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 – 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 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 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. 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: 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 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!
Atelier: Arland “Trilogy”
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 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. 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 – 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... 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 Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – The Fight for a Dying World - Like many other aspects of its mechanics and structure, the combat and exploration mechanics in Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea combine an acknowledgement of past systems that worked well with some all-new twists. The result is a mechanically solid and enormously satisfying installment in the series. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – The Kindness of Strangers - Shallistera, one of Atelier Shallie's two protagonists, finds herself having to rely on the kindness of strangers to solve her quest. But, in exchange, she discovers that as a stranger in a strange land, she'll need to show her own brand of kindness in return, too. A world in peril is a world of give and take. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – A Socratic Paradox - "The only thing that I know is that I know nothing". A useful starting point for any alchemist to begin understanding the world around them -- but will Shallistera and Shallotte truly be able to make a difference just through developing their knowledge?
Atelier: Mysterious Trilogy
Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists