Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings Review
- Developer: Gust
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Genre: JRPG
- Release Date: 27/3/18
- Platforms:PS4/PS Vita/ Switch/ Windows
- Reviewed on: PS4 Pro on 4K Samsung TV
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
The Atelier series is one of the most prolific game series out there, with this latest game, Atelier Lydie and Suelle : The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings the 14th entry in this very successful long running franchise. However, as a recent convert to the joy of Japanese games, this is my first experience of the Atelier series so how will it stack up?
The first thing that struck me when playing this game is just how utterly gorgeous the character models are of the main protagonists, Lydie and Sue. This extends from the character stills, cutscenes to gameplay. You will especially appreciate this more if you are an Anime fan. Each character, down to the NPC’s, have a beautiful artwork design for them. They aren’t especially well animated, but are fantastic to look at.
The artwork for the rest of the game is great to average. The costume design is stand out brilliant with each character interesting to look at, but the world in which this is all set, although colourful and vibrant, is just a bit too sterile and bland.
The voice acting is only in Japanese with English subtitles, but even so, I found it very kitch, sweet and charming, which is the aesthetic and vibe the whole game exudes. Some may find the character tropes too stereotypical, but there are some surprises along the way delivered in a beautiful, interesting story along with great writing and narrative.
The only real negative I found in the presentation of the game was it’s background music. Although the setting is one of kitch, sweet, stress free world, the music, and there is a lot of it, was far too day time, pre school children’s TV for my liking. It distracted me more than it should have.
The main thrust of the game after it’s presentation is Alchemy, and the hook of the game is that Lydie and Sue, use the mysterious paintings to find materials for their Atelier ( Alchemy shop ) to produce items no other Atelier can. This therefore sets them on their way to be the best Atelier in the kingdom. However like all good stories, nothing is quite as it seems.
Gameplay consists of exploring areas to find materials, combat, with a simple turn based system, and then when materials have been collected, synthesizing them back at the Atelier, to make new items. The better the quality of the items the better the result.
The act of producing items is also a mini game where each material has different coloured properties, that fill up points on a grid. Fill strategic points on that grid with a corresponding colour results in better more potent results.
Some items recipes require you to make items in bulk to them make something else also. It gets more complicated with the addition of catalysts that vary the result of these potions, and the size of the grid, even further. In short there is a myriad of options of creating items and it’s fun just experimenting to see what comes out and how strong.
Finally there are different routes to the ending, so there is replay value, but there is no online functionality in any shape at all.
The Atelier series is definitely a marmite type of game and frankly i’ve not played anything like it before. ( Tales, Persona, Samurai Warriors, Yakuza, Dragon Quest, Nier, Gravity Rush, Ni No Kuni and some others. ) Everything is so stress free, but even so it’s still fun to play for hours on end, due to it’s interesting story and fun to mess around with alchemy mechanic. The combat feels very secondary to the rest of the game but is still a welcome change of pace when you have that too.
However, that’s it. If the hook of the story, or messing around with alchemy doesn’t interest you then you will get bored very quickly. I however appreciated the fact that it’s the first game in a long while I’ve played where the stress levels were low, but the fun rating high so think it’s a great addition to anyone who likes anime or Japanese RPGs for that something just a little bit different, where you can just sit back, relax and enjoy.