Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (PlayStation 3) Review

By Shane Jury 13.04.2014 2

Review for Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PlayStation 3

Although it is one of the longest running Japanese role-playing franchises to date, with 15 main entries and counting, the Atelier series has yet to gain the mass awareness of comparable big names like Final Fantasy and the Tales of... titles. Mostly grounded on Sony's consoles, aside from a number of portable side-stories, the Atelier games take more of a focus on item synthesis to guide their stories along, and are usually grouped together narratively in trio sets for world building purposes. Since 2004, and the dominating success of the PlayStation 2, the games have begun to venture overseas and capture new fans. Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is the fifth PlayStation 3 title to grace European shores, and the second in the Dusk trio. Does this feat of Alchemy turn up a dud, or a golden nugget?

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky takes quite the departure from conventional RPGs, not only in the aforementioned synthesis focus of series fame, but also in its plotline. Instead of being the famous heroes of legend prophesied to defeat the tyrannical lord of darkness and save the princess, the protagonist is instead a simple item brewer and government official assigned to a small town and its surrounding areas, given jobs and tasks to complete to set deadlines. This may sound off-putting to gamers used to more epic roles in their games, but what emerges from this trek off the beaten path has to be one of the most refreshing takes on role-playing games in quite some time.

Choose to start as either of the titular characters - Escha, a spunky charismatic alchemist, or Logy, a thoughtful but kind weapons specialist, with a number of set differences between the two but with both following the same story structure. The game's world is in the midst of recovering from a cataclysmic event from eons past, and as government officials the chosen character and the other option alongside they are tasked with exploring the barren lands near town, creating items to aid others, and learning more about the surroundings and what remains of the previous civilisation.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PlayStation 3

The game starts off at a steady pace, gradually introducing the chosen character and his or her colleagues, together with the townsfolk and the more unusual of the supporting cast, before fixing them up with their first job. Each three and a half month period given is represented on an instantly-accessible five-by-five stamp grid with the main task in the middle, this being the one that absolutely has to be completed for the game to continue past that time period. Essentially, the game becomes a time management simulation, with the player required to take into consideration the number of in-game days required for certain actions, like travelling and alchemy creations. Thankfully, there is more than enough time for the main task and a good number of the surrounding optional missions too, depending on how well time is managed.

As the game progresses, it gently pushes more and more new mechanics to the player in a manner that should in all actuality be overwhelming, but never manages to be so. Tutorials are optional, quick, and highly informative, with the optional tasks on the stamp sheet usually tied into them in one way or another, and the in-game glossary provides instant access to essentially everything encountered to that point should it be needed.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PlayStation 3

Aside from managing days effectively, the two core concepts in Atelier Escha & Logy are synthesis and battle. The former could literally not be any simpler - the tutorials surrounding it, the ingredients usage, and the special abilities surrounding the actual brewing... Creating items is easy and painless, not to mention addictive when trying to create that perfect weapon or accessory with the equip effects desired.

When exploring the lands outside of the starting town, and gathering alchemy ingredients, no doubt enemies will be met in battle, and here the game goes with a turn-based fighting system. Beginning with three battlers and the standard Hit Point/Magic Point counters, the game begins with more of a focus on using items to attack and defend with, until character levels are built and special techniques are learned. From that point, more complex tactics are gradually added, such as a back line of fighters to switch to when needed, supporting attacks and defences, combo item attacks between the two main characters, and strong utilisation of elemental buffs and de-buffs. It wouldn't be unusual for the player to take a preference of the alchemist side of the game over the combat, but fights can be over in seconds if need be, and they do add a more strategic side to proceedings.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PlayStation 3

Another plus for Atelier Escha & Logy is its production values. The game supports dual audio for Japanese and English voices throughout; both fit well and neither is jarring, though they can be somewhat repetitive with phrases when using the Alchemy Atelier. The vast array of characters is well-presented with interesting and sometimes quirky personalities, shown mostly from the effective voice work, but backed with fitting themes. The sound in general is well done in variety and tone, going from a fast action track for a tense battle to a soothing melody when in a quiet place. Music can also be customised to an extent with themes from previous games in the series. The world built within the game isn't a typical post-apocalyptic setting, but the ruins and derelict towns the player can explore add to the mystery and curiosity of seeing more of what's on offer. The cel-shaded anime-inspired art style is certainly easy on the eyes, providing lethal displays of power in fights and presenting clear displays of items, ingredients, and text explanations in brewing.

Role-playing titles are notorious for being hour-sponges, and this one is no exception. Although the choice of character in Atelier Escha & Logy is largely inconsequential, the different narrative tone of each will ensure anybody enamoured with one side will want to experience the other, and this is where even more hours will be added to the mountain already put into the game. Although by no means a trying experience, Atelier Escha & Logy does have a small number of difficulty walls later on in the game that might frustrate the less patient. For those willing to persevere past these times, however, there is one of the most unique and satisfying games of the year to play.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The Atelier series has yet to gain mainstream critical acceptance in the West, but with more games like Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, that time may come very quickly. A unique, involving, and satisfying experience hampered only by slight repetitive voice acting and difficulty spikes, following Escha or Logy's work days is likely not to be a time anyone will forget.

Developer

Gust

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I have to admit I've never played at Atelier game before, but this sounds like great fun! I think there's a DS version called Atelier Annie or something, if I recall correctly...not sure if that's by Gust as well, though.

Good to hear you had fun with it, Shane!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Endless Solitude (guest) 04.01.2015#2

Thanks for the thorough review; like Mr. Riley, I've never tried an Atelier game before, but this definitely sounds interesting.

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