I used to be a fan of Japanese RPGs. Some of my favourite childhood memories are of the countless hours I spent playing the Final Fantasy and Tales series. I loved the quirky characters, the engrossing stories, and the over-the-top moves I could whip out in combat. Eventually, it got to the point where every JRPG I played felt the same as the last one, so I happily embraced games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and the Elder Scrolls, which offered me completely different experiences. Surprisingly, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky may just be the JRPG that pulls me back into the genre.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky takes place in the same world as the previous game in the series, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk. At the start of the game, you can choose to play as either Escha or Logy, who have just been hired as alchemists for the Colseit town government. Escha is a Colseit native and slightly naïve about the outside world, while Logy is an easygoing guy from Central City. The two characters experience the same quests and main storyline, but some cutscenes are different.
Atelier Escha & Logy is a game about alchemy. As the newest alchemists of the town of Colseit, Escha and Logy must gather ingredients, synthesize important items, and use alchemy to help their community. The storyline is divided into a series of missions, and the team is given three months to complete each main task. Travelling and using alchemy cause the days to advance, so you’ll need to choose your actions wisely. Along the way, you will find new characters for your party, fight your way through swarms of enemies, and hunt for many rare materials. The story is very laid-back and seems to have no direction for the majority of the game, but it picks up towards the end as you take your airship to an unexplored ruin in the sky. This would be a problem in any other game, but the way the story develops allows you to get to know each character well and understand their motivations.
For those of you who don’t know, an atelier is a workshop. The atelier is where you will create medicine, food, bombs, magical items, weapons, armour, and more to help you on your journey. Synthesizing and forging items grants you experience and levels up your alchemy skill. The alchemy system is simple enough to use, as you follow recipes and combine different ingredients. As you level up, you unlock more ways of refining your items and are able to add different properties like increasing their power or reducing the space they hold in your inventory. What appears to be very simple on the surface soon becomes very complex as you progress through the game.
When you aren’t perfecting the art of alchemy in your atelier, you’ll be gathering ingredients in the wilderness and fighting monsters. Enemies appear on the world map, but you are quickly transported to a battle view when they touch you. Enemy encounters are turn-based, and you are able to see when each character’s turn will be at the top of the screen. Performing actions will fill the Support Gauge, which allows other party members to support you by attacking or taking damage. If you chain enough Support Attacks, you will trigger a character’s Special Support and deal some massive damage. Later in the game, powerful Finishing Attacks for every character except Escha and Logy will become available. Instead, Escha and Logy are able to perform the Double Draw move, which allows each to use one item, with the second item becoming much more powerful if performed correctly. With a multitude of flashy moves and up to six characters in your party, the battles are one of the best parts of the game.
In addition to having solid crafting and battle systems, the game’s soundtrack is also top-notch. The songs are catchy but always appropriate for the setting and never get annoying. Even if you don’t like a certain song, the game gives you the option of switching it with a number of other songs from the recent entries in the Atelier series. The graphics are also well done, and the whole world feels like it was ripped right out of an anime series.
You can spend hours upon hours playing Atelier Escha & Logy. Although you are always on a time limit to complete the main quest, you are given more than enough free time to enjoy your experience in the world. There are plenty of side-quests to pick up from the town hall, and you are given special bonuses for completing additional tasks. As you acquire money during each period, you will be able to invest it back into research projects and gain new perks like increased storage and more efficient crafting. You will also want to play through the game multiple times to unlock new recipes and items.
Even though I’ve been neglecting JRPGs lately, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky was a lot of fun to play through. The flashy combat, the quirky characters, and the elaborate alchemy system kept me coming back for more. If you’ve never played a game in the Atelier series, this would be the one to pick up.
This review is based on a digital version of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky for the PlayStation 3 provided to 3GEM by the publisher.