Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 07.03.2017

Review for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PC

Eighteen entries is a lot for any series but for Gust's Atelier it feels particularly impressive considering how widely out of the public eye the franchise has been since its inception in 1997. Outside of spin-offs and remakes, the franchise has enjoyed a modest existence on Sony consoles, but starting with the first entry of the Mysterious sub-series, Atelier Sophie, Steam became a new home away from home for Gust's alchemy-themed JRPGs. Whether or not being on the PC will give Atelier extra publicity is uncertain but the franchise clearly won't be going anywhere any time soon - for better or worse. Cubed3 takes a look at the latest release, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey.

Perhaps the nicest aspect of Atelier Firis, and by extension the franchise as a whole, is that it is the eighteenth entry in a twenty year JRPG franchise and requires no prior context to fully appreciate the mechanics or story. Even as the second instalment in the Mysterious series, playing Atelier Sophie is far from a necessity. It improves certain story elements, but Firis stands comfortably on its own.

The story, however, fails to incite any desires to experience the first entry as there's little in the way of actual plot that manages to come off as immersive. The only saving grace of the tense free story is that the voice acting is quite impressive for the main characters and manages to elevate the otherwise subpar writing.

A lack of tension isn't necessarily a bad thing since far too many JRPGs quite generically end up being "save the world" epics by their final acts but Gust doesn't go nearly as far as they could with the intentional slice of life premise they're aiming for.

The only real stake in the entire narrative is whether or not the protagonist, Firis, will get her alchemist license or not. If Firis does not manage to complete the criteria for her license in one in-game year, then the story will come to an end and New Game+ will be triggered for Firis to try again. Actual consequence is fantastic, but it is incredibly easy to get the license within the year.

Screenshot for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PC

Challenge is something Atelier Firis is wholly lacking in. Whether it be from the combat or from managing to complete the story in time, there is very little in terms of difficulty. Hard mode manages to make the time limit feel more imposing but only due to the extra grinding needed to get the license.

Despite the overall lack of difficulty, Firis still manages to be a fun and addictive JRPG. Exploring beautiful areas and collecting items to synthesise feels far more rewarding than the shallow combat. Firis needs to constantly be collecting ingredients and crafting items to increase the individual rank for each item. Each rank up gives the crafted item new attributes meaning that item crafting as much as possible is highly encouraged. It may seem tedious on paper, but the ranking up an item feels very fulfilling.

More importantly, the rank system means that item hoarding is not encouraged in the slightest. Many RPGs end up promoting a hoarder mentality, but since truly good items can only be attained through ranking up each individual craftable item, it means there's no reason to keep items lying around. For an RPG, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey has a weak story and lacks engaging combat to make up for it, yet the world is so lively and crafting is so fun that it's easy to forget about those problems. As a result, it does mean Firis is very much a mixed bag but it's one worth trying out at least once.

Screenshot for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey's story isn't going to impress and combat will rarely, if ever, offer any semblance of a real challenge, but Gust has tucked so much care into the overworld and crafting that the plot and action feels inconsequential most of the time, and the tense free narrative is a nice concept that can easily be realised fully in the next instalment. Firis is far from a perfect JRPG or high point for the franchise, but it's an admirable effort that shows that Gust still has a few tricks up its sleeves eighteen entries and twenty years in the game.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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   

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