Tag Archives: RPG

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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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 13: Atelier Sophie – The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

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It’s time once again to enjoy the wonderful work that Gust’s sound team puts into its flagship series — this time with the excellent music from Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book.

Atelier Sophie’s soundtrack is a pretty substantial one, consisting of 94 tracks in total — and as such, there were a fair few people working on it. Series mainstays Kazuki Yanagawa and Daisuke Achiwa return as always, as does Hayato Asano, who had gradually been becoming more prominent not just in the Atelier games, but in Gust’s work in general up until this point.

They’re joined by contributions from Ryudai Abe, Yu Shimoda, Miyoko Kobayashi and RURUTIA. So let’s take a moment to go through some favourite tracks — and if you picked up the physical release of the complete Mysterious Trilogy from Play-Asia, don’t forget you can download the full soundtracks with your serial codes until April 21, 2024!

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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 – 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 Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – First Steps in a Mysterious New World

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After how beloved the Dusk subseries of Atelier has become over the years, how could Gust possibly follow that up?

By doing what they’ve always done, of course: completely reinventing the series and kicking off a whole new set of games. Doing so doesn’t stop the Dusk series from existing, after all — and it also prevents the series from stagnating. Not that it was ever at any risk of doing that anyway, given how much we’ve seen it varies between individual installments!

In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we’ll be taking a high-level look at the first game in the Mysterious trilogy, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. Where did this game come from, what was the thinking behind certain aspects of its design — and what do we have to look forward to?

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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 Fight for a Dying World

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So far, we’ve seen that Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is an interesting installment in the Atelier series as a whole, in that it explores brand new elements while simultaneously calling back to some of the series’ best bits.

One of the most obvious places it looks back at past successes is the gameplay when you step outside the city walls of Stellard and head off into the big, wide world. But even then, it doesn’t just rehash what has come before; it adds its own interesting twists on the formula to create something unique and distinct to Atelier Shallie.

Let’s take a closer look at the game’s combat and exploration mechanics, then, as we get closer and closer to the truth behind the world of Dusk.

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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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