Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (PlayStation 4) Review

By Colin Beauchamp 08.04.2018

Review for Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings on PlayStation 4

The next entry in the long running Atelier series is here with Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. As is the series' standard, players will be working on synthesising helpful (and sometimes dangerous) items using the power of alchemy, and then using this to help take on enemies in turn-based combat. Alongside this is the collecting of items, socialising with friends, and taking on side-quests, all the while jumping into mystical paintings that take you into completely new worlds. It certainly sounds promising, but is it actually worth playing?

One thing that deserves to be pointed out immediately is that while, as mentioned earlier, Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is part of a long running series, you do not have to have played the other entries to enjoy it. Characters from earlier in the trilogy will make an appearance (and yes, this entry is the end of a trilogy, specifically), but the game does an adequate job at making sure you are not left in the dark when it comes to figuring out who characters are. You play as a brand new set of protagonists named Lydie and Suelle, too, so no matter how much experience you have with this franchise, you should still be able to ease into it quite easily.

Screenshot for Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings on PlayStation 4

The overall gist of the game is simple, as well; as up-and-coming alchemists, you will choose between playing as Lydie or Suelle (you can control both in battle) as you complete missions to work towards gaining a higher standing as an alchemist. Rise through the ranks, creating specific items with the power of alchemy, fight enemies surrounding the town, and then eventually take on a final exam for that rank. Throughout the adventure, players will also be tasked with exploring mysterious paintings that have new settings to explore and unique foes to fight, as well, all while interacting with the unique species and scenarios found in these paintings… but more on that later.

Since alchemy is the name of the game, it will play a large role both in and out of combat. Players head through areas to look for synthesis materials, catalysts, and enhancing agents, and then can put them all together with the deep alchemy system. There are dozens and dozens of item traits, leading to a countless number of combinations to affect a single item. You could make a basic bomb, or could add several modifiers, like leaving burns, or use powerful enough ingredients to deal extra damage, for example. Again, there is a huge amount of freedom and depth due to the sheer number of options on offer, and it only gets bigger as you progress.

Screenshot for Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings on PlayStation 4

There is a need to wrap your head around these intertwining systems, too, because of how many items synthesised through alchemy can be used in combat. Battles are, for the most part, the standard turn-based affair, but when involving alchemy, it's a whole different beast. Enemies tend to have a huge amount of health, which would normally make battles tedious, but that's where the items synthesised come in. Battles in this game have a large emphasis on utilising the items made, as they will dish out a ton of damage during fights. The element of item preparation is what makes the battle system fresh; it's absolutely cathartic to launch several bombs in a row, dealing the smackdown on your foes. You even unlock the ability to synthesise items during the middle of fights partway through the adventure, adding to the number of options you have in that regard.

That said, as interesting as all this is, it leads to some problems, too. There obviously aren't infinite items, but since battles usually take a while otherwise (enemies are loaded with HP even on Easy), it can get rather tedious at times. You may find yourself trying to avoid most battles completely, to not have to go back and forth between your atelier to synthesise items and then walk (there is a quick travel system, but it only warps to the beginning of an area) all the way back to the area you were trying to explore and progress in. Still, battles manage to usually be interesting nonetheless; it just requires a lot of dedication if you plan on fighting more than half the enemies stumbled upon.

As mentioned before, players will occasionally explore the inside worlds contained in mystical paintings. These tend to be the most interesting places in the game, due to their unique theme that is vastly more colourful and memorable than the places found on the outskirts of the main town (a decent number of which are forests/plains areas). Anticipating what the next painting is going to be like is a highlight, which makes it a bit unfortunate that a small preview of each one is given at the start of each chapter, although it's a minor gripe overall.

Screenshot for Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings on PlayStation 4

Sadly, Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings has some noticeable issues that bog all this down. For one thing, even getting to these paintings can be a pain. On paper, the system (for a while, at least) is that you do some missions, take a final exam to raise your rank, and then go into a painting. As it turns out, though, you will frequently be road-blocked by a number of extra hoops to jump through, examples including: having to synthesise a specific item to fix a painting, your final exam going awry for story reasons and then having to do a completely different one, having to do extra missions before even unlocking the missions that unlock the final exam... it just kills the pace sometimes. It doesn't help that the paintings segments themselves don't even last more than 30 minutes for most of them.

Even the painting worlds themselves have the problem that's described above, too. It's not an uncommon occurrence to be exploring a painting only to be stopped and asked to go to the outside world to synthesise an item that you don't even have the recipe for, obtain the recipe and get the ingredients to synthesise the item, then go all the way back to where you were in the painting (remember, the fast travel system only takes you to the start of an area), use the item, and then progress further into the location. This isn't as noticeable in the earlier paintings, but the further you go, then the more complicated the process gets.

The adventure has other positives that have yet to be talked about, to be fair. The presentation looks great, the game is fully voice acted (do keep in mind that there is no English dub, but the Japanese cast is great), there's some nice music, there are plenty of tasks to accomplish and events to unlock, and it's quite a relaxing journey in general. The story and characters aren't fantastic, but for the most part these characters are likeable people that are enjoyable to watch interact with each other.

Screenshot for Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is an enjoyable romp with a charming world, an interesting alchemy system, and plenty of content. Its different systems intertwine with each other in a unique way that makes what is otherwise basic combat interesting, even if it's still not perfect. It's a shame that so often the pacing is broken to make you do uninteresting tasks to get back to the best part of the game - exploring the paintings - but that doesn't stop it from being entertaining, nonetheless.

Developer

Gust

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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