Since I grew up in the NES era, I have always had a soft spot for a good JRPG like a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. A little over a year ago, I did a review for a game called Atelier Totori and basically had lukewarm feelings to it. However, its started an addiction that spanned 3 other games, and now it has moved onto a 4th in Atelier Ayesha: Alchemist of the Dusk. The super condensed gist of the story is Ayesha is a young apothecary who lives alone since her sister Nio vanished. While visiting Nio’s makeshift grave, Ayesha sees spectral vision of her, and learns from a stranger that Nio still lives and through alchemy she might be able to save her, but she’s only got 3 years to do it.
The gameplay is true to form, traditional JRPG fanfare. The world map has number of checkpoints, and each point is a different location to explore and fight, usually 1-3 screens. You can usually see all the enemies on the screen so its not random battle, but its 3 vs many turn based combat. Since these games are very short, characters only get 4 abilities with a level cap of 50. Because of this, battles can come an go remarkably quickly depending on your gear. There are a handful of bosses that can eat significant time, but ultimately the main “draw” of the game is its item creation. As you play through you get more supplies and recipes you combine those to create new items, which in turn you can use to make more advanced materials. The game moves at a breakneck pace so you have to keep moving to beat it before the time runs up.
The game is incredibly basic, samey, repetitive, and short. All of these things can come off as negatives, but I gotta tell ya? This series has me by the balls. I have no idea what it is, but I get completely engrossed in creating items and learning how to do things faster. After I beat the game, I immediately fire it back up to see if I can unlock more or beat it faster. In addition to that? The series has some exceptional music, so much so that I’ve dug up and official soundtrack shortly after playing. And if you aren’t deterred buy some anime stereotypes, the characters have some fun moments too.
I’m completely dialed in into this series and I don’t know how it happened, but frankly I don’t even care anymore. I really get into these, I’ve already beaten it like 3 times and I am still playing it. If you are one of those types who gets turned off by a game with big anime eyes, turn based combat, or can’t get your gaming boner up without staring down the iron sight in first person? You probably should pass on Atelier Ayesha. But if you aren’t bothered those things, looking for something a lil different, and without a massive commitment? I would say give it a try, who knows? It might grab you, it certainly did with me.