Tag Archives: narrative

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Have You Any Dreams You’d Like to Sell?

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is a story about dreams. It’s a story about ambition. And it’s a story about learning to have trust and faith in your own abilities.

While, as we’ve previously explored, the game takes a deliberately “directionless” approach to its early hours, these themes are nonetheless apparent from the very beginning of the game. And they’re explored not only through our heroine Sophie herself, but through many of the other characters, too.

So let’s take a closer look at the narrative, themes and characterisation of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, and ponder how these characters grow and change over the course of their respective journeys.

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Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – A Socratic Paradox

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And so it is that we come to the end of one of the most beloved subseries in the entire history of Atelier. Every Atelier fan has their favourite installments, but it seems everyone has a lot of time for the Dusk series as a whole.

With that in mind, it seems fitting to bid farewell to this part of the series with a look at how Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea wraps things up after your second playthrough — and what all this has meant for our journey as a whole.

After that, it’s time to explore brave — some might say Mysterious — new frontiers, but that’s a story for another day!

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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 Kindness of Strangers

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Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is the final chapter in the Dusk trilogy. Whether or not we’ll see a later fourth installment a la Atelier Lulua remains to be seen, but for now, this is where it all ends.

As such, Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is a game that brings together a series of interesting narrative threads from over the course of the trilogy as a whole — including some that began way back in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk. So while the story stands by itself and many of its mechanics are a lot more accessible to series newcomers, the game is best experienced in context as the conclusion of the Dusk storyline.

Like Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky before it, though, you’ll need to play through as both protagonists to get the full story. So let’s start with a look at the main narrative you’ll experience first time around in the game if you pick Shallistera as your protagonist, then.

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Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

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Any time a substantial game with multiple playable protagonists comes up, there are, inevitably, a few questions which people want answers to.

Firstly: is the game worth playing through multiple times from the perspective of those multiple protagonists? Secondly, does the game make it convenient to do so? And thirdly, is the payoff for the effort, however much it might be, worth it?

Since Atelier Escha & Logy allows you the chance to play as either of its eponymous protagonists, all of these questions are, of course, relevant — so that’s what we’re going to be looking at today.

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Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Together We’re Stronger

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As time has gone on, the focus of the narratives in the Atelier series has changed somewhat — and it’s gone back and forth between dramatic, world-saving narratives and more personal affairs.

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is an interesting one, in that it has elements of both in there. Of course, the very nature of the Dusk setting suggests that we may well be looking at a world that is already beyond “saving” in its entirety — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people can’t make a difference in smaller areas of that world.

And, as we’ve seen throughout the Atelier series as a whole, no-one is better-placed to make a difference — for better or worse — than your friendly neighbourhood alchemists.

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Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – Corporate Alchemy

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After the emotional journey that was Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky followed a year later. This time we were promised a pair of playable protagonists — something we hadn’t seen in the series since Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy.

This time around the two “paths” through the game are less noticeably different from one another than they were in Mana Khemia 2, due to the fact that the two protagonists spend most of their time alongside one another. It’s still worth playing both routes, however, as not only do you get to “hear” the innermost thoughts of each protagonist in their own respective route, there are some endings that can only be seen by one protagonist or the other.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves! What exactly is Atelier Escha & Logy, and how does it fit in to the Atelier series as a whole? Read on and let’s find out together.

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Waifu Wednesday: Bubbles

I recently played through an interesting Taiwanese game called Food Girls. It’s a visual novel combined with a management sim about rescuing a street market from closure and demolition. You can read more about it in my feature over on Rice Digital; there’ll be more about it here when I’ve done a few more playthroughs!

As you might expect from the name, Food Girls primarily focuses on your relationships with the vendors who call the street market home. As you develop those relationships — and train up their important skills to ensure they’re making profit — you learn more about them.

For my first playthrough, I mostly focused on the tsundere bubble tea shop owner Bubbles. What can I say? I have a type. (I have multiple types, as it happens, but tsundere is a particular weak point.) So let’s take a closer look!

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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Bonds of People

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As we’ve already discussed to a certain extent, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk kicks off an Atelier subseries with a noticeably different feel to its predecessors.

While the Arland series was, on the whole, very positive in tone — the more melancholic aspects of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland aside — the Dusk series emphasises the feeling that all is not well in this “world that is heading for destruction”, as Gust themselves put it.

And that feeling doesn’t just extend to the overall worldview of Atelier Ayesha, either; it infuses the core narrative and provides it with a very distinctive, highly emotional and deeply memorable feel. Let’s take a closer look.

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Waifu Wednesday: Lenna Charlotte Tycoon

Final Fantasy V, despite being one of the most mechanically solid installments in the series, doesn’t get a ton of love — partly because it got localised very late; partly because the quality of those localisations has varied considerably over time; and partly because in the grand scheme of the franchise as a whole, it’s comparatively bastard hard.

After many, many years of saying “I should probably beat Final Fantasy V sometime”, I am finally working on that goal — specifically by playing it on my totally normal, pristine and absolutely definitely completely stock PlayStation Classic that my brother rather generously bought me for Christmas. (More on all that another day, I feel.) And I thought Lenna — or “Reina” as she’s called in the version of Final Fantasy V I’m playing — was deserving of some love.

So let’s give her some love. Our pink-haired princess is one of Final Fantasy’s most capable heroines, so it’s high time she saw some appreciation, I say!

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