A new installment in the Atelier series has been released, and I didn’t know if Koei and Gust Co could top Atelier Escha and Logy. While Atelier Shallie isn’t as good as E&L, it’s still a solid entry into the series. The latest offering uses most of the familiar mechanics from the previous game, but what makes this game interesting is not the gameplay, but the art.
It has been 10 years since the events of Atelier Ayesha and 6 years after the start of Escha and Logy. Water is becoming more and more scarce in a small oasis town. Plants are dying and animals are going without water. This game has two heroines: Shallistera and Shallotte who are alchemists, both with very different lives. Both stories reveal different aspects of the world you are playing in. Shallistera will reveal the truths of the Dusk Sea and why the water is drying up. Shallotte’s story is a bit more average depicting everyday life in her city.
The stories are incredibly different and I love that about this game. It genuinely shows how two people can have different experiences while living in the same town. Gameplay wise, the characters have their own skills to use in the field. Shallotte has a broom so she can clean up messes throughout the world and discover new items, while Shallistera can dowse for rare items. Choosing which character to use is entirely up to the player and there isn’t a preferred “way to play”. This is a game with natural replay value. It doesn’t feel forced at all.
There are some deviations from the previous games in terms of alchemy, combat, and the way missions are handled. All of it is relatively positive. Alchemy feels less like a necessity in this game. You are unhindered by nearly impossible deadlines like previous titles. You can play at your own pace and I can finally enjoy the game and take in the sites and art. Combat has been toned down a bit from the previous game and it feels less complicated, or deep. Part of me was disappointed, but the simplicity fits the game smoothly.
Environments are bigger, the items to gather are more varied, and there is even more stuff to make. That being said, the pacing is still rather slow and the ability to make weapons and armor for your party is gained too late in the game. Missions are also handled different besides the exclusion of deadlines. There is a new Life Task system that rewards you with items and EXP upon completion. Tasks range from killing certain enemies to creating specific items with unique traits. There’s a lot to accomplish but as I said before, everything is at your own pace.
What really drew me into this game was the art. As per usual, the outfits all of the characters wear are amazing, but what I really like is how different they are compared to other Atelier games. The “Dusk” trilogy is a growing world for the Atelier series, and Shallie adds an entirely new environment. Visually, this is probably the best Atelier game in terms of art direction.
While it lacks gameplay variety and unpredictability. It makes up for being one of the more original JRPGs on the market. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is well worth your time if you love JRPGs. You can pick it up exclusively on the PS3.