Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack (PlayStation 4) Review

By Shane Jury 03.06.2019

Review for Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack on PlayStation 4

Kicking off life in 1993, Japan-based Gust Co. Ltd started their game development years with self-published smaller titles for the NEC Personal Computer. A year later the Sony PlayStation was released, and with that came what would start a long series of games: Atelier Marie. Many of those under the 'Atelier' banner would be created on a multitude of formats from that point, including Game Boy and Dreamcast, but it wouldn't be until 2004 that one would be released outside of Japan, specifically Atelier Iris on PlayStation 2. As the recognised fanbase for the series grew, so would the localised releases, culminating in the latest game, Atelia Lulua arriving soon in the west. One of the most well regarded sub-trilogies in the series, the Arland games, saw a multitude of ports and refinements over the last two console generations, but have now been meshed into one release together for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. How does this pack fare on Sony's machine?

Each of the three separate games take place over a consistent timeline, one after the other, and each follows the titular heroine on their own distinct mission. Taking place within the country of Arland, all three require the acts of area exploration and Item Synthesis to progress their narratives and boss fights within turn-based combat. Atelier Rorona follows a young Alchemist Apprentice, as her famous workshop faces the threat of imminent closure without sufficient backing from the palace, and must synthesise required items and ingredients to prove its value to the central Kingdom. This game places more emphasis on relationships with the local community and their requests for certain items and monsters to be eliminated, as well as an overall Townsfolk Satisfaction rating.

Screenshot for Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack on PlayStation 4

Next up is Atelier Totori, which stars the apprentice of Rorona, who is also an aspiring traveller in her own right. Granted an Adventurer license by the Kingdom, Totori is required to explore the lands and create new items, both to fulfil conditions listed in the Certificate Terms, and to help battle monsters along the way. The second game of the three has more of a focus on exploring new areas in the kingdom, and reconnecting with returning characters.

Finally, there is Atelier Meruru, chronicling the adventure of the heir to the throne of the newly established Arls Kingdom, still within the country of Arland. The titular Princess has learned Alchemy from Totori, and is allowed to do so on the condition of providing creation results to the benefit of the Kingdom and its surrounding areas. The third game goes for more of a developmental focus, as production results tend to gravitate towards building material and soldier supplies.

Though each title has a solid story direction and three in-game years to finish them in, much like other Atelier games the sense of scale and drama is far more subdued than other JRPG games, making for a much more relaxed experience in general. Outside of the time management requirements that is.

Screenshot for Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack on PlayStation 4

Each of the three games has seen visual and audio refinement over the years as they have been ported, Atelier Rorona in particular, with the latest result on PlayStation 4 being the best the series has looked thus far. While hardly a hardware pusher, the trilogy makes effective use of strong distinct colour palettes and emotive character designs. Conversations are still largely conveyed in Static Portraits and Text, with the odd voice clip here and there, and a lively and fun soundtrack for each title. The latter gives more flexibility in its options, allowing for long-time fans to change each location or event's backing track to a selection of others from older games.

With the three years given in each game comes the need to balance out tasks, as each of the major aspects needed for progression - that is venturing out into the world, picking up ingredients in each area, and actually brewing up the intended Items from Recipe Books, something that takes a stated number of in-game days with deadlines for each list of tasks ending periodically. The method of regaining health and magic points, usually consumed by battles and brewing, also uses up a chosen number of days. These time limitations can be daunting at first, but each titles gently eases players into its mechanics and requirements with solid tutorials, and most early deadlines will allow a generous amount of days in order to complete enough story-progressing assignments. This constant cycle of balancing out tasks and item creation becomes surprisingly addictive, and as minor as the story-lines can be in the grand scheme they help to pace the games long nicely.

Screenshot for Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack on PlayStation 4

Alchemy works as one would imagine, combining two or more ingredients to make a whole new product. Recipe Books found in the overworld, or given as part of progression, determine the number of possible items that can be created, and require a high enough Alchemy Level to attempt. These results can vary in use and purpose, ranging from battle items like Dynamite and Healing Salves, to Weapons and Armour, and even other ingredients to use in future concoctions. The former is key to beating tougher enemies, as the Alchemist's battle party will be limited in offensive and defensive techniques, though enemies are easy to avoid as they are visible in the overworld areas.

Though the Atelier games are notably different in focus to other series in the JRPG genre, they retain the vast number of hours needed to finish them, and this trilogy is no exception to the rule. The number of extras packed in with each game certainly doesn't hurt either, with character costume changes, Art Galleries, Music Rooms and Model Viewers to name but a few. Veterans of the genre but new to Atelier may find the slower and subdued pace off-putting at first, but what emerges from each game is a compelling and enjoyable gameplay cycle of collection and creation that will truly challenge any completionist.

Screenshot for Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

One game by itself would be a fun developmental RPG, but with all three bring an ongoing storyline overall, and a foundational focus for each that mitigates the lack of such for the other two. Though the series has yet to push the boundaries of its host hardware, the Atelier Arland Trilogy does accomplish two goals: to set up for the fourth game releasing soon, and to provide unique and fun gameplay with immense value for investment hours.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

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   

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