Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Review

By Shawn Collier on February 26, 2017

In 2015, we reviewed the PS3 version of Koei Tecmo and Gust’s Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea. The last game in the Dusk trilogy (the third in said trilogy), it continued the series trend of moving away from the more chibi-style character designers in favor of more adult and mature designs. And like most of Gust’s PS3 Atelier releases, once again we have another Vita port of the PS3 release. So how does this stack up alongside the other prior ports and the original source material?

Atelier Ayesha took the series in a more mature direction. Atelier Escha & Logy allowed players to partake in either the alchemy and item creation aspects the series is known for, but also added the ability for players to have a more “normal” RPG experience through the male character Logy who favored exploration over item creation. Atelier Shallie plays like a merger of the two prior games as both of the two playable characters involve alchemy and it’s more of a question of which kind of character you prefer than based off gameplay. Does that work in practice? That answer is yes.

The “Shallie” part of the title comes from the fact that both of the main playable female characters in Atelier Shallie share the same nickname. Shallistera, the future chieftain of a remote tribal village, is in search of a solution to her village’s dwindling water supply, as the world’s ocean has become known as the “Dusk Sea” due to becoming a dry basin that only welcomes monsters. The other “Shallie”, Shallotte, is a trash picker who is aimlessly in search of her dream. After the initial prologue chapter where you are introduced to both girls, you are given the choice of picking one of them to play as full-time for the rest of the game.

While the two girls’ stories intersect each other at certain points during the game, the focus on one of them specifically, based off your decision, lets the player learn more about their own inner struggles and motivations. The Atelier series has never been about romance and that stays the course in Atelier Shallie, as the narrative focuses on the world itself and the two female protagonists trying to make their own way in the world. It’s one of the charms I’ve liked about the series as it’s unique in a sea of Japanese RPGs who fall on the tired romance trope and don’t do anything unique with it.

One thing that this enhanced port does rectify is the additional story material, which comes in the form of both additional character exposition and explaining more regarding the Dusk, which wasn’t really answered all that well in the original. Ayesha and Logy also are playable characters now and are woven into the story proper, and all of the DLC characters from the PS3 version are also carried over as well as the additional DLC dungeons and bosses.

Another thing of note, which I mentioned in my original review, is that Koei Tecmo fixed many of the translation mistakes present in the original PS3 release, so it’s nice to see that they listened to the fans and rectified that issue in this later release.

Unfortunately, like some of the other prior Plus ports to the Vita, Atelier Shallie Plus has the same framerate issue cropping up once again. Players will see this right away as soon as they enter the starting town, and while it never freezes the game outright it’s still unfortunate to see the issue appearing once again.

Final Thoughts

Graphically there’s some minor downgrades in terms of the environments at large, with some graphical touches and effects either removed or lightened to reduce strain on the engine, but the models themselves are still of a high quality and this tends to cause an issue when many people are on screen. However, a large amount of your time in-game is spent in the atelier where this isn’t an issue.
If you’re a newcomer to the series, I’d recommend you to start with Atelier Ayesha first as this game is the third of the Dusk sub-series and you’d be out-of-the-loop for the most part. But if you never picked up Atelier Shallie or were a fan and wanted more, if you can get past the frame rate issues this is a worthwhile purchase for your Vita.

Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea was reviewed using a digital copy provided by Koei Tecmo Games. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
Removing the time limit in favor of letting the player naturally progress makes things much more smoother.
The new additional characters and story content is woven well into the pre-existing narrative and doesn't feel tacked on.
The new additional characters and story content is woven well into the pre-existing narrative and doesn't feel tacked on.
More slowdown issues than the original game, as the engine taxes the Vita more so than the PS3.
If you wanted more out of the game than additional characters, narrative and content, that's about all this port adds to the mix.
Those who dislike the alchemy portions of the game won't find any differences here from past games in the series.
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