Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 11.02.2020

Review for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PlayStation 4

Riding a wave of unprecedented hype centred exclusively around the sexualized appearance of the main character, Atelier Ryza is the latest continuation of a series that is very long running. Possessing a new main character that is far sexier than her previous leads, the amount of talk about the character has been stunning. Made by Koei Tecmo's GUST - a well-known name in the field of JRPGs - the protagonist is clearly attractive enough to lure in potential new fans. The question is how does the game actually… ahem… stack up? After a more positive look on the PC, here's Atelier Ryza for the PS4.

What's is probably the reason half of the people are interested in this game in the first place? Ryza. Ryza is the main character, a teenage girl in a small town who wants to go on an adventure. Oh, and she has a huge chest, butt, and legs as well in case you didn't notice. Occupying the fabled golden zone of leg attractiveness of both possessing a thigh gap as well as leg thickness, Ryza obviously looks attractive. The amount of attention this game has received before release is very unique as far as JRPGs go. With fanart (both family-friendly and not-so-family friendly) galore, the attention Ryza has generated is unique given the game isn't even out yet. She is 'hot,' 'thicc,' 'curvy,' et cetera et cetera, but the real question is, can an attractive character hold an entire game?

There is nothing wrong with attractive characters, even sexy characters; in this game though, her clear sexual looks come off largely out of place. The game is a coming-of-age story that is neither deep, dark, or very involved. It is simply some friends who venture to the main land, have a few adventures and largely call it good. Stories do not make or break games necessarily, but in the JRPG genre it's a very important element; largely this games only significant weakness.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PlayStation 4

The problem with the lewd character designs is the strange antithetical elements it presents. Most of the characters look very simple: long conservative dresses and so on, but Ryza and the other playable character a wolf-girl named Lila are oddly sexed in an otherwise simple game. It is hard to enjoy a 'simple' story when Ryza's ever-present huge hips and Lila's head-sized breasts are constantly on the screen (especially when the 'summer clothes' get swapped onto Ryza.

To be a little clearer, the issue could really be summed up in a question like "Why did a simple adventure like this have to be stewed in sexual content?" It feels very similar to GUST's other series Nights of Azure 2 in that it was an attempt at a serious game, but one oddly saddled with endless jiggle physics and boob-shots much like this one. It feels so similar here, sure she is fun to look at, but hours later it feels just really odd when you are just harvesting grass over and over.

Okay, all that aside, this is quite enjoyable, but marred by lacking a driving narrative. As stated, it is a simple coming-of-age tale where Ryza and her friends decide to start exploring the main island. The graphics are a notable improvement for the series. The first forest you come into with the glowing mushrooms, lanterns and leaves look really good both in the day and at night. Other pretty areas were some large fields of flowers that were memorable and lead to a good feel for the game.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PlayStation 4

The main game loop is pretty simple: go around harvesting ingredients, maybe getting into a few battles, head back home to get to the alchemy to make new items and repeat. The alchemy is the heart of the game and it's pretty fun. It is also pretty complicated, and even the tutorials do not really tell some key aspects. Each item that can be made has its own type of 'sphere grid,' these can be small of three to four, to very massive for complex items. When an item is made, it is optional which parts of the grid are slotted with ingredients. So one time making an item, you might focus on unlocking better healing power, or larger range; another time the focus might be on some specific trait, so this can be passed along to some other item further down the alchemy tree.

One idea that deserves a lot of praise is the 'crystal core' idea that lets items be used without actually consuming them, for a limited number of times. A major problem in these games is making this super great item, but never actually wanting to use it. This system lets the items be used for free a few times which makes experimentation feel much more rewarding.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PlayStation 4

Playing the game, one is struck by how pretty it looks, how good the gathering/alchemy system fits together - even the battles are great. However, there exists a gnawing hole at the edge of awareness. Among the issues is a lack of an English dub. Purists may argue about how much they hate dubs, but when fairly large games like this lack an English dub that does not bode well for the genre. Plenty of battle and alchemy quotes are completely un-subtitled, leaving the unfortunate fan to sit there dumbfounded as to what is being said. A lack of a dub is a negative, plain and simple.

While there are so many great things about this, there is missing a tie that binds them all together. There is no over-arching story, no major 'point,' no mission, just a girl with a big butt gathering and making things. It is a simple kind of game similar perhaps to Harvest Moon where the entire point is up to the player of what they want to do.

It is the only major failing the game has, but it is a significant one. Without an over-arching plot or any large reason for doing anything, the systems in place - refined though they may be - just are not enough to keep a player engaged long term. The ultimately repetitive nature of what is being done, endlessly running through the same town, harvesting the same grass, battling the same monsters, starts to wear. The framework for a very good game is here, but with little purpose many JRPG fans will ultimately feel bored before too long.

Screenshot for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Big booties aside, the easiest way to sum up Atelier Ryza is: an absolutely great game framework, waiting for a game. The battles are interesting enough, the gathering okay, and the alchemy very good, but it all fails to connect on a purposeful or coherent level. With no driving narrative or reason, pretty rapidly the whole point becomes to simply battle, gather, alchemize, repeat; all of which fails to pull the player into something deep or meaningful. The is a great casual-friendly title, but it lacks any serious staying power.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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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