Tag Archives: themes

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 – 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 – 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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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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Nekopara Vol. 4: The Smiles on Everyone’s Faces

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The first three volumes of the Nekopara series each focused on a pair of the catgirls from the core cast, and explored a key message or lesson they had to learn.

In Nekopara Vol. 1, Chocola and Vanilla learn how to function independently in human society, earning their “Bells” in the process. In Vol. 2, Coconut and Azuki both come at the idea of honesty always being the best policy from slightly different angles. And in Vol. 3, Maple and Cinnamon determine that staying true to yourself is a much better way to live your life than deliberately holding yourself back, or trying to be something that you’re not.

In Vol. 4, things are a little different. This time around, the core narrative focuses on the series protagonist Kashou, who longstanding followers of the series will know has had a certain amount of conflict brewing in his heart since the very beginning. It’s time for him to finally figure out some answers.

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Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – Give Me A Reason to Live

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The nice thing about the original Arland trilogy is that although there was definitely a sense of narrative progression over the course of the three games, each one was self-contained and left things open-ended for future development; there was no “grand finale”.

That’s where Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland comes in, of course. The fact that Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland concluded the story of Meruru’s growth into a talented young alchemist, but didn’t spell any sort of “finality” for the Arland region meant that there was still plenty of scope to tell more stories in these pastel-coloured lands. Perhaps some sort of story that answers a few unresolved questions from the original trilogy — and which lets us see how all our favourite characters are getting along?

Atelier Lulua still doesn’t necessarily feel like a “finale”; if anything it ushers in a bold new era for Arland. Whether or not we’ll see any more games in this setting remains to be seen at the time of writing, but for now, Atelier Lulua provides an interesting, substantial story to tie things together nicely. So let’s take a closer look — bearing in mind that, of course, there will be spoilers ahead.

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Royal Responsibilities

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We’ve previously seen how the other games in the Arland series have tended towards being “coming of age” stories; Rorona learned how to respect the balance between tradition and modernity while learning to believe in herself, while Totori endured a more gruelling journey to adulthood than most!

With Meruru’s inherent position of privilege at the outset of the story, she’s obviously coming to her adolescence from a rather different starting point than her two predecessors did. But she’s still got plenty to learn about herself, the things she believes in, the things important to her and, of course, her place in the big, wide world.

Will she grow into the role of a “proper” princess by the time she hits twenty years old? Of course not, she’s got far too much work to be getting on with between now and then…

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Waifu Wednesday: Mitsuru Kirijo

With this week’s podcast celebrating the wonder that is the PlayStation 2, it’s only fitting that for Waifu Wednesday this week we look back on a classic character who made her first appearance in a PS2 game.

Yes, this week it’s the turn of Mitsuru Kirijo from Persona 3, the game that established the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff’s current format. She’s a consistently popular character from Persona 3’s core cast, and has put in appearances in several other games from the series over the years, too — including Persona 4, Persona Q, Persona 4 Arena and Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight.

Better get your grades up, though; Mitsuru doesn’t hang out with anyone who isn’t a Genius, remember…

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Waifu Wednesday: Hanna Olses

Many installments in the Atelier series involve getting to know the shopkeepers of the realm as friends and confidants, not just people who sell you stuff.

After all, a good alchemist always needs plenty of ingredients — and if you have a good buddy happy to slip you a few freebies now and again, then everyone’s a winner, right? Particularly if your alchemy is making life better for the kingdom as a whole.

Such is the relationship between the titular princess from Atelier Meruru and her good friend Hanna, the latter of whom lives a fruitful life alternating between picking any old crap up off the side of the road, and selling said crap to any passing mug.

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