Tag Archives: mechanics

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Alchemist

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There’s a recurring theme throughout Atelier games: the idea that alchemy isn’t inherently “good” or “evil”, but that its value to society is determined by how its practitioners make use of it.

This is most commonly explored through the means of Atelier protagonists deciding that they want to make use of their talents and skills to help people around them — and Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is no exception to that rule.

The big difference in Atelier Firis, of course, is that rather than being centred on a single location as in many other Atelier games, our heroine is instead on the move, hoping to eventually reach a final destination in order to prove herself. So let’s take a closer look at what that means for the overall game structure.

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Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Atelier Hits the Open Road

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The Atelier series, as we’ve seen numerous times over the course of its complete length, is not one to sit still for long — even within the scope of a single subseries.

Despite this, Atelier games have always managed to establish a sense of coherence between different installments — even when they might appear, at first glance, to be radically different from one another.

Such is the case with the second of the Mysterious trilogy — Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey may initially appear markedly different from its immediate predecessor Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Bookbut the more you spend time with it, the more you’ll realise there are some interesting elements in common amid all that seeming change.

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Classic-Style Combat

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One of the recurring things that has come up time and time again as we’ve been looking at Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is how this game very consciously does things differently from what has come before.

It’s evident in the overall structure of the game and the way its story is told; it’s evident in the alchemy mechanics; it’s even evident in the art style, though this generally varies from subseries to subseries anyway.

And, of course, it’s evident in the combat system. This is a particularly interesting aspect of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book to analyse in detail, because superficially its combat mechanics might resemble the last six games in the series to one degree or another — but in fact, things unfold quite differently. Let’s explore!

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Stirring the Pot

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As is tradition for the series at this point, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book shakes things up considerably when it comes to its core alchemy mechanics.

And again in keeping with past installments, the reinvention isn’t so radical that it feels incongruous with the rest of the series, but it’s distinctive enough to make Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book stand out nicely amid its many, many peers.

So today let’s take a closer look at that alchemy system — along with how the people around the town of Kirchen Bell can help out with your studies!

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Alchemist on the Road

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Having taken a high-level look at Atelier Sophie’s place in the series and its overall game structure, it’s time to look more specifically at the way it does certain things.

In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we’re going to take a look at what Sophie gets up to when she leaves the safety of her hometown Kirchen Bell and heads out into the big, wide world. As we’ve seen elsewhere in the Atelier series, exploring and gathering ingredients is an important part of an alchemist’s lifestyle — and Sophie’s life as depicted in Atelier Sophie is certainly no exception in that regard.

So empty that Basket and throw on those gathering gloves — it’s time to hit the road!

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Getting Into Role

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What, exactly, is an “RPG” anyway? The term covers such a broad spectrum of different game types these days that it’s fast becoming less useful than it once was — and yet it’s still understood by many people to mean a few things.

Growth in power over the duration of the story; strength, competence and other things that can grow (and shrink!) represented as numerical values; abstract mechanics that represent things which would be difficult to simulate “realistically”. All of these are pretty constant, regardless of what type of RPG you’re playing.

But the approach to story — and indeed the main “point” of the experience — varies wildly from game to game. And with Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, we see a game with a noticeably different feel to many of the titles that have come before in the Atelier series.

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Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – Once, Twice, Two Times a Shallie

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Over the course of the Atelier series as a whole, we’ve seen Gust take on the challenge of making a meaningful New Game Plus experience several times.

In a lot of role-playing games, a New Game Plus is primarily a means of enjoying the game’s story again without having to worry too much about mechanics; in some cases there are powerful enemies or additional challenges not seen on a first playthrough, but more often than not New Game Plus is a fun extra that not everyone feels the need to take advantage of in order to feel like they’ve “beaten” the game.

In Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, however, much like Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky and Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy before it, there’s great value in taking the time to play through the game with both its main protagonists — and this time around we have one of the most solidly implemented New Game Plus systems the series has seen to date.

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Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – The Art of Shalchemy

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It would have been easy for the Atelier series to just stick with one alchemy system and trot it out for every new installment. And people would have probably been fine if Gust had chosen to keep the exact same alchemy system for all the games in each of the franchise’s subseries.

But as we’ve seen numerous times by this point, that isn’t how Gust does things. Gust likes to experiment, refine, reinvent and occasionally revisit past ideas, all in the name of providing an interesting and varied experience — say, for anyone undertaking some sort of ridiculous mission like playing all of the Atelier games one after another.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is one of those installments where Gust decided to reinvent the alchemy mechanics, rather than refining the systems we’d previously seen in Atelier Escha & Logy and Atelier Ayesha. And it presents us with an interesting new angle to this aspect of gameplay.

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Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – What a Girl Wants

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Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea draws a number of cues from past Atelier games in terms of its overall game structure and execution — and indeed the way it does things can also be traced forward to some of Gust’s other games such as Blue Reflection.

For those who have played the previous games in the Atelier series, Atelier Shallie most closely resembles Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm in terms of structure — though with a few twists here and there. While Gust aren’t afraid to return to what worked previously, it’s very rare that they will simply recreate it wholesale without any changes.

It’s that game structure we’ll be taking a look at in this part of our exploration of the series as a whole.

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Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Battles at the End of the World

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While, as we’ve already seen, much of Escha and Logy’s time in their own game is spent living the corporate life and doing things that other people tell them to do, there are times when the pair of them have to take their own initiative.

We’ve already looked at how this works inside their workshop; today it’s time to take a closer look at their work out in the field, and particularly at how they fend off the foes they encounter during their investigations.

Yep, it’s combat time again; make sure you’ve got a basket full of bombs, ’cause we’re going to be out for a while!

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