Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Shane Jury 16.12.2019

Review for Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland on Nintendo Switch

Founded in 1993, the Japanese developer Gust began the long running series of Atelier games with Marie on the original Playstation. A unique approach to the Japanese Role-Playing genre, the series focuses more on the process of item building and ingredient gathering, over an epic adventure, with each title continuing this trend into the current day. One of the more popular sub-series of these games, the Atelier Arland Trilogy was recently gathered together and released, and to the surprise of many there would be a fourth game announced, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland. With this unusual step of turning a trio into a quartet, does Atelier Lulua live up to its predecessors' acclaim?

As the extension to a trilogy that was already rounded off well in story, Atelier Lulua instead forges its own fresh path in the shoes on Lulua, the daughter of the original Arland hero Rorona. Set many years after the original's, the story finds Lulua seeking to follow in her mother's footsteps, and master the art of Alchemy, as well as adventure across the country of Arland and aid those in need. Like many Atelier games, the stakes are far lower in here than in any "typical" JRPG, which can make for quite a change of pace for fans of the genre, and by no means undervalues the potential enjoyment this can bring.

Screenshot for Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland on Nintendo Switch

In all honesty, with the gradual improvements to the crafting and gathering systems in each subsequent game, this Atelier title is one of the most addictive and satisfying yet. The core of the game revolves around item usage, be it to solve requests from townsfolk, or to beat tough monsters out in the field, and the ingredients needed to create said components. The process is simple to grasp, but always offers enticing ways to improve the end results; altering an element ingredient to get different effects, or starting a chain of item synthesises to gain a mighty weapon for instance.

Battles adhere to a familiar JRPG turn-based structure, with a party of three fighters against visible foes in the overworld. Atelier Lulua proves its own twist on the formula, with a secondary party on the backlines, and the abilities they can use depending on the actions of the front-line. Structuring the line-up of both parties and their positions, can often determine the outcome of tougher battles in the game, and is a great way to mix things up for variety's sake.

Screenshot for Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland on Nintendo Switch

Atelier Lulua takes a major step away from other instalments in the series, with the lesser emphasis on the in-game clock and calendar. In older titles the plotline often revolved around a set period of in-game years to finish the end goal within, and monthly checkpoints for task lists given. The time system is kept intact here with travel and item building requiring varying duration, but the clock-dependant deadlines are gone, letting players go at their own pace. Though these limitations were very rarely a hindrance in earlier entries, allowing for more than enough time to accomplish the required tasks, the removal is far more beginner-friendly for new potential fans, and ironically helps Atelier Lulua become a great starting point despite its placement in the narrative build.

Even more of note is the dramatic improvements to character and environmental presentations. Gone are the static-portrait conversational cut-scenes of yesteryear, replaced by fully modelled characters interacting with each other; giving a great boost to immersion and allowing for some fun individual quirks that couldn't be fully conveyed before. The places these characters can interact in has seen a significant makeover too; no longer is the camera set to scroll along with the player's motion, but instead provides a fully explorable 3D setting per area, greatly increasing the scope of the and the satisfaction of ingredient finding and secret area discoveries.

Screenshot for Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland on Nintendo Switch

With such momentous improvements to the base Atelier blueprints, and a compelling exploration title in its own right, it is difficult not to recommend this as the best starting point for new prospective fans, and a solid game for long-time veterans. Sadly there are a few issues to point out, as well, one such flaw being the complete lack of an English dub for the game, something previous games have accomplished with gusto. The text translation is solid, and at no point is the language barrier an issue to progression, but the recurring issue with subtitle-only Japanese RPGs; voice-work during battle and no subsequent captions showing up for them is a highly prevalent annoyance.

Also of note is the multiple difficulty spikes with certain boss fights; much of the game is a comfortable experience in regards to levelling up and fighting monsters, but on occasion there will be a foe far too tough for that point in the story. Atelier Lulua does allow for difficulty changing on the fly, but even on Easy these enemies are far too strong. These two primary flaws can easily be seen as minor by many, and for those prospective players, Atelier Lulua is a strong endorsement.

Screenshot for Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

With developer Gust's unexpended expansion to their most favoured sub-series, comes what can be considered the best in the Atelier set to date. Casting away previous conventions to introduce new, more enriching characters, and world-building structures, Atelier Lulua's challenge spikes and lack of English dub does little to take the shine off the gem beneath.

Also known as

Atelier Lulua

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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