Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, is latest entry in the Atelier series and the portable version the PS3 game. It is the third entry in the Dusk trilogy taking place 10 years after Atelier Ayesha and 6 years after Atelier Escha & Logy. The PS Vita version also comes with all previously available DLC. The game is split between two protagonists, one of which you will pick after the prologue chapter. For the purposes of this review, we played through Shallotte’s story.
Atelier Shallie is the story of two girls, both named Shallie, and their journey to save the world. The world has gone dry. The only place left with water is the grand oasis of Stellard. Shallistera, the princess of Lugion, sets out with her friend Kortes and his father in order to save her village from demise. Shallotte, a novice alchemist who lives in Stellard, dreams of making it rich as an alchemist doing…something with her life with the support from her mother and best friend. Despite being the third entry in a trilogy, the story itself seems self contained and playing of the previous entries doesn’t seem like a necessity, yet.
Atelier Shallie is a turn based rpg, which is pretty refreshing in these days of action, real time battle rpgs. Shallotte seems to be the only one that can use items while the other teammates have various skills in place of the item command. On the side of the battle screen you can see the turn order. This is extremely helpful in determining which enemy to attack. You find various enemies in different locations on the map, with each location taking up one area. Each area has at least two points to exit back to the world map. Exiting from any other point in the area will unlock further locations on the map to explore.
The game also has some dungeon crawler mechanics where, as you are exploring the world, you must also collect different materials. These materials are extremely important as you will need them for both synthesizing items and for completing requests. You can, however, only carry a certain amount of items before you have to start dropping items. Once returning home, any items you obtain will be placed inside your container for storage.
From Shallotte’s home, you can use the cauldron to synthesize items. Basically, once you have collected a good amount of resources, you can combine certain items together to create usable items or equipment. Each resource can have up to four attributes, and you can assign certain synthesis skills to each item that corresponds with that item’s attribute. These skills can bump up the effectiveness of the created item or even increase the amount of items you get after synthesis. Synthesizing items is the only way, at least from what I’ve played, to obtain healing items. You can also synthesize crafting materials that you can use to create equipment. Some of the requests you can take will require synthesized items. The request system I felt made the game very tedious and repetitive as it seemed like that is all I was doing. Requests range from finding items or resources to killing a certain amount of a certain monster. Since synthesizing seems to be the only way to obtain healing items, there is quite a bit of going back into Stellard to replenish your health and magic points (and dropping off your loot) and going back into the field, since the healing items you synthesize don’t seem to heal much. The first few chapters seemed like all I was doing was request after request after request and really made me not want to continue further.
Graphically the game looks great, which isn’t surprising since Atelier Shallie was originally a Playstation 3 game. It does seem to push the Vita to the limit, however. During cutscenes, a lot of the animations seem quite a bit sluggish. I never played the original, though, so I could be talking out my ass. The music is fantastic as well. Some of it reminds me of the first Wild ARMS or Danganronpa, both of which are favorites of mine. It does, however, come with an assortment of tracks from the Atelier series, so if you don’t like a certain track, you can change it to your liking. The voice overs do have a few good performances, such as Raoul and Jurie, but are otherwise just ok. Not great. Not bad. Just ok. The only problem I really have with the voice overs is that they do not really flow as a conversation. This, I feel, cause much of the voices to sound stiff and boring as the dialogue seems like it was recorded text box by text box.
Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is, overall, an interesting game. The characters are likeable and the story, so far at least, is intriguing. The game itself, however, starts slow and repetitive. Maybe that is only a problem on Shallotte’s side of the game and Shallistera’s story moves faster. It could also be that I haven’t played a JRPG in a long while and they all start slow. I shouldn’t be bored to death seven-ish hours into the game, though. It is an interesting enough title that I will continue on playing, little by little, to see what happens unless the game never really picks up. Should my opinion of the game change, so shall my score.
Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
Atelier Shallie Plus, (or at least Shallotte’s story) starts off extremely slow. The characters are likable enough and the story is interesting enough that I do wish to continue. If the gameplay doesn’t pick up, however, it might be a while before I do finish it.