Since the DX editions released on Switch I have started falling in love with the Atelier games. They hit all the right spots when it comes to JRPGs, throw in the alchemy system which is always addictive, and then a fun more relaxed story which feels more like a slice of a big adventure than the world burning down. They are so chill and happy.
When I jumped into Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout the biggest change that hits ya in the face from the outset is the change from turn based battles where the timer stopped. This was significant because all the other games I jammed were much more relaxing so it took a bit to adjust my way of playing, but before long it was clear the gameplay was superior.
They synthesized a better battle system
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy has taken this battle system and refined it with a seemingly small but massive change. In the previous game there was an AP meter which as it filled up gave you the option to spend it on an attack, or upgrade it. Here they have kept the AP gauge but you can use this freely with attacks. The AP gauge levels up in a battle automatically by you using the attacks.
This is a small change but totally changes the feel for battles as it doesn’t disincentivize using these attacks which is a big deal for another reason, chaining the AP skills. If you have 15 AP and you have a skill that takes 8 AP and one that takes 7 AP then you don’t have to wait two turns, you can chain them together. This becomes more awesome as your gauge gets bigger over a long battle. Also as with the previous game, the others in battle will do additional attacks if you meet their requirements, so a chain can do some serious damage. When the right conditions are met of course.
Crafting is an alchemists best friend, and you spare times worst enemy
Enough about the battle systems, they are one of the main reasons to enjoy an Atelier game but there is more to it than that. The crafting has also been refined a touch. If you haven’t played an Atelier game, the biggest aspect of the game is the alchemy where you collect absurd amounts of materials out in the world, then use your massive pot to make new stuff such as quest items, healing stuff, weapons, clothes, and a whole lot more.
The first Atelier Ryza made a massive change to how you unlock a lot of recipes, in that you did it while making another item but putting a certain ingredient in transformed your new thing into a different new thing. Once you make that new thing you have the base recipe going forward. It took me a while to get the hang of, but by the end I adored this system. Well in Atelier Ryza 2 you can unlock recipes that way, but also through a system where you earn points and use a skill map of sorts to unlock new recipes. It’s a weird dual system that again managed to charm me. Also yet again I wound up spending many hours doing sod all crafting, it is such an addictive system.
More Ryza, what’s not to love about that?
Oh then there is the whole story thing. The reason I love playing the Atelier games is their fun gameplay, but the reason you stay till the end is the quirky stories. They always have a smaller scale feeling to their tales. It is never like the Final Fantasy world is being destroyed vibe, it tends to be more localised like the island I live on is going to be destroyed. This and the relationships between the characters is such a massive part of the game.
Atelier Ryza 2 has Ryza headed to the big city leaving her small village behind her to investigate a mysterious rock. In the city she encounters some old friends thanks to the city being a university town, and discovers the horror of city life when she needs to rent a place. Ryza continues to shine with her ‘act now think later’ attitude, and mixed with a country bumpkin in the big city vibe she continues to shine.
I won’t delve more into the story, because so much depends on those character moments and why spoil it?
If you have played Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout then Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a more refined and much better game. If you haven’t then this might be a lot to jump into so I would recommend playing the first one as you will miss out on so much of the story and relationships of the game which is so central.