Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is the newest game in the Atelier franchise and the first in the new Dusk Trilogy. The game introduces us to a new cast of characters, enemies, and a new land to explore. This is the series fourth entry on PS3 and the first for the series new publisher, Tecmo Koei.
The Atelier franchise is a series of JRPG games created by GUST and previously published by NIS America that revolves around alchemy. The game is a mixture of synthesizing items using alchemy, accomplishing the goal of the main storyline, helping your friends, and turn-based battles.
The story this time around has a much more down-and-out feel to it then previous games. The world is drying up and decaying, people are struggling to make a living and survive, and death is a reality. Ayesha who has been living alone and running her medicine shop finds out that her sister Nio who has been missing (and assumed dead) for three years may possibly still be alive. From an unknown stranger she finds out that only through hard work and alchemy does she have any hopes of locating and rescuing her. To accomplish all of this Ayesha has three years to learn about alchemy and locate Nio. She sets out on a journey across Dusk to learn the truth with her trustworthy cow, Pana and the friends she makes along the way.
The game revolves around meeting the story’s main goal by completing delivery requests, synthesizing items using alchemy, gathering items to use in the alchemy recipes, battling monsters in turn based battles in the various areas you unlock and learning the truth about your sister. Throughout the game you are able to upgrade your party’s weapons and armor through synthesizing whetstones and dyes. Characters stats are enhanced by the quality of the goods you use in synthesizing.
You are always in control of Ayesha, but have many options for who you want to fight alongside you in battle. Only two other adventurers can join your party, but you can switch them out whenever you meet them in their home town. Battles consist of choosing if you will attack, use an item or skill, guarding, or fleeing. There are various skill attacks and special attacks that open up for each party member.
Most delivery quests consist of creating requested items for townsfolk in the major cities of the game. Each party member has their own storyline and a set of quests to achieve to unlock their ending in the game. Ayesha can also participate in the Treasure Contest that occurs twice a year to gain various rewards. There is also a Bazaar held once a month where you can find rare materials for your alchemy recipes and each of your followers have a booth set up during this event.
One of the new features added to this time around is Ayesha’s Memory Diary. Major events of the game are accomplished through certain goals that unlock a memory. Using memory points that you acquire through quests, goals, and various other methods, Ayesha is able to unlock new abilities and stat increases for herself.
As in the Arland trilogy, this one includes the beautiful settings all done in cel-shaded anime style graphics. Characters are all designed in an anime style and their personalities shine through during the conversation bits and art used for main story quest conclusions. The graphics, at times seem a bit too bright, cheerful, and colorful for the main theme of the story, but this style has always fit the series well.
The music is much deeper and emotional sounding due to the game’s main storyline. The music features a mixture of vocals, recorder music, guitar rifts by Dani, and the standard harmonies you usually see in the Atelier series. Composers Daisuke Achiwa, Kazuki Yanagawa, Yu Shimoda, Georges Bizet did an amazing job with the variations of the music and choosing which music fits well in what section or area of the game. I would have to say that my three favorite songs to listen to are Maria (which uses onomatopeia lyrics), Altair, and Yesterday’s Enemy is Today’s Ingredient, but I will be purchasing the entire soundtrack on CD. Players are able to change the various types of music in the music menu. One of the unique things is that you can choose music from the previous trilogy, so if you had a favorite workshop theme you can choose it. The music can get a bit repetitive at times, but that is where being able to change it comes in handy. Every area, shop, and battle has a different theme, so there are many delightful and emotional songs to choose from.
The game has various endings due to the events of the game and your friends story quests. There are 39 different trophies to achieve, so multiple play-throughs is something that is very much expected in this series. Endings are based on what you achieve in the game and how you achieve it, so it may take more than one try to get all trophies. The game takes about 25-30 hours to complete, and is well worth playing through again. When starting a new game+, the equipment that your characters are currently wearing and your money carry over.
Personal Thoughts & Conclusion
Atelier Ayesha is an interesting start to the new trilogy, but is also a rough one. For some reason GUST decided to go back to the three year mark on completing the game, from five years that the previous two titles had. Now this may be their formula for trilogies, since Rorona was also three years and was the first game in the Arland trilogy.
I do have to say that Tecmo Koei needs to step up their PR on the next game as the overwhelming feeling from the Atelier Community is that they don’t seem very interested in making sure this series continues to sell in the Western market. We received no English version of the website, the marketing of the game was very laid back, and it appears that not a whole lot of people were aware that the game was being released in the Western market territories. I know the publishing reins were handed over to them since they were the ones to acquire GUST, but they need to realize that this franchise has a loyal following here in the US. Another unforgivable mistake they made is not having the option for the Japanese Voice Track, which is one of the features that many of us JRPGers look forward to.
Atelier Ayesha is a new start, so those gamers who have never played any of the previous games in the franchise will have no problem picking this game up and understanding all the features. I thoroughly enjoyed my first play through of the game and am getting ready to start my second, so I can accomplish some of the follower endings I didn’t have time for in my first play through. I am already craving and awaiting the announcement of the next game in the trilogy and meeting the new characters.
FINAL SCORE: 8.0
“This is another great addition to the Atelier franchise and an interesting start to the new trilogy! The characters were fun and charming, the storyline was very different from previous entries, and the cows saying “OINK MOO” kept me smiling through the entire game!”