After dipping my toe into the Atelier franchise via Atelier Ryza 2: Legend of the Secret Fairies, I got a taste of the alchemy mechanics and the universe therein. I soon jumped at the chance to review Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack.
I’ve been a fan of fetch quest heavy JRPG’s ever since I was a kid playing Final Fantasy for the first time on NES. Different franchise, but still the same core archetype of the traditional JRPG; with gaining levels, stat bonuses, and monster fighting.
In spite of the Atelier series having all this, it was often overlooked by most western players until Atelier Ryza caught everyone’s attention. Now the older Atelier Mysterious series of games has been re-released in this new bundle, did the recipe hold up even back then?
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 22nd, 2021
Price: $89.99 USD
The first game in the trilogy is Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. You start off in the happy-go-lucky alchemist Sophie’s atelier house, trying to find a recipe for a potion for a local resident. Alchemists in this series are a Jack-of-all-trades type of job where you help various residents with their issues.
An unlikely ally reveals themselves after a quick tutorial. The book Sophie used to jot down her recipe came to life, now floating and talking. The two then deduce that to figure out why a flying book exists, Sophie needs to learn more alchemy.
The story and characters are quite fun and the dialogue between them made me crack a smile numerous times. The banter in between characters in and out of main story focused areas isn’t boring at all. The characters are all unique and entertaining.
The core of the story is trying to figure out why a book is flying and talking, but also becoming an alchemist worthy of upholding Sophie’s grandma’s legacy. It has a lot of cute girls doing cute things yeah, but it does it well.
You learn alchemy recipes over the course of the game, and Sophie will jot them down to remember for later use in an old alchemy diary that her grandma passed down to her after she passed on. Gameplay is fairly simple as a JRPG can be.
You gain funds and exp by gathering materials for alchemy in various areas on the world map, and fighting monsters with an entire cast of comrades with their own unique stories and personalities. The battles are turn based with a focus on item usage to gain a competitive edge in battles.
The gameplay for all three games are fairly linear when compared to the open world of Atelier Ryza 2. The core gameplay loop of fetch questing is still present, but the Mysterious Trilogy games are simplified. Recipes are made in-game from the alchemy cauldron via a color coordinated match game, where you try to line up elements, traits, and item quality on square grids.
The battles are all turn based in traditional JRPG style. Items are used in place of magic, so there isn’t any MP to manage, just items made through alchemy. The items often will have an area-of-effect feature that makes it pertinent to watch which enemy you chuck a bomb at if you want to hit them all. The system is easy to pick up and is kinda fun.
The second game, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, puts you in the driver’s seat as the titular girl named Firis. She is a citizen of an underground society closed off from the outside world, and her job is to use her ability to “hear minerals” used to refining essential items for her home. This is a gift she was born with, and unknown in its origin
Firis’ one and only dream is to leave and see the outside world. Her parents don’t see it that way, and urge her to stay; an inevitable recipe for disaster. Firis is joined by her sister Lianne, an expert Hunter and is one of the influences on Firis’ need to see the outside world.
After the tiff with her parents, Firis runs to the only exit, surprisingly finding the previous game protagonist Sophie has blown the door off with an alchemical bomb in search of rare materials. Sophie then takes up residence in your backyard using a mobile Atelier setup, and Firis becomes her alchemy apprentice. She even begins to develop her mineral hearing ability. Pretty straightforward in that respect.
The characters are quite fleshed out and interesting, and the cameo from the previous protagonist ended up being more important than I thought it would be. Sophie is an integral part of Firis’ introduction into alchemy itself, and helps connect Firis to the world at large across both games.
The gameplay is similar to the first with the turn based battles, item usage in place of magic spells, gathering materials for alchemy, and doing fetch quests as an alchemist in training. The recipes also lack any way to bulk produce items, which tends to be a bit cumbersome. The color match game mechanic for creating items is still used when you’re at the alchemy cauldron.
Items are made using aforementioned materials that you gather. The quality, traits, and stat buffs and debuffs are all formulated in with the color matching mechanic when doing alchemy.
The game mechanics aren’t much different than in the first game far as basic JRPG style of progression; gaining exp, gathering materials, crafting or buying weapons and armor, and the like. It may seem like more of the same because well, it is. As infamously said by Todd Howard, the formula just works.
The third game, Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, puts you in the role of twin sister alchemists Lydie and Sue. After losing their alchemist mom years prior, they now live in the capital city with their eccentric alchemist dad, pushing his alchemy work onto them and shirks responsibilities.
They’re not very good at alchemy at first, but they come into their own eventually. Lydie and Sue are quite cute. Lydie is soft-spoken and shy, whereas Suelle is a loud tomboy who hates bugs.
The mysterious paintings that are at the core of the story are curated by the royal family, and you’re tasked with exploring them so as to raise your official alchemy rank for the atelier.
The game is pretty much the same as the previous two in the regard of cute girls doing cute things. Likewise, the previous game protagonists both have cameos and are important parts of the story as well in mid-late game.
The gameplay loop is pretty much the same as the other two. Gather materials, fight monsters, fetch stuff for townspeople, come back to your base, do an alchemy; lather, rinse, and repeat.
The core story centers around mysterious paintings that allow people to enter the worlds inside if they wish hard enough to be in them. The worlds have rare alchemy materials, various weird monsters, and treasures inside them; so don’t be afraid to explore! The in-game time of day also seems to affect the strength and frequency of enemies that appear or disappear.
The paintings themselves are the “dungeons” per se of the game. They’re where you gather the most rare materials needed to progress the story along. The very first painting you go into actually shows a vestige of an unknown person, who seems to be connected with the girls somehow as well.
The graphics are a bit rough around the edges in all three games, but in comparing them to Atelier Ryza 2 and other modern titles isn’t realistic. It can hardly be expected for four to six year old games to look as crisp and polished as a current year title due to how fast game development as a whole has moved forward.
The anime intros are high quality yes, which is a given since cutscenes historically are always better than the actual gameplay graphics. The graphics themselves seem to have been not much of a focus of development, as other things like dialogue and character banter during cutscenes. There’s a ton of cutscenes to the point of being slightly annoying too, but nothing too terrible.
The areas outside of the main hub are a bit buggy in places. There are some invisible walls that are present early on in the first exploration area; particularly one spot in particular where the waterline meets the wooded area (I ran across it chasing a slime out onto the sand leading into the sea in a certain area). However, the game soon opens up a bit and hides its walls a lot better, and the areas inside the paintings don’t seem to have any buggy areas so far.
The music for each game is chock full of catchy tunes. While I’m not super focused on the music in games, I can tell when it’s treated as an afterthought however. This isn’t the case in the Mysterious Trilogy games. One track in particular is quite memorable whenever you’re in the blacksmith shop in Atelier Lydie and Suelle. As an aside, all the voices are in Japanese with English subtitles; something fans are sure to enjoy.
As far as the quality of the games and if they’re worth the price, I’d say yes. Atelier Sophie has been an entry point for the series as a whole for the longest until the Ryza games dethroned it. All of the Atelier games seems to follow a similar formula, and these are no different in that regard. The characters make it worth the experience.
In closing; if you’re a fan of fetch quest heavy old-school JRPG’s and cute anime girls doing cute stuff, then Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack is right up your alley. I had a lot of fun playing them.
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review code provided by Koei Tecmo Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.