After a year of staying indoors and discovering a new found love for both anime and laid-back games, imagine my excitement when I got the opportunity to review Atelier Mysterious DX. Admittedly, I’d never heard of the series before, but just like with Bravely Default II I’m ready to take the plunge into this kawaii goodness. Both the Trilogy and the three individual games will be released on April 22nd. Read on to learn more about your new JRPG-addiction.
|Buy if||Not for you if|
|– You like cute JRPGs|
– Are looking for a laid-back and light-hearted game
– Enjoy crafting items and gathering materials
|– You are looking for an engaging story and challenging combat|
– You don’t like kawaii girls
– Overall graphics need to be state-of-the-art for you
The Atelier franchise has been around since 1997, since then 22 unique titles have been released together with some spin-offs. Those titles are then divided into sub-series. In this article we are looking at the Mysterious series, but others are: Salburg, Gramnad, Iris, Mana Khemia, Arland, Dusk and Secret. The games can be considered pretty niche, but have gained a considerable amount of popularity with the release of Atelier Ryza in 2019. The sequel to which came out in January 2021.
New players are definitely getting treated this year with the re-release of the Mysterious series on April 22nd. It seems like the perfect time to give some extra attention to other recent titles and introduce them to the new player base. But even for veterans there’s reason to play the new Atelier Mysterious DX games, since every game in the series has gotten some new content. We’ll cover the details later on.
The first title of the Atelier Mysterious series is Atelier Sophie, which originally released in 2015 on PlayStation and PC. The next title, Atelier Firis, followed one year later on the same platforms. The third and final title Atelier Lydie & Suelle was released yet another year later, but this time also for the Nintendo Switch. That seems a good move since it’s always been a popular game on handheld consoles and the platform has a good JRPG-fanbase. Since then every new title has been released on PlayStation, PC and the Nintendo Switch.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy
What’s definitely interesting is that the first two titles of the Mysterious-series are now brought to the Nintendo Switch as well. Each title will be sold individually for € 39,99 (Deluxe editions with DLC and digital art book with sound track included!), but they are also released as the full trilogy for € 89,99. That can save you some money if you want to play them all. It takes about 40 hours to complete each one, but players tend to put in even more hours after the main story. I know what you’re thinking: but do I have to play the entire series to enjoy the story? What if I haven’t played any of the previous series either?
No worries! Although they are similar in regards to general gameplay, each game has its own plot and story line. That being said there is some inter-connectivity between the various games in the same series, such as the stories taking place in the same world and characters reappearing. The focus and mechanics surrounding crafting and combat will also more or less be the same for each series. If you’re interested in playing the entire Atelier Mysterious series, I do recommend starting in chronological order. Sophie will namely be the one to actually teach Firis, so that only makes sense. It is however not necessary to have played eg. Atelier Sophie to be able to enjoy Atelier Firis.
You could say that the Atelier series introduced item crafting into the RPG genre. With the main theme of the games being Alchemy. As a player you control a character, usually a cute girl, explore the world to collect items to then use in alchemy to create objects. Including but not limited to potions, tools, weapons and armor. Apart from Atelier Ryza, the games include turn-based combat where you’ll definitely need those crafted items.
Story-wise every series is set in a different world, but the general feeling is the same. Most games are very “Slice of Life”, light-hearted and comedic. All text is spoken which adds a nice touch; the Atelier Mysterious games are dubbed in Japanese and English. Some games are time limited, meaning you have to reach certain objectives within a specific in-game time. Although that may sound a bit scary, it’s generally easy enough to accomplish. In Atelier Mysterious only Atelier Firis requires you to finish the game’s main objective within a certain time, after which you can play at your own pace.
Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book
Sophie Neuenmuller is a young and upcoming alchemist in the village of Kirchen Bell. She discovers Plachta, a mystical talking alchemy book. Plachta has lost most of its memories, so Sophie takes it upon her to help recover those memories by writing alchemy recipes on the blank pages. On top of that she wants to become a great alchemist capable of providing for the town. She gets help from close friends Monika and Oskar and even more allies she meets on her journey. She’ll definitely need any help she can get when she needs to fight for the fate of the world against evil alchemist Luard, who actually used to work with Plachta.
Gameplay and impressions
Considering this is a game from 2015, the graphics look pretty decent. The art style of this game is actually my favorite of the three. The NPCs in the town remind me a lot of those in Pokémon games, where they might give you hints or general gameplay advice. Moving from one area in town to the next does require a brief loading time which seems unnecessary. This is the only game where you cannot adjust the camera speed and I find it a bit annoying. I do really like the crafting system in Atelier Sophie however, which is very Tetris-like. This game takes a while to really take off story-wise, but I don’t mind it since the crafting is actually the most fun part anyway.
