Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout (PC) Review

By Athanasios 25.10.2019 2

Review for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PC

Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hidout has a curvy protagonist, and a character with enormous tatas! "Ermahgerd!!!" exclaimed all the Internets on Twittergrambook, and the earth kept on spinning afterwards. Okay? Okay. Moving on. For the 21st(!) entry in the niche line of JRPGs that is the Atelier series, things are largely the same, but also slightly improved. Of course, the heart of the title is once more in alchemy, rather than dungeon crawling, and this still has the same, feel-good vibe. Therefore, if a fan, jump right in. If a newcomer, don't worry. This is generally a highly accessible RPG, and also the beginning of a completely new arc. In other words: get ready for some brewin'!

Another Atelier, another heroine? Yes, but Reisalin Stout, or Ryza, feels genuinely fresh, and will surely become the favourite of many a long-time fan. Starting with her design, this sparky girl is less... Disney princess-y than usual, and looks more like an ordinary village lass, with a costume that fits much more with her role as an alchemist. Moreover, she has more meat on her bones, and in all the right places, especially in her juicy, juicy thighs. Even better than a curvy girl, is only a curvy girl with a tomboyish, impulsive personality, as well as a big, kind heart behind her ample bosom.

Her gang of friends, who Ryza drags with her to create mischief, consists of a hunky giant with a golden heart named Lent, and the obligatory nerd of the team, the bookworm Tao. Bored out of their minds, these three eventually meet up with some - suspicious - people who give them the tools to finally do their thing, and in Ryza's case that means an introduction to alchemy; this fantastic flavour of magic that lets her concoct all sorts of useful items, from medicine and tools, to weapons and explosives, just by simply brewing together various ingredients.

For those who haven't figured that out, this isn't Final Fantasy. Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is just another Atelier instalment. Instead of a dark, 100-hour epic with a world-threatening evil, this is more like a week-long summer escapade. While you won't spend your time at beach parties and the like, fighting monsters is only a pleasant break from the main gameplay loop, which revolves around gathering items, mixing them to create something new, and then doing some - mostly - light questing, including helping out your fellow villager.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PC

This still caters to a particular niche. Thankfully, it's great at doing so. The carefree, easy-going nature of the franchise is even stronger here, possibly because of Atelier Ryza's relaxing, summer theme, and due to how daily life is depicted in a festive way, as if in a fairytale. It all looks great too! While there are a few cracks, for which the rushed production and low budget is probably to blame, without exaggeration, this is the most beautiful entry so far, with plenty of picturesque locales drenched in bright blues and greens, and great character design - thighs or no thighs.

Obviously, it's all a bit on the juvenile side. Atelier Ryza is basically Harry Potter, without any of the mature themes found within the latter. There are a few dark spots in this otherwise optimistic tale, like Lent's problems with his abusive drunkard of a father, or how the one who controls the water supply in the village is basically in control of everything, and, yes, there is a main antagonist here as well, but sadly, while promising, these subjects aren't further explored. In the end, this is a "harmless," child-friendly, coming-of-age story, and that's about it.

Now, while this won't quench anyone's thirst for something a bit more thought-provoking and memorable, it's hard to deny that what's on offer is quite enjoyable. The main cast is very likable, despite the fact that no one amongst them will win this year's "Multi-layered, complex Character" award, and it's also nice how, in its simplicity, this manages to successfully capture how it feels to be a full-of-life, progressive teen, living in a narrow-minded, isolated, and old-fashioned community; a teen who has to endure stereotypical, 'pastoral town' tunes for more than 20 hours.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PC

What about the 'game' part of this game? For the most part, nothing has really, really changed. That isn't to say that there aren't some alterations to the original recipe. Gathering ingredients is pretty much the same deal, only now you can also craft equipment that produces different resources when used. For example, hitting a tree with a staff throws down fruit, scraping its bark with a scythe will give… well, layers of bark, and using the axe leaves behind pieces of lumber. Not an innovative addition, but it's generally a welcome one.

The actual process of alchemy is more streamlined this time around. Without getting into much detail, one simply needs to put ingredients in a "network" of nodes (one similar to a skill tree), with each node representing a different aspect, like the quality of the end result, or how many, traits it will have, with traits being extra perks added to your creation. You've made an item and want to upgrade it? You can do that too, with the use of the brand new 'Item Rebuilt' system - just make sure to craft something your character has the level required to actually handle, that is.

If there's a flaw here, that is simply how, while this slight simplification of alchemy will immensely help newcomers, it leaves less room for experimenting with creating some more imaginative mixes. In fact, there's a feeling of linearity in here, which is probably this instalments biggest problem. Make no mistake, Atelier Ryza is fun and all, but it feels kind of… constricted, when it should be far more open-ended than other RPGs, exactly because it's not about strengthening your party to fight with a gazillion of foes, but about - theoretically - doing things your way.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PC

The part that perfectly encapsulates all that's great and bad with this game, is ironically, the least important one: the battlefield. Atelier Ryza has a super-fast, surprisingly tactical combat system; an interesting real-time/turn-based blend, where time doesn't stop when choosing actions… but it's all kind of wasted in something that isn't that eager to take advantage of its potential. It's just that it's tactical for the sake of being so, as this will be a walk in the park for the majority of people. On the bright side, fights manage to be exciting by forcing you to keep many balls in the air.

Apart from having to think and act fast, one must also carefully handle a couple of resources. AP, for instance, can either be used as mana for abilities, raise the "power level" of the team, effectively strengthening their attacks, or to use a Quick Action; a super useful, final resort-type technique that lets you, say, heal someone, without waiting for your turn. Finally, items have a limited use as they consume CC, with the only way to recharge that being converting of one of your items to CC, which disables it for the rest of the "expedition."

There are many more, mostly small changes to talk about. In fear of this turning into a manual, though, you only need to know this: Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hidout is a very, very good game. Sure, as a whole it's "just another Atelier," with just a few tweaks and additions here and there, which aren't a reinvention of the wheel. No, this won't create a revolution in the genre or the franchise it belongs to, and it's by no means perfect. However, it's definitely a step in the right direction, and a great start for the series' new face. Highly recommended!

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

In the grand scheme of things, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is just another entry in the series, which doesn't have what it takes to be declared the absolute best amongst its many siblings. That said, and although a little more emphasis in alchemy and storytelling, as well as a more open-ended structure would be more than welcome, this is definitely one of the best Atelier titles ever. It's an immersive, beautiful, and relaxing journey, which smells like summer and childhood adventure.

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   

Comments

forget the alchemy, i want more emphasis on the thighs!

So she has a huge...personailty, and a really big...heart... right?

The battle system actually looks fun, I wonder if mana khemia is ever coming back.

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