Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 07.03.2017

Review for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PlayStation 4

The Atelier series of videogames has been on the go since 1997 when it first appeared on Sony PlayStation. Developed by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo, it's seen a lot of success in recent years with the "Plus" remasters/releases on the Vita and PS3 systems. Every sub-series has focused on alchemy as its key mechanic, a sub-series being, for example, Arland, which covers Rorona, Totori and Meruru. Atelier Firis is the second entry in the "Mysterious" series, its prequel being Atelier Sophie, which released in the West in 2016.

As the title suggests - Atelier Firis - players assume the role of Firis Mistlud, a young girl who yearns to explore the outside world and is overbearingly cutesy. Her hometown is in a mine and is barred from the outside by giant, almost immovable doors. Coincidentally, it's by far the largest starting area from any Atelier game and it features next to no loading screens while traversing, which is a theme that continues throughout. The entire opening is about her trying to convince her parents to let her travel outside and see the world, which her mother is very much against. Eventually, about 15 minutes into the game, there is a fateful encounter that leads to the mysterious journey that the title heralds.

Screenshot for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PlayStation 4

Visually, it's the most colourful and detailed entry in the series. The new, larger environments make use of improved texturing and lighting to give the feeling of a vibrant and large world. The character designs are varied and interesting, although they have very static eyes, which are a bit disconcerting sometimes. Animated sequences have the same beautiful art style from the other Atelier games with a slightly 'glowier' outlook. Overall, the atmosphere is fantastic, especially when that signature music kicks in. Nothing beats the funky, folky, and overall awesome music from this series.

Questing is very well managed. There is a multitude of quest information given for both the story and smaller side-quests. It's seriously addictive to complete a bunch of side-quests at a time and reap the rewards. Characters are interesting enough to want to do their quest to learn more about them; for example, one of the first character quests is to fix a key for an adventurer. He arrives randomly, gives Firis the key, asks her to fix it, and then leaves. Then, once the key is fixed, he comes back and has a much more interesting exchange of dialogue. It's gratifying and keeps players invested in the questing aspect of the game.

Screenshot for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PlayStation 4

As expected, gameplay revolves around the series' staple resource gathering, time management, and item synthesis. Item synthesis takes some of the newer features added in Sophie and tweaks them slightly into a super addictive mini-game. It's easy - so long as the resources collected last - to lose an hour or two in the grid systems and flashy effects. Resource gathering and questing are the next big things - they are arguably the main gameplay systems. During resource gathering, all of the game's systems come into play: time of day, LP management, inventory space management, talking, exploring, and battling.

Each day is split into six time periods, from early morning to late night. Every action taken while exploring uses time alongside LP, a measurement of the characters' energy. This is where it pays to plan how to use the in-game time to effectively complete the goals within the given timescales. Battling also uses this time so, therefore, avoiding encounters is sometimes the soundest strategy. The battling, in general, is actually great fun and has a few unique elements when compared to similar JRPG systems. Characters can do things like protecting each other from enemy attacks and can chain attacks using the new chaining system.

Screenshot for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PlayStation 4

For those who are uncomfortable with time limits, fear not. Only the initial/opening missions use an actual time limit, after which the game takes it away and lets the player do things at their leisure á la its prequel. All the dialogue and story exchanges are utterly charming and often humorous, yet the voice work itself is not fantastic. The English is grating and the Japanese is piercing, for Firis in particular. There is also a strange thing where the voices are at an extreme volume. Even when adjusted in the "Function" menu, the voices are still far in excess of the music and other sound effects. That said, the characters themselves are well written and although they rely on clichés, they are enjoyable to interact with.

Screenshot for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is a fantastic addition to the franchise. The new world design, new visuals, and small tweaks to the many ingrained game systems make this the definitive Atelier experience. With a tremendous lifespan, consisting of a plethora of side-quests, a long main storyline, and a long, long list of items to synthesise, it should more than live up to many players' expectations. It's thoroughly recommended to fans and first-timers, alike, although be prepared to sit through a good 30-minute slog before the game begins to get going.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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