The Atelier Series

The Atelier series of alchemy-centric RPGs has been Japanese developer Gust’s flagship franchise since its first installment in 1997.

Not every Atelier game has come West, sadly — but a significant number have done. So throughout this MegaFeature we’ll be taking a look at all the mainline installments we’ve had the opportunity to officially enjoy in English-speaking territories since Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana in 2005.

The Atelier MegaFeature: Prelude - What's this MegaFeature thing all about... and why Atelier? Let's look at the plans for this ambitious endeavour together... and you can wish me luck if you like! I'm going to need it...

Atelier Iris Trilogy

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – It’s an Alchemy Thing - We kick off our exploration of the Atelier Iris trilogy with an examination of how first installment Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana handles the series' core concept of alchemy.
Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – The Craft of Combat - Kicking off an exploration of how Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana might initially seem like your common or garden turn-based, menu-driven RPG, but its combat and progression mechanics quickly show it to be something with plenty of intriguing creativity about it.
Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – Life at 45 Degrees - While many developers were fully embracing the new age of 3D graphics, Gust was proudly continuing the tradition of the isometric perspective role-playing game with Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, giving the game -- and series -- a distinctive look and feel.
Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation - While structurally different from many games in the Atelier series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana remains true to many of the series core themes: matters of cooperation, collaboration and working together for a greater good.
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 1: Atelier Iris – Eternal Mana - Gust's sound team is one of the best in the business. So why don't we celebrate that fact with a look at the soundtrack for Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana?
Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Alchemy Evolution - Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny takes the things that worked about Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, tosses out the things that didn't... and fixes a few things that needed a few tweaks along the way. The result is a very strong sequel.
Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – The Fight for Eden - Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny revamps its combat and progression systems considerably from its predecessor, making for a slick, streamlined game compared to the somewhat experimental-feeling Eternal Mana.
Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Worlds Apart - Atelier Iris 2, like its predecessor, makes use of an isometric perspective to present its world to the player. How does exploration and the overall game structure differ from Eternal Mana?
Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation - The world of Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny is one very different to that seen in its predecessor... but there are still connections to be found, and some universal, always-relevant core themes to explore in its narrative.
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 2: Atelier Iris 2 – The Azoth of Destiny - Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, much like its predecessor, has an excellent soundtrack that combines moments of high drama with endearing, catchy whimsicality. Let's listen to some highlights!
Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – A Step Forward - Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm kicked off a new age for the Atelier series in more ways than one -- but went rather underappreciated in its own time. Let's take a closer look at how it moves the series onwards.
Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Bursting Into Battle - Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is a fairly combat-centric installment in the series, so it's fortunate that there's both an immensely satisfying battle system to enjoy alongside deep progression and customisation mechanics.
Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – A Dazzling Place I Never Knew - Delving into Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm's quest and mission-based structure, and the core design philosophies behind its various "Alterworlds".
Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation - Nobody's perfect, or so they say. This is very much the case in the world of Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm -- but a lot of how your own life plays out is determined by what you choose to do about your own imperfections and flaws, if anything.
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 3: Atelier Iris 3 – Grand Phantasm - It's time to dive once again into the wonderful world of Atelier music! This time we take a look at Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm's soundtrack which, much like many other aspects of this game in particular, really helped push the series forwards and carve out its modern identity.

Mana Khemia

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – The Ninth Atelier - Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is the beginning of a whole new chapter in Atelier history. What's new... and what's stayed the same?
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – School of Hard Knocks - Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis may be a lot more alchemy-centric than its immediate predecessors in the Atelier Iris series... but it also has one of the most satisfying combat systems out of all the PS2-era games in the franchise!
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – A Learning Experience - Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has one of the more unusual progression systems in the Atelier series -- but one that makes good use of the core alchemy theme as a means of measuring your character's overall level of knowledge and power.
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation - The PS2-era Atelier games tend to explore the question of how a power such as alchemy isn't "good" or "bad" in and of itself; it's all about who is using that power. Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is no exception, albeit from a slightly different angle.
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 4: Mana Khemia – Alchemists of Al-Revis - We've established the fact that Gust's sound team is a force to be reckoned with pretty firmly by this point -- so where does Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis fit into its repertoire? Let's listen!
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Back to School - It's time to return to the world of Mana Khemia for the first direct sequel in the Atelier series for quite a while. Bring on the tenth Atelier -- and let's see what makes this one unique!
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – One Must Fall - The Atelier series' mechanics often reinforce a core theme of the series: togetherness and cooperation. This is especially apparent throughout Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy thanks to its combat mechanics, themed around the idea of "unity".
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Making the Grade - Like its predecessor, Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy puts alchemy and the crafting of items at the very core of its character progression mechanics. Let's take a closer look at how this works in the context of the game as a whole.
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Special Measures in the Darkness - Mana Khemia 2 explores some fascinating subjects over the course of its narrative. In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we explore female protagonist Ulrika's side of the narrative, and how it provides commentary on tolerance, acceptance... and the modern education system.
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Doing New Game Plus Right - Let's go round again! How does Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy encourage its players to enjoy two full playthroughs -- plus a bit extra after that -- without feeling like they're going through the motions or retreading old ground?
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Life on the Light Side - Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy's two distinct narrative paths provide a very different perspective on the same events that occur throughout a rather turbulent school year. And the Extra scenario that unlocks after clearing them both resolves things nicely!
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 5: Mana Khemia 2 – Fall of Alchemy - Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy brings us one of Gust's most solid soundtracks from the PS2 era, combining the distinctive "Atelier sound" that would continue to be refined in the following generation with some face-melting rock beats.

