The Atelier JRPG series has come a long way since its initial debut on the Sega Saturn with Atelier Marie. Fast forward over two decades later, we now have Atelier Ryza which takes the series towards a new direction while retaining some of the charms that it is known for.
The game wastes no time thrusting players into the story, as you are quickly introduced to its protagonist, a certain Reisalin Stout, who will henceforth be known as Ryza, the namesake character. The first thing you will notice from Ryza’s introduction is that she is very different from past heroines in the Atelier series. While other heroines have a more conservative and cutesy appearance to them, Ryza is far more boisterous and bold in terms of looks than any of them ever were. While the heroines of the past have always been very good looking, the designer behind Ryza has cranked up the eyecandy by at least two notches. Whether this is a good or bad thing really depends on the individual, but just note that the shift has been made there.
One thing that has remained and true to the series is the fact the world at large is peaceful. Ryza is a plucky and active individual who is unable to sit still, and as such has it in her the desire for adventure. With your merry band of friends, you will embark on said adventure and discover the world as you have never had before. That stays the case for just about the entire length of the game, which is a hallmark of the Atelier franchise. There is no a immediate threat to humanity nor is that an ancient evil that needs to be defeated. It is just you and your party going on a journey of hijinks and self-discovery. What’s more, despite this being an Atelier game, Ryza herself has never heard of the concept of alchemy until she was introduced to it early on, a departure from past games where the heroine starts as an amateur in the art. Nevertheless, upon learning about alchemy, Ryza is motivated more than ever before to explore her surroundings.
While never a focus of the series, combat is present here, and this portion of the game has been reworked. Unlike past titles where fights are turn-based, the developer has opted for a real-time approach this time around. Taking a page from Final Fantasy’s ATB system, in which you are required to take action when your turn arrives, the flow does not stop even when you are in menus. Also, you are only able to control a single character at any given time, and those you aren’t will act on their own accord. There is a lot going on all at once and it can be quite overwhelming when you first start out, especially if you come from past Atelier games where things are for more laid back. In any case, combat is the only portion of the game where you will be paying a lot of attention, as everything else takes a back seat. With no more time limits imposed, you can approach the game as and how you see fit.
More importantly is the alchemy system, which also received a facelift of sorts. Here we are presented a series of branching recipe routes where you put in ingredients of various elements into nodes to develop and customise recipes. It does away with the colour block organisation from past titles for something that just as satisfying. Players ultimately get more flexibility in the direction they wish to take with their recipe, encouraging them to gather a wider range of ingredients to experiment with.
At the end of the day, it is safe to say that Gust has successfully reinvigorated the Atelier franchise just as it was beginning to be stagnant. A new take on the protagonist and a much needed revamp of the existing systems were definitely risks, but the developer managed to pull it off. Atelier Ryza is a great jumpstart for a new trilogy to the franchise.
Atelier Ryza Review
Gust revitalises the franchise with an all new type of heroine and gameplay systems to kickstart a trilogy.
- Super interesting protagonist
- Combat can be overwhelming at times
- Synthesis system no longer as in depth
We Give Atelier Ryza 8 out of 10