It is hard to believe that this Atelier installment is actually the 15th in the famous series. Atelier Escha & Logy is a Playstation exclusive with this release being the fifth entry on the PS3, and marks the second entry into the Twilight saga of the series with Atelier Ayesha being the first. This game bears the same art design and monsters as it’s predecessor and is more or less an enhanced version with many appealing added qualities thrown in to the mix. The end result is a gourmet meal for any person with a healthy appetite for Japanese Role Playing Games.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky takes place 4 years since the events of Atelier Ayesha started, and follows the story of two main characters in a land called Colseit, a remote backwater village famous for it’s Apple orchards. Escha Malier, a young apprentice in the art of alchemy, just joined the government official to help the town raise some money, generally be a good person and use her alchemy skills for a good cause. She is joined by the young Logix Ficsario who is basically a big town boy assigned into the same R&D section as Escha, pursuing his dreams and facing the hardships of his life on the frontier. The trouble is that the easy going and less modern style of Colseit will bring him more troubles than expected, especially in regards to alchemy.
What is really fascinating about this game, and the first thing that most of the series veterans will notice, is the possibility to choose between the two main protagonists, and the first time a male character is given a deep role in the Atelier universe. The story alters slightly depending on the character, and we notice a more robust male appearance in this chapter rather than the plane simple male roles of past Atelier games. This is a bold change from Gust, and one that is really welcome.
As always, the game is strikingly beautiful with beautiful cel shaded models and simple background design; you really can’t find a prettier role playing game around that looks like a living and breathing anime movie. Each character is well designed and has a great personality. The rather cute ‘Moe’ of the leading girls is pleasing fan service, so you don’t have to worry about young children playing or watching this game.
Some small touches, like the fact that Escha has a tail accessory, only add to the overall cuteness, but keep in mind tha this game has a more grainy feel than the previous chapters. Out are the bright colorful shades, and in are darker and earthy pastel look, but even with the darker tone, the game still possesses an overall jolly and cute aspect.
The voice overs are top notch as always, with a welcome addition to switch between English and Japanese voice overs. The music is charming and fits the mood of the game.
For the newcomers, the game follows the attempts of our heroes to use alchemy in order to synthesize materials needed to finish their quest. This process can be accomplished by collecting materials from areas or fallen enemies and then using in the alchemy lab; it is a rather simple job that can get a bit more taxing in case you decide to produce higher level materials. Each quest spans the time period of 4 months game time and the player can also choose to pursue other smaller tasks for extra income and experience. All and all, it is a rather fun scenario and the time limit is more than generous and poses no serious concerns.
As for the combat, the good thing is that fights are not random encounters, and you can see the enemy and may choose to step aside and ignore it. Fighting is done in traditional turn based combat and characters can have supportive roles in both offence and defense. In most cases, it is the combat in role playing games that actually make or break the game, and I am happy to say that it is very well done and feels very familiar to anyone who ever played an Atelier game before by maintaining similar grounds with some minor tweaks that only make the experience more refreshing and enjoyable.
Rarely do we get an Atelier game that isn’t a shining example of a role playing game done right. With a heart warming cast that constantly chatters on screen, cute-as-a-button character designs, a great fighting mechanism and a lot of things to do from 2 points of view, Atelier Escha &Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is no exception.
Unless you are turned off by the idea of anime inspired games and you detest Moe type characters, this game will provide you with many solid hours of gameplay with a nice story to boot, and I for once can’t wait to see the next installment of this exceptional franchise, and hope the next chapter will be a PS4 exclusive.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is a PS3 exclusive