Atelier: Arland “Trilogy”

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A Matter of Time - Atelier arrives in the HD era... and promptly makes a grand return to its traditional structure and style after five games of experimentation.
Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A New Generation of Alchemy - While Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland marks a return to the structural conventions of early Atelier games, its alchemy system is the most in-depth and complex of the games we've explored so far. So let's take a closer look!
Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – Living the Arlandian Life - While Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland's time-limited nature might make you think it would be more restrictive than past installments, you'd better be ready for an Atelier game with a whole lot of freedom, and important choices to be made about how you're going to play this time around!
Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – Tradition, Modernity and Belief in Oneself - As a rather more non-linear game than its predecessors, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland's narrative primarily unfolds through a series of character-centric events. What can we learn about the people of Arland from the stories they have to tell?
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 6: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland - It's time to crank up the volume and enjoy some selected tracks from another Atelier soundtrack, courtesy of composer Ken Nakagawa. This time around, it's the turn of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, a game which really solidified the modern "Atelier sound".
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – High Impact Sexual Violence? - It's time to begin our exploration of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, the twelfth game in the Atelier series -- and ponder how it might have ended up with that notorious R18+ "high impact sexual violence" rating from the Australian Classification Board.
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Following the Footsteps - Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland features a structure that is a lot more free and open than its immediate predecessor, giving it a markedly different feel. Let's take a closer look at how the game is put together -- and how you progress.
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Beyond the City Walls - One of the biggest strengths of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland is its worldbuilding. In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we take a look at this aspect of the game, and how it makes its protagonist feel like part of something much bigger.
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – A Journey to Adulthood - Totori's story isn't just one of tracking down her mother. It's also a tale of her growing as a person, and taking those difficult steps from adolescence into adulthood. But she's far from alone on her journey -- even if it is a tad more difficult than most teens face!
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 7: Atelier Totori – The Adventurer of Arland - As we wrap up our time with Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, it's time once again to celebrate the sterling work of Gust's sound team for their considerable role in creating the distinctive audio-visual aesthetic of the series as a whole -- and the melancholy atmosphere of Totori's adventure.
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Building a Legacy - Concluding the Arland trilogy before that pesky Lulua came along and complicated things, Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland builds on the solid foundation of its predecessors to provide a substantial and deep yet accessible challenge for alchemical adventuring enthusiasts.
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – A Princess’ Work is Never Done - Meruru has a lot of work ahead of her if she wants to grow her kingdom from a tiny hamlet into a bustling city. This being an Atelier game, alchemy, of course, plays a big role in all that process. Let's take a look at the game's core mechanics and how they tie in with the tomboy princess' long-term goals.
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Meruru, Warrior Princess - In the Atelier games, holing up in your workshop and crafting huge stockpiles of explosive material is just part of the fun. The other part is when you head out onto the open road and start using those exploding things on the monsters of the realm -- and Meruru has quite a journey ahead of her!
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Royal Responsibilities - Like Atelier Totori before it, Atelier Meruru's narrative is one of personal growth and development. Meruru makes many friends over the course of her adventures, and they all have something important to teach her -- both about life in general, and about her responsibilities.
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 8: Atelier Meruru – The Apprentice of Arland - As our time in the kingdom of Arls draws to a close, it's time to once again celebrate the sterling work of Gust's incredible sound team as we enjoy one of the Atelier series' most memorable soundtracks to date.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – A Trilogy of Four - It's time for a whole new adventure in the lands of Arland. Rorona's daughter Lulua takes centre stage as the Atelier series celebrates its twentieth installment with a return to one of its most beloved settings.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – Fourth-Generation Alchemy - As always for the Atelier series, the alchemy mechanics form the backbone of Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland's game systems. Let's take a closer look at how this game blends comfortable familiarity with more recent innovations.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – The Fight For What’s Important - Like with its alchemy mechanics, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland builds on the good work its predecessors in the Arland series did with combat mechanics, and introduces its own interesting twists on the basic formula. Proper preparation prevents poor performance in this one, for sure.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – Give Me A Reason to Live - Atelier Lulua's narrative concerns our heroine's search to find a reason for living. There are a lot of possible answers to this question, but through the lessons she learns from the people she meets, she eventually comes up with a definitive answer she can commit wholeheartedly to.
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 9: Atelier Lulua – The Scion of Arland - It's time once again to celebrate the magnificent music of the Atelier series and the proud work of Gust's sound team. Let's sit back and enjoy some prime selections from the soundtrack to Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, the fourth and final Arland game.

