Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland Review
Japanese studio Gust isn't known for heavy hitting, big budget titles. It is a niche company, specialized in RPGs. Gust is known for the Atelier, Mana Khemia, and Ar tonelico series. They recently continued their flagship Atelier series with the release of Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland. Atelier Rorona is the story of amateur alchemist Rorona, who has recently gotten her hands on a workshop. She must do everything she can to keep it open. Atelier Rorona is the first North American Gust game on the Playstation 3, but does it have the same appeal as previous Atelier titles?
Atelier Rorona is rendered in cel-shaded 3-D, a departure from previous Atelier titles that used 2-D sprites. Fans will be happy to hear this game features the same hand drawn anime style found in many Gust games. Players interact with still images of characters, which is akin to a visual novel. The game offers both English and Japanese voice tracks, which is good for fans who enjoy Japanese voiceovers or just don't like English speakers.
Atelier Rorona is more of a Harvest Moon game than a traditional RPG. Rather than going out and growing some crops, Rorona has to try and keep her shop in business by completing assignments issued by the king. The game has a total of 12 assignments, which require the use of Rorona's alchemist pot. Alchemic recipes can be either found or bought in various shops. If Rorona doesn't complete these assignments then her workshop closes down. No pressure, right? The story in Atelier Rorona really portrays a sense of urgency. I found myself finishing products just before time runs out. During earlier missions, I would take my time, but I had to adapt to the game’s time constraints and learn how to use my time wisely. The game requires players to learn how to utilize their time and avoid coming too close to deadlines by completing assignments as quickly as possible.
Please respect my personal bubble.
Rorona completes assignments by going to different areas and collecting necessary items needed to perform alchemy. Assignments are judged on quality, traits, and the amount synthesized. Quality is based on number scale – the higher the number, the richer the product. A product can be labeled by a number of different traits, which can include descriptions such as cute, weak, strong, etc. Sometimes players must include certain traits in order to complete assignments and quests. Synthesizing items isn't the only thing players must do. Sometimes Rorona must defeat a particular enemy in order to complete assignment.
Like in many RPGs there is combat, but Atelier Rorona doesn't really bring anything new to turn-based formula. Rorona can ask one of many people she meets up to be in her party, but must pay a traveling fee along the way, which is based on how well she knows that person. This can get pretty expensive, especially if Rorona doesn't have a deep friendship with a particular person. Rorona can increase trust levels with the people she meets by taking on individual assignments. The game has multiple endings and Rorona's reputation determines which ending players will get. This allows players more opportunities to play the game and strive for the ending they want.
The challenge comes from each assignment’s deadline. Everything Rorona does takes time. Exploring the different areas, completing side-quest, performing alchemy and even resting uses up a chunk of time and will bring players closer to the deadline. It is very hard to level up characters properly, because each area has a finite amount of monsters and each zone within an area takes a certain number of days to travel. Players are also restricted by the number of items they can carry, making the game even more challenging. Leveling up is practically optional. Players don’t have a reason to level up because they can just appoint stronger characters to their party and only use them when fighting stronger enemies. Players will need to be on top of their game and use their time wisely in order to makes sure they have enough materials and money in order to complete assignments on time.
Of course the lizard's a bad guy.
Altelier Rorona isn't a game for everyone and it’s not very challenging either. Yet the game has a certain appeal and charm that makes it fun. I found it quite addicting because I wanted to complete each assignment as quickly as I could in order to have enough time to build up my reputation with the townsfolk. If players want to focus on the adventuring side and find bosses to battles, they can do that. On the other hand, if players want to level up their alchemy and really perfect the items they are making, they can do that as well. Each of these approaches to the game eventually leads to a different ending. With about 15 different endings in total, Altelier Rorona gives players more reason to come back to the game even after it’s completed.
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