Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland (PlayStation 3) Review

By Shane Jury 14.08.2014

Review for Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland on PlayStation 3

As the eleventh instalment of the mainline Atelier series on home consoles, the original Atelier Rorona broke a lot of ground upon its release in 2009 and 2010. It made use of 3D models in-game as opposed to strictly 2D sprite work in previous titles, and it graced the PlayStation 3; both firsts for the series. Atelier Rorona built the foundation for the 'Arland' subseries trilogy of games, and now, in 2014, developer Gust has revisited the title to put its experience on later entries into action. Landing on both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita as essentially the same version between both, does Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland have fresh enough ingredients for the cauldron, or has time dulled their effects?

Atelier Rorona Plus tells the story of a young alchemist in the prospering city of Arland, who works as an apprentice under a Master Alchemist in her workshop. Due to her Master's neglectful nature, the shop is under threat of being closed down, and over the span of three in-game years, Rorona must meet alchemy tasks given by government officials within three month periods. Like other games in the Atelier series, the game puts a strong emphasis on item creation and time management for a checklist, and less so on telling an epic story or developing a big bad villain character, which isn't anywhere near as dire as it might sound. Each period contains one main task that ranges from creating a number of items in a certain category, to fighting off monsters that have formed at a certain point, and a list of smaller tasks that aren't vital to continuing the game, but do net very useful rewards via a bingo card-like stamp sheet.

Screenshot for Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland on PlayStