Koei Tecmo has re-released yet another Atelier Trilogy, this time giving the Mysterious series the ‘Deluxe’ treatment. Unlike the Arland and Dusk trilogy, this threesome is already on PlayStation 4, so it does seem a little strange that they’re being released again on the same console. However, this is now the most complete versions of the games as they include most of the DLC as well as a small amount of brand new content.
This Mysterious Trilogy consists of Atelier Sophie: Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, and Atelier Lydie and Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. If you’re not already familiar with the Atelier series then be aware that these are much more laid-back games than your typical Japanese RPGs. Instead of being on an epic quest to save the world, your time will be spent making friends, learning alchemy, gathering ingredients, and fighting any monsters that happen to stray across your path.
In Atelier Sophie the main protagonist finds a strange book in her grandmother’s workshop which starts to talk after she writes a recipe in to it. This book, called Plachta, has lost her memories and needs your help to restore them. While the story pacing is a little slow at times, there is a fantastic cast of characters who do a great job of holding your interest throughout. Every time you return to town it’s fun to just run around and chat to everyone and see if there are any new character developments.
The story in Atelier Firis is a big improvement as it has a much stronger narrative with far better pacing. Firis is a young woman who has grown up in a small mining town located underground, she’s desperate to go and explore the world outside. After discovering that she has a natural talent for alchemy she manages to persuade her parents to let her go. Of course, as with most things in life, there's a bit of a catch. She’ll need to get three letters of recommendation from renowned alchemists and also pass the alchemy license exam. If she can’t achieve this within one year then she’ll have to return home forever.
As you may have guessed, this does mean that the time limit system is back. Time moves forward whenever you perform alchemy, gather ingredients, and even when running around outside. It can definitely feel a bit stressful at first. Rest assured, however, that you should have plenty of time to pass the exam even if you do get a little side tracked while exploring. After acing the exam, the time limit is lifted and you’re free to travel around the world at whatever pace you want. This was actually the first time in the Atelier series that there was a sprawling open world structure to explore. The world still feels really dynamic, and you’ll end up wanting to explore every inch of it, so it’s great that the time limit does eventually get lifted.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle is the third game in the trilogy. Strangely, this one doesn’t have an open world to explore. The areas that you traverse are much larger than in Atelier Sophie, but it doesn’t have quite the same wow factor as Atelier Firis. On the other hand, it does get rid of the time limit system so you are at least able to explore and do as many side activities as you want without feeling constantly pressured.
This third game has the most interesting story in the trilogy, with twin sisters, Lydie and Suelle, trying to turn their alchemy workshop into the best in the kingdom. It’s a simple enough premise but the rivalry between the twins and their childhood friend, as well as all of the visiting alchemists, makes it a really entertaining tale. You’ll also be able to travel inside some mysterious alchemic paintings which is a great excuse to have lots of weird and wonderful environments to explore.
This Atelier trilogy also introduces a new process for alchemy; every ingredient has a different shape which you’ll need to place onto a grid. The order and way you place these ingredients can drastically change the quality and traits of the finished item. This alchemy system is used throughout the trilogy but each game has its own unique spin on it, adding things like catalysts and bonus panels in the later games. What this means is that, although you’ll be familiar with how alchemy works after the first game, it still feels challenging to try to master it in each instalment.
While Atelier Sophie was released on the PS4 and PS Vita only six years ago it does look a bit dated. The backgrounds look a little drab and character models are a rather plain. Atelier Firis is definitely a big step forward when compared to its predecessor, but Atelier Lydie & Suelle is easily the best of them all. It looks much more detailed and far prettier, with lots of varied environments to explore.
All three games have a turn based combat system, which is slightly different in each title. They’re all fairly simplistic but they do start to become more interesting as you gain access to new characters and abilities. Again, Atelier Lydie & Suelle does it best. Here you’ll have the ability to switch between characters in the front and back row as well as the ability to perform synthesis during battle. These additions make it a much more varied and engaging combat system.
It's also worth reiterating that most of the DLC that has previously been released is included in the Deluxe versions of the games. So, it includes things like additional costumes, music packs, and playable characters that were previously locked behind paid DLC. There are also some brand new extras thrown in. Atelier Sophie has some new cauldrons and a new outfit, Atelier Firis has new boss battles and four new vehicles, and Atelier Lydie & Suelle has a new mysterious painting to explore featuring Nelke from Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World. There is also an absolutely gorgeous digital art book for each game, as well as an in-built photo mode.
If you already own the original games as well as their DLC, then the new content in Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack is unlikely to be enough to make you want to splash out again, as none of it drastically changes the original experience. However, if this is your first time playing them, then this Atelier trilogy is fairly easy to recommend. It’s quite a varied collection, and it’s great to see the developer really experiment with the series' core gameplay mechanics. All three games will send you on a very different adventure, but each of them has a great group of characters for you to fall in love with.
Not gonna lie - this doesn't appeal to me one little bit.
How long are the games?
I've gotten into JRPG style games recently but the backlog is massive, and adding games that mega long doesn't help...and tbf won't stop me adding to the pile.
Never played these before so this is perfect for me. All 3 games for the Price of one, you can't go wrong with that.
@nicc83 they're around 30-40 hours each depending on your playstyle
Thanks for the review. I adore the Atelier series, and for some reason Firis has always been my favorite. It’s probably a combination of the more open adventure feel it has compared to previous entries and the stellar character design.
These games are definitely not for everyone, but their general good cheer and entertaining stories keep me coming back. Also, the synthesis system can become rather addictive. I’ve often stayed up way too late trying to get that last trait moved onto the right supplement to add to the right weapon, and so on.
@Jenny_Jones oh man. 3 more games going to be added to the pile!
@Amnesiac Out of all the Atelier games Rorona is my favourite one. I know the gameplay isn't as advanced as some of the later Atelier games but I just think that she's so cute!
@Jenny_Jones Rorona was definitely a lot of fun. The synthesis wasn't as complicated but it still had the time limit back then which added a bit of urgency to things. Also, lots of pies. The follow up, Totori, has wonderful characters and a more somber but engaging story, but the strictness of the time limit is cranked way up. That's the only Atelier Game where I got a bad ending for running out of time.
If it was a physical release like with the Switch i would have bought it.
@Jenny_Jones Great review,not that it encourages me to buy it as I've played the first two already and still partly way through Atelia Lydie which is by far the best out of all three!
By the way I agree with you on Rorona..definitely the best Atelia character,such a delightful personality!However it's the one Atelia game I never managed to finish.
Not gonna lie - this appeals to me quite a bit.
@RubyCarbuncle It's priced more than a single game
Is this a good game? I'm almost done with P5 Strikers and Tales of Arise couldn't come sooner.
@Flaming_Kaiser ah is it digital only? Explains why I can't find it anywhere!
@nicc83 I never understand why but you have quite a few releases like this its a pity.
And with playasia you have the exact same games that have no english on PS4 and with the Switch you do its such a baffling way to work.
Its not like its extra effort to add the language option.
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