t return to an Atelier so much as you find a campsite to set up your alchemically enhanced tent to rest. Everything consumes your time, and most activities will consume your LP. You can restore it by either napping in your tent or synthesizing items. In Atelier Lydie and Suelle, there is no LP system present, and you are now provided with a list of fields you travel to split up between the Outskirts Map and the Paintings Map.
The flow of battle remains largely the same between all three titles, with minor differences. While in Sophie you select every action for your entire party at the start of a turn, in Firis and Lydie & Suelle you select individual actions for a party member which are immediately executed. Atelier Sophie features a Chain Link gauge which increases as you perform actions in battle. The higher the gauge is filled the more likely an ally is to use a chain attack.
Once you fill the gauge beyond a certain point your allies are more likely to follow up with multiple attacks and more powerful skills leading up to a unique Special Attack. Firis utilizes a Chain Burst system, somewhat similar to Firis you will fill up a meter using skills and items to initiate this mode. Lydie & Suelle as mentioned above features a system where supporting characters can use specific skills in response to actions made by the character they are supporting. For some it may be placing down an AoE timecard, others will launch a high damage AoE attack.
In all three you will use standard attacks, SP consuming skills, and items with a finite amount of uses. If I’ve learned anything, never rely too heavily on any one facet.
All three of these games excel in their own ways, and have their own distinct shortcomings. Whether you wish to pick up an individual title, or purchase the trilogy as a whole, the experience is absolutely wonderful. There’s a few little details about each game that, while not having any impact on the general gameplay, I found myself quite enjoying. Notably it would be the theme of the Blacksmith shop in Atelier Lydie & Suelle, which reminds me greatly of the shop music from Mana Khemia. There’s also the inclusion of Pamela Ibis, who is by no means a stranger to anyone who has played a prior title in the franchise.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Gust Co Ltd.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo America Corporation
Release Date: Available Now
Overall, the games are as well crafted as they can be and any residual clunkiness is simply a result of the systems at play. The same systems which can create a habitual loop can also be a source of exhaustion. This is the case for the Rumor system in Sophie, having a game rely on a rarely spawning resource is one thing. Requiring a rare rumor to appear and be purchased for an item to appear for a limited time in a specific field is another. Similarly, the vastness of Firis makes finding specific items that much more time consuming, and may make a player attempt to avoid going backwards if at all required for the sake of finding an item.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Kennard Daniel Prim isn’t just your average gamer, he’s a die-hard fan of the single-player genre, specializing in imported games from Japan as well as his love for everything RPG-related.