Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg
Developer: KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD., Gust
Publisher: KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
Platforms: Windows PC, (reviewed on Steam), PlayStation 4,PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 12, 2023
Price: $49.99 USD (Regular version) 69.99 (Deluxe version)
A few weeks ago, I got handed an opportunity to review the remake for Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg, and was pleasantly surprised at how polished it is. I’ve played tons of the Atelier games for the past years I’ve been here at Niche Gamer, and i’m glad to be the go-to guy that reviews them. They’re always a treat to play and experience the work that goes into them with the finished product. I have a soft spot for them too since I love a good open-world RPG-esque game, and this one performs great in that regard.
The OG title was made in 1997, but you can’t tell unless you’re familiar with the series. As far as looks go with this remade version, it looks just as good as many other various recent titles developed by Koei Tecmo and Gust, who are arguably most well-known for their Atelier Ryza series. (I’ve reviewed almost all of those too, like I said, they’re very comfy).
I went into the game expecting an outdated UI, cumbersome menu screens, janky animations, and lackluster areas to explore due to the age of the game, but like I mentioned earlier, I was pleasantly surprised. The environment inside of and surrounding Salburg, (the game’s main city and hub) is very colorful, vibrant, and alive. It doesn’t seem to fall flat in most areas that I traversed.
Even though the game itself is quite linear in the sense of there’s a set path for a set endgame criteria, there’s still an exploitable open-world aspect. The foliage in the wooded areas looks very well-done, the seasons change in-game with each respective one reflecting the climate layout, with winter having lots of snowfall, and spring with bright green grass, flowers, and treelines. Fall brings in the changing colors of the leaves, and summer is just super-bright with tons of sunlight around every corner.
The alchemy system which has become a mainstay in pretty much all the Atelier games, is a lot more simplified in Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg. By ‘simplified’, I mean the route you take to synthesize items needed to proceed thru the story is a lot more direct. The game doesn’t hold you hand however, so don’t be fooled!
The trick to finding that perfect recipe for the item needed for whatever situation depends on proper time management, as well as keeping an eye on your MP (magic points) and FTG (fatigue points). Those two along with the time-progression mechanic makes for an interesting gameplay loop.
Another valid tactic while navigating the world of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, is to take full advantage of allies to take along while adventuring. All of them minus two mages that you attend the academy with, start off with collecting a working wage from the in-game money system. There’s also a friendship system that opens up various side-quests with each ally which reward you very handsomely, so be sure to do them as they come up!
Another nice feature of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, that definitely sets it apart from the other series titles is the NPC material gathering and recipe creation mechanic via employing ‘faeries’. You’re first introduced by one of them knocking on your atelier house door, and handing you a bracelet key item and you carry along with you to their forest home area.
You’re greeted by their village elder and then given an option to hire one as a gopher of sorts, with the most efficient ones being more pricey. They get paid a ‘wage’ per se out of the coffers your party gathers from jobs and quests completed.
The faeries can be sent to any previous biome that you’ve already visited, to gather up general materials for alchemical purposes. They can go for as long until the materials get maxed out, and then they’ll go idle until you direct them to their next task. You can also have the faeries create materials used for many recipes in bulk as well, which absolutely helps tremendously with time-management.
A key factor for Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is utilizing your limited amount of in-game days to study and become the best alchemist you can be. So far i’m about 20 hours in and haven’t really seen an overarching ”save the world” type of narrative, but that might change the more I play.
The basic premise of the game is that you are currently a student in the Magic Academy, and your marks aren’t very good. They’re actually the worst in-class so you have your work cut out for you, to say the least! Marie would very much rather be lazing around in bed as opposed to being out and about handling odd jobs for the populace.
Alchemists in this scenario are a ”jack-of-all-trades” type profession. That concept seems to be a running theme in most of the Atelier games now that I ponder about it. Alchemists aren’t taken as seriously as wizards and/or mages are due to them not being born with magic, and instead study chemicals and potions to give them the powers that they require to do their jobs as alchemists.
The in-game menus are easy to navigate with plenty of things to do, and you don’t really get ‘stuck’ often because there’s always something to do! Be it side quests, or story main quests, or secondary objectives (which are worth doing because they add nice stat buffs like defense and HP increases).
Personally so far, I’m liking this questing, alchemy, and gameplay a lot less cumbersome than the main titles are. The menus on the bigger and more complex games can be a bit overwhelming. Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is the perfect intro title to the series to get your feet wet in the Atelier universe. I sadly went backwards and got my first exposure with Atelier Ryza, which again is a lot more complex of a structured series.
Also Mu is best girl, this is non-negotiable.
So in closing, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is a definite must-play if you are a mediocre fan of open world gathering RPG type games, which if you’ve ever played any of the Atelier games, they are that and much more in spades in most cases. The shorter campaign in this one might turn some folks off who are looking for a game to sink hundreds of hours into, which realistically you can in this one, but grinding is boring, let’s get real here.
I grew up playing Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games, so I’m no stranger to grinding for levels to get past difficult areas, but in Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, it’s not THAT big of a sticking point in the game, where you’re forced to grind by fighting random encounters with monsters for subpar returns of time invested.
If anything, focusing on alchemy synthesizing and talking to people in-town, benefit you much much more and you gain levels faster.
Don’t be afraid to explore either! And keep an eye on the calendar and you’ll do fine! Happy Alchemy’ing (is that even a word? it is now.)
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is available now on PC (via Steam), PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg was reviewed on PC using a copy provided by Koei Tecmo. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here.