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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Review

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Review

For the past couple years now, Gust's Atelier series has been somewhat of an annual event for JRPG and item crafting fans on the PS3. The Arland trilogy, which consists of Atelier Rorona, Totori and Meruru, each built on their predecessor and were each interlinked with one another through their interconnected stories. The newest entry in the franchise, Atelier Ayesha, carries on the mix of Japanese RPH elements and item crafting but with an entirely new world separated from the familiar location of Arland that series veterans have come to know and love. Is this separation a good thing? In some ways yes and in some ways no.

Atelier Ayesha starts the lonely apothecary Ayesha, who lives alone in her workshop making a meager living selling medicine to the local travelling merchant following the death of her younger sister, Nio. Unlike the more upbeat tone of the game's predecessors, Atelier Ayesha's world, Dusk, is full of broken ruins and barren stretches of wasteland due to the misuse of alchemy long ago. Things change when she sees a vision of her sister above a garden of glowing flowers when visiting her grave. A traveling alchemist informs Ayesha that her sister isn't dead but is instead “missing”, without giving any more information. Giving her life purpose for the first time in years, Ayesha vows to save Nio.

As can be seen above, for those who played the previous games this is already an improvement over the previous titles in tone and shift. There's still a number of more lighthearted scenes with some quite humorous dialogue, but the overall arching definitely motivates the player to see it through to completion. Atelier Ayesha's eventual conclusion is a nice bookend for the game and there's ten different endings for the player to encounter depending on their choices throughout the game. The new cast of characters debuting in Atelier Ayesha also help to flesh out the story, although Ayesha herself is initially grating as she doesn't grow much of a backbone till later in the game as she becomes more confident.

Like the previous PS3 Atelier games, Ayesha is split into two parts: item synthesis and exploration/combat. The two systems work together as Ayesha has to fight enemies and gather ingredients in order to create items. These items in turn are used to fulfill requests, advance the storyline and help out during combat. One nice touch to the synthesis system is that the player can make things as complicated or uncomplicated as they want, although higher-quality items are more advantageous in battle and help satisfy requests faster.

Unlike the Arland trilogy, however, requests in Ayesha have to be tracked down manually instead of through a unified hub. This is further complicated by the fact that there's no in-game quest log to refer to, so players will end up going back and forth to keep track of requests. Thankfully Ayesha maps a quick travel option to the Start button, but it's still not a worthy substitute to a proper tracking system. Also, oddly enough Ayesha can't craft equipment, instead only be able to strengthen equipment randomly dropped from enemies using whetstones and dyes.

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