Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, is part of the long running Atelier series by Gust Corporation and Koei Tecmo.
Genre: RPG, Anime
Developer: KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
Publisher: KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
Release Date: 7 Feb, 2017
The game is a 3D anime-style, turn-based combat, crafting game. As in all of the atelier games, the player takes control of a young female alchemist with a desire to reach a certain goal. In this case, Sophie is the main character of this title, and she wishes to become as great of an alchemist as her late grandmother was. Sophie finds a mysterious book which comes to life, talking and flying about, after she writes an alchemy recipe within it.
The mysterious book named; Plachta, is suffering from amnesia, though writing recipes within her pages seems to restore her memories. Plachta decides to help Sophie become a great alchemist and in return, Sophie will write all the recipes she discovers within the magical book in order to recover her memories.
Even though anime-style graphics are hit or miss with some people, the title’s art-style is great. There’s a lot of unique character design, and the art assets are bursting with colour, even during the night cycle. The terrain also looks quite nice. Although there are a few areas within the game that look similar, most of the locations that the player will travel too are very unique and have their own charm about them. There’s a good amount of enemy variety within the game, though some of the enemies are slightly modified versions of others, with maybe a colour change or different clothes/accessories added to them. The cut-scenes as well as the opening scene to the game are also high quality. The game will run fine on any mid to high tier GPU and CPU, though playing around with the settings might yield a better frame rate for those with a lower tier/budget set up.
The music in the game is absolutely lovely. There’s a lot of little folk tracks that really suit the art style and theme of the game. Although these tracks can feel a bit repetitive at times, they’re still quite nice. This, in addition to the great voice acting within the game make the sound assets really solid. Some of the areas within the game have different tracks, and on top of this, the tracks will change depending on the time of day. The soundtracks fit in well with each of the locations and as mentioned before, really fit in well with the overall motif of the title.
The game-play might be a little confusing at first, especially for those who haven’t played a title from this series, though the mechanics become a little easier to understand as the player progresses. Alchemy is a big part of the game, as it should be. Crafting new items, and gaining new recipes is also how the story progresses. Alchemy allows the player to craft various items and tools to help them in combat or as part of a quest. Products created from alchemy can also be sold to shops to make gold. Alchemy is more than just putting items together. There are different qualities and traits of items that can be passed down to resulting product. In addition to this, there are various items that can be used per recipe. The final product is influenced by the ingredients used, and the way that the compound is brewed.
The player will spend most of their time gathering items. New areas will open up as the game progress. There will be gathering nodes and enemies at all of these sites. Certain items and enemies can only be found in specific places, so travelling and backtracking to locations is important. Different hours of the day will also yield different items at some of these locations, though during the evening and night times, enemies are much stronger, so it is important to have a strong party.
While traversing through areas, the player will encounter enemies and will have to fight them (unless they run away from them). The game’s combat system is very basic. It’s a turn-based battle system in which enemies and allies will each have their own set of stats and skills, using them to defeat each-other. Levelling up will increase stats as well as unlock new skills to use in battle. The combat is not the main focus of the game, so it’s a little more understandable with it being so bare bones. It’s definitely the weakest part of the game.
The town also has many different stores that sell items that can assist with alchemy or combat. The café has a bulletin board where the player can obtain quests and rumours. Rumours are sort of like tips as to where to find special items, though some of these tips only work while the rumour is active.
During certain times of the day, when the player enters a part of the town, events may occur depending on which other character are in that area. These small “random” events add to the character’s depth and give nice side stories as the game progresses.
Final Personal Remarks:
The game is a lot of fun. It make take a little bit of time to start off and get a hand of everything, though the art, music and game-play are all a great experience. I’ve played one Atelier game in the past before, it was for the Nintendo DS, I had a lot of fun with it but it was a very short title. It also had multiple endings and everything sort of had a deadline. This title is a lot more relaxed. Although there is a time-flow mechanic, there is no pressure to finish anything quickly or get as much done as possible within a certain time frame. The only complaint I really have about the game is that the town is quite barren. There’s hardly anyone in the town and even in the shops there’s usually only one or two other NPCs. This was probably done to avoid too much clutter on the screen, though it would have been nice to see more civilians walking around and have more NPCs to interact with. Regardless, I found the title very enjoyable.
Thanks to the devs for giving me the opportunity to review the game, as well as anyone who took this review into consideration, I hope it helped.