Atelier: Dusk Trilogy

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Chromatic Shift - First of the well-loved Dusk trilogy, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk provides an all-new Atelier experience that will feel familiar to series veterans, while successfully distinguishing itself from its colourful predecessors in the Arland series.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Alchemy in a Fading World - The alchemy mechanics in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk are a massive reinvention from everything that has come before. Incorporating elements of tabletop card games, the item creation process rewards experimentation and discovery -- and certainly never gets dull!
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Wonder and Danger in the Twilight - Exploration and combat are two more areas where Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk will feel comfortably familiar to series veterans -- but which also reinvent a couple of key systems that give the game as a whole a distinctive feel.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Bonds of People - Atelier Ayesha's narrative looks at a variety of interesting concepts, most of which will be familiar to series veterans. Probably the most important is the fact that, as a wise man once said, bonds of people are the true power...
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 10: Atelier Ayesha – The Alchemist of Dusk - As we wrap up our time with Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, it's time to take a good, long listen to some of the finest pieces of music from its soundtrack. I hope you're ready for the emotional gutpunch that is MARIA!
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Corporate Alchemy - Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky sees a collision between the mysterious worlds of alchemy and... corporate culture? Can new government employees Escha and Logy get away from paperwork for long enough to work on their skills?
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – A Question of Technique - In Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, we see one of the most complex, mechanically dense and satisfying alchemy systems in the whole series. So let's take a closer look at how our heroic duo does things in their shared workshop!
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – What a Way to Make a Living - Escha and Logy have a job to do. In fact, they have quite a few jobs to do over the course of their time working for the Colseit branch of the government. How does all that tie in with the traditional Atelier gameplay? Let's take a look.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Battles at the End of the World - Escha and Logy don't just have alchemy to be getting on with -- the world of Dusk is a dangerous place, so any good alchemist worth their salt needs to know how to lay the smack down on the local Slags, too. Let's take a closer look at combat in the second Dusk game.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Together We’re Stronger - The world of Dusk is dying, but that doesn't mean that humanity has to lose hope completely. In fact, in the world's twilight days, it's of increasing importance that humanity pulls together and comes to understand one another. This is a core theme of Atelier Escha & Logy.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One - Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky has two playable protagonists, which would suggest you need to play the game twice to get the most out of it. Is it worth making that additional effort to see things unfold from a slightly different perspective? Let's investigate!
The Music of Atelier, Vol. 11: Atelier Escha & Logy – Alchemists of the Dusk Sky - As we bid farewell to one of the most well-regarded Atelier games, it's time once again to appreciate the fantastic work that Gust's sound team does in creating a distinctive atmosphere for each and every title in this series. The melancholy of Dusk just wouldn't be the same without it.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – A Fresh Start - The Atelier series is one that has seen many reinventions and fresh starts over the years -- but Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea feels somewhat special in that regard. Could there be hope for the Dusk setting after all?
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – What a Girl Wants - In Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, the Atelier series returns to a classic structure, alternating between clearly defined story missions and more open "free time" segments. But there's always something meaningful to achieve along the way.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – The Art of Shalchemy - Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea mixes things up pretty thoroughly with its alchemy system -- no pun intended. Blending elements from past games with all-new elements, the mechanics might seem complex initially, but true alchemists never shy away from experimentation!

Atelier: Mysterious Trilogy

Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists

Atelier Ryza

The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: