Tag Archives: alchemy

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A New Generation of Alchemy

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In the previous part of this feature, we took a high-level look at how Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland represented a return to the Atelier series’ roots, after Gust experimented with the formula quite a bit throughout the latter days of the PS2 era.

Today, we’re going to examine one of the main ways that the game combines this “traditional” feel with more complex, in-depth and modern mechanics: its revamped alchemy system. As the centrepiece of the Atelier series as a whole, this has always been where Gust has been at its most experimental and iterative, building on the best aspects of what had come before while casting aside the things that didn’t work quite so well or which couldn’t practically be fleshed out any further.

While Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland’s alchemy system is distinctive in its own right, it also clearly learns a lot of lessons from what immediately preceded it. So get that fire lit under your cauldron, and let’s get cookin’!

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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A Matter of Time

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A year after Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy bid a fond (and very late) farewell to the PlayStation 2, the Atelier series finally entered the high-definition era with the 2009 Japanese release of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland for PlayStation 3.

Since the original release of the game and its 2010 localisation, we’ve seen a few other versions. In 2013, Atelier Rorona Plus revamped the entire game for PlayStation 3 and Vita with the graphics engine and alchemy mechanics from Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the third game in the Arland trilogy. In 2015, Japan got a peculiar chibified remake for Nintendo 3DS. And then in 2018, Atelier Rorona DX, a port of Atelier Rorona Plus that included all its downloadable content, was released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.

From hereon, we’ll primarily be looking at Atelier Rorona DX, since that is the most readily accessible version at the time of writing — but most of what we’ll talk about applies to all the different versions. So grab your Basket and let’s begin a whole new adventure!

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Back to School

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After the Atelier Iris subseries marked a period of dabbling with a more “traditional” RPG-style structure, Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis demonstrated a clearly defined shift back towards Atelier’s roots. And Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy continues that trend.

Indeed, while the three Atelier Iris games are largely unrelated to one another — aside from some long-term lore connections between Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana and Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny — Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy returns to the series’ original model of installments in the same subseries standing by themselves as self-contained narratives, but unfolding in the same world about 5-10 years later.

As the title suggests, time has not been especially kind to the world of Mana Khemia, but that’s part of what makes what’s going on here so interesting. Let’s take a first look!

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Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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The two Mana Khemia games are sometimes unofficially regarded as a continuation of the Atelier Iris trilogy.

It’s fairly easy to see why: the overall presentation is very similar to Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm in particular; the setting, in which human alchemists cooperate with elemental beings known as Mana to Do Alchemy, fits right in with its immediate predecessors; and thematically, there’s a lot in common, too.

Specifically, Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis follows the mould of its precursors by contemplating how alchemy, an inherently neutral power by itself, can be used for both good and ill depending on the individual. But this time around, the whole thing is on a rather more personal scale than the world-saving narratives of Atelier Iris. So let’s explore further!

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Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – The Ninth Atelier

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With the ninth installment in the mainline Atelier series, Gust took the curious decision to temporarily drop the “Atelier [x]” naming convention and instead start a new subseries.

Except it’s not quite that simple; the two Mana Khemia games actually have a fair bit in common with the Atelier Iris subseries in terms of presentation, mechanics, tone and themes, leading some people to consider them an unofficial part of the Atelier Iris “trilogy”.

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter too much; Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis certainly stands by itself as a solid title in the franchise as a whole, so let’s begin with a general overview of what it’s all about.

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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – It’s an Alchemy Thing

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Despite being the sixth game in the series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was the first to come West.

The exact reasoning behind this isn’t entirely clear, but it may be something to do with the fact that the early Atelier games were primarily abstract management simulations with RPG elements, while Atelier Iris unfolds in a manner much more like what the Western audience would have understood “an RPG” to be in 2005.

Perhaps it was assumed the West wasn’t ready for that sort of thing. Perhaps the amount of text in the earlier games made them impractical to localise at the time. Or perhaps they just sort of fell through the cracks. Whatever the reasoning, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was the West’s first Atelier game, so that’s where we begin our journey.

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New Game Plus: End of Summer – Atelier Rorona DX #12

Summer’s drawing to a close in Arland just as it’s starting to get nice and warm for springtime here in the UK.

Today our brave little alchemist takes on her toughest challenge yet: dealing with a comic misunderstanding involving a gentleman friend and her parents! Oh no!

She also does a bit of alchemy and indulges in the usual Puni abuse. She does still have a job to do, after all…

Death end re;Quest: Down the Rabbit Hole

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Death end re;Quest, in keeping with the rest of Compile Heart’s Galapagos RPG project, is an ambitious and rather unusual affair from a narrative perspective.

The setup for the game is pure isekai, but almost immediately after actually starting the game for the first time, you’ll come to realise that there’s much more going on here — a really interesting blend of genres and styles that makes good use of its medium to tell a story and raise some intriguing questions.

Let’s take a closer look.

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New Game Plus: Time On Our Hands – Atelier Rorona DX #4

Whew! Even with the chaotic week I’ve had (including a brief period of complete computer failure last weekend) I managed to get all my usual videos out on time. Go me.

As always (well, usually, anyway), Friday plays host to New Game Plus, our weekly exploration of post-game content and New Game Plus modes. Currently, we’re doing a second playthrough of Atelier Rorona DX, part of the Atelier Arland trilogy we’ve recently explored here on MoeGamer.

Hit the jump to find out how today’s alchemical efforts went!

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Atelier Totori: Arland’s Middle Child

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Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, the second installment in Atelier’s Arland trilogy, is in that unenviable position that all “middle children” end up in — perhaps more so than most.

Originally offering considerable improvements over Atelier Rorona’s first incarnation — particularly in the graphical and mechanical departments — Gust’s tendency to put out “Plus” versions for its Atelier games means that Totori has ended up, in some respects, now being the most dated of the Arland trilogy even once it, in turn, got its own “Plus” and “DX” rereleases, the most recent of which is on PlayStation 4, Switch and PC.

This isn’t to say Totori is a bad game, mind you — far from it. Just… don’t take anything for granted! Let’s have a closer look.

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