The game has its own date and time system, where each week consists of 5 days. During the “weekend” you’ll notice the people in the town will be doing different things. Time progresses by doing things: traveling, combat, crafting etc. This will make your “LP” drop, if it gets too low Sophie needs to sleep to restore it. You’ll also find different monsters and ingredients depending on the time of day. You can accept “Requests”, which are small jobs you need to complete. These are usually time limited, giving you eg. 20 days to complete them. So although the main story is not time-limited, you do still have to do a little time managing.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey
Atelier Firis takes place after the events in Atelier Sophie. Firis Mistlud and her older sister Liane live in the remote mining town of Ertona. Traveling alchemist Sophie visits the town and sees a lot of potential in Firis. Firis wants to set off on an adventure to take an Alchemy exam and become a certified alchemist. Her parents are not convinced, but as a compromise she gets one year to pass the exam in Reisenberg. If she fails, she returns home, but if she succeeds she can travel the world. Along the way she travels through different landscapes and earns recommendations from other alchemists. After she succeeds, she has to choose a path in life, where the player’s choices will lead to different endings.
Gameplay and impressions
With Atelier Firis you’ll notice the interface and graphics are very alike Atelier Sophie. Some improvements include the ability to “lock” quests on your map, making it a lot easier to navigate towards your next goal. The map also marks “known locations” where you can fast travel to. I do wish the game would automatically lock quests every time you complete a step. Now you have to re-lock the same quest or a new one if you completed it entirely.
Atelier Firis has a good pace from the start. Your goals are time-restricted but there’s still plenty of time to go exploring. The areas are a lot bigger without loading screens in the same towns, which very much fits the story. Firis explores the world so you will spend a lot of time in open-world areas. The crafting system in Firis has a slightly different mini-game, but remains a fun system that you will spend a lot of time playing.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings
Atelier Lydie & Suelle takes place after Atelier Firis. Twin sisters Lydie and Suelle Malen live in the city of Merveille in a small alchemy atelier with their father Roger. They want to become the kingdom’s #1 atelier, but even though they work very hard they are barely making enough to survive. One day the sisters hear a noise from the forbidden basement, upon investigation they discover a painting. The painting magically teleports them to its world. There they find tons of materials they can use in their alchemy. Once they find a way back to Merveille, they are able to craft their best item yet with their new materials. Their father forbids them from using the painting again, but they find the woman in the painting looks an awful lot like their deceased mother.
Gameplay and impressions
Atelier Lydie & Suelle still has mostly the same interface and mechanics as the others in the series, but has improved where there were still issues. The map now shows where you have quests available, and lets you fast travel to them even when you’re still inside a building. (this wasn’t the case for the fast traveling in Atelier Firis). This has honestly freed up a lot of time, because of which I feel like I covered a lot more of this game in the same amount of play time. Another great improvement is in the crafting game; you’re now able to rotate the “blocks”, making it easier altogether.
The focus on story and dialogue is a lot heavier in Atelier Lydie & Suelle. It’s also a lot more comedic, to the point where I laughed out loud quite a bit. The combat and crafting feel easier, which adds to the light-heartedness of this game and pulls the focus on the characters. There’s also no longer a need to worry about “LP”, although time managing is still required for any jobs you wish to take on. On top of that the worlds in the paintings are a nice addition with their fun designs.
DLC and New Content
The Atelier Mysterious DX contains some of the available DLC for each game and some brand new content as well. You can refer to the “DLC included”-sections on this site to see which are included exactly. Features that have been added as new content to all three titles are Digital art books and “Photo Mode”. In Photo Mode you can arrange the party members and other characters anyway you like; set the time of day including the weather; and apply filters. It will also be possible to speed up the battles at any time to better accommodate your playing style.
In Atelier Sophie DX her grandmother’s costume has been added. It comes with new scenes and episodes in which Sophie wants to become more like her grandmother who was a successful alchemist. Three new cauldrons will also be available, together with another (more grownup) costume and a “dash” function to make traveling easier.
In Atelier Firis DX four new vehicles will be available together with new exploration items throughout the story. Both aim to make said exploration more convenient. There’s even new quests to defeat no less than 7 new monsters, after which the boss Palmyra becomes more powerful.
In Atelier Lydie & Suelle DX a new painting is available. That painting will lead to the world of “Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists”. This means new scenarios and new bosses. This world will only be available after collecting all the Fragments from treasure chests in the original paintings. The new painting is a nice cross-over into this Atelier game.
The Atelier Mysterious JRPGs offer you a relaxing time, with the option to grind in combat and, more importantly, practice alchemy. I genuinely had a good time in each game. The “Slice of Life”- vibe together with the amazing music helps you unwind after a busy day. I can easily play these until I go to bed and not feel too energized to be able to fall asleep. For once I mainly played docked and did not have an issue reading things on the screen. The games are of course very suited for handheld as well; Atelier would be a great game to play while commuting to work or school.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to that’d be Atelier Lydie & Suelle. I liked the art style in Atelier Sophie together with the crafting mechanic the best. Story-wise I’m most eager to continue with Atelier Firis. Overall however Atelier Lydie & Suelle had the best pace and improved mechanics, combining all the good things Atelier Mysterious has to offer. The comedic note is a nice addition to what is already a light-hearted game. If you are into laid back and cute JRPGs, you should really check out Atelier and find which series speaks to you the most.