Atelier Dusk Trilogy (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 04.04.2020

Review for Atelier Dusk Trilogy on PlayStation 4

The Atelier Dusk trilogy was originally released, on the PS3 and represented a significant departure from the 'Arland' series of games that preceded it. With a long history, starting with the Atelier Iris series on the original PlayStation, these gradually switched from conventional adventure/RPGs, to simplistic slice-of-life tales revolving around young girls. An outcast of the more recent entries, this trilogy is much more similar to the older Iris line. It is very much like a spiritual successor to the well-received Mana Khemia series, with a much more in-depth combat system, and more serious stories. Here's a look at Atelier Dusk Trilogy DX, on the PS4.

For the West, the first bunch of Atelier games were the ones in the Iris series on the PlayStation, which was actually pre-dated by several other instalments, but only in Japan. These played very much like a conventional RPG: a home base, heading out on missions to various locations, a big bad boss that needs to be stopped, conventional turn-based combat, and a coherent story. They were fairly well-received, and perhaps set an expectation that was not in touch with the actual roots of the series, which were based far more on slice-of-life style gameplay.

Mana Khemia were the next two titles in the series, and are often regarded as some of the best Gust ever made. With very good characterization, dungeons, outstanding music, and an excellent turn-based system, these set the standard in many ways of what made a good JRPG. The next major series was the Arland series, which returned to the actual roots of it all: young girls living slice of life existences. Regardless of any purist beliefs, for the West the 'new' direction of the series put off many fans off the games. For those that had only seen what was released to the West, it was indeed a very strange turn for the series.

This brings us to the games at hand that are re-released for PS4: Atelier Dusk, which is composed of Ayesha, Escha and Logy and Shallie. The series as a whole is much more like the older style of games, vaguely reminiscent of Mana Khemia, which is a very good direction to have gone back to. Within the series itself, there is a strong change from one entry to the next - Ayesha is far more casual, whereas by the second one the story is stronger and the combat much more refined.

The biggest changes to the titles from the PS3 are high definition graphics, a run/hurry function, and all DLC included. The graphics are much better, but it is tough to tell if they have been actually overhauled or, if that was achieved due to the advanced processor of the PS4. This is seen most clearly in backgrounds where the textures take on much more depth. Some of the models, notable the characters, like Ayesha herself, still look a little more simplistic than most might be accustomed to on the PS4, but many of the backgrounds look well done. In contrast the character Logy looks very cool, and his model is surprisingly complex, and appears well done on the system. Comparing these to PS3 screenshots, the backgrounds look much more three dimensional, whereas the PS3 has far more "flat" background objects, like groups of grass that lack depth.

Screenshot for Atelier Dusk Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Graphic overhauls are one of the biggest things that are new in this package. Included are various DLC, such as alternative costumes or accessories to dress the characters with. The best part though is the 'Run' function and the speed-up. Letting players run twice as fast is something hard to take off once it is on. Likewise, being able to double the speed of combat makes easy battles or grind much less painful. It really is something all JRPGs should start including.

Atelier Ayesha is the first of the series, as it begins to set the stage for the darker tones the series is known for, compared to the much more light-hearted Arland line, or the more recent Atelier Ryza. The main character, the titular Ayesha, is a young herbalist who begins her journey as an alchemist due to a surprising direction the story takes. It helps frame what is otherwise a fairly simple story with the easy-going if not naïve Ayesha.

Right in the very beginning, first thing that happens is her bringing some candy to someone. Players are treated to a nicely designed set of ruins that is overrun by plants. At this point the graphics are brought to the forefront; again, these were originally PS3 products, now offered with high resolution graphics. Moreover, Gust's creations always had very good soundtracks, and here the music really helps sets the stage and scene.

Going through the sombre ruins we eventually come to something that is none other than a grave, a grave to her sister. She leaves some candy for her, and gets ready to leave when she sees a spirit of her sister. It is witnessed by another man in the ruins who comes up and talks to her. A much older guy, dressed in a trench coat and smoking a cigarette, sets up the plot of the story: Ayesha's sister is trapped in some spiritual dimension, and Ayesha has three years to figure out how to save her before she is gone forever.

Screenshot for Atelier Dusk Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Needless to say this setup is a far cry from some of the others in the series, like the aforementioned Arland series and Ryza. There was probably not a single cigarette in all of those, and yet one is seen here in the first few minutes. The darker and edgier tone fades away to a general adventure game all of the recent Atelier games have been like. On some level it feels a little like a tonal whiplash as Ayesha herself is very ditzy, naïve, and generally drug around by the plot. Her earnestness is a positive trait, but her stupidity definitely becomes grating. In terms of the series, it is the weakest entry, as the other two are just far better.

Atelier Escha & Logy is likely the best of the series, it's just very well done across the board. It starts with a choice between playing the girl Escha, or the guy Logy. Logy is a great character and feels a little like a throwback to 'Raze' from Mana Khemia 2[i], with his intelligence and general wariness of those around him. It is fun watching him question and doubt characters he comes across.

Graphically, this blows away [i]Ayesha. This is most notably in the character models themselves. In Ayesha the faces especially felt very simplistic; and Ayesha along with her friend Regina, particularly fell into the 'uncanny valley' where their faces just look... off. Gratefully, the faces are much better animated and more complex in this, and this ceases to be an issue. Logy himself is very well animated, and it is not an exaggeration to say he looks like as much time went into his design as two or three combined in the first game.

Operating with a much more relaxed deadline, this allows more exploration and combat, with latter being particularly well done. It has a type of a 'time bar' where any action sets a character back a certain amount of spaces, and whoever is next gets to go. Despite it being turn-based, it adds an engaging element of strategy to the system. Ayesha had a bare bone version of this, but it is far more fleshed out in here. There is also a much more present element of "cool" in the game - it is exemplified by Logy, but even some of the other characters like the engineer with glasses swings a sledge hammer that can catch on fire.

Screenshot for Atelier Dusk Trilogy on PlayStation 4

The final part of the trilogy, Atelier Shallie, improves many of the elements that were present even in the second one. The first is that the time limit is no more. This makes things much more relaxed, as players can take their time gathering, moving around, and fighting enemies. The game again gives the player the option to choose between two different girls. One is a modest girl who wants to help find out the source of all the water disappearing, and the other dreams of big adventures.

Though the characters did not feel as engaging as in the second game, it makes very good improvements in the alchemy and battle systems. The synthesize system, especially, is easily the best in the entire series. This was better than even the most recent Atelier Ryza - it's unfortunate that this better system was put aside. It is very easy to understand how the elements interact, and various traits and skills end up into the new items.

With a battle system almost as a carbon copy of Mana Khemia, fans of the older game will love the third in the series. It is the refined conclusion of the previous two. Still fundamentally turn-based, there are many different actions like support attacks, defends, and various 'time card' actions that leave effects that will trigger as the battle evolves. This was a system that made the old PS2 instalments so great, and it is such a good thing they brought it back for this.

For those that have never played the PS3 versions, either due to circumstances, or did not like the casual feelings of the more recent games, this is a perfect set of RPGs that harken to the tastes the West first got exposed to. With the various bonuses, such as the speed up, it takes much of the pain of JRPGs out, and leaves mostly a very fun experience behind. For those that beat the PS3 versions to death, there is nothing fundamentally new here, but for those that never played them and are curious, these provide the perfect opportunity to do so.

Screenshot for Atelier Dusk Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The series on the whole is a great throwback to the older Mana Khemia series. Ayesha is the weakest entry, graphically, story and gameplay wise, but things improve drastically with Escha and Logy, with a serious, "cool" factor to Logy, with the series coming to a very refined closure with Shallie. For JRPG fans that have any interest in those, they are a great pickup together. While not quite "traditional" RPG quests, they are very similar to the JRPGs that really first started getting popular in the West many years ago.

Developer

Gust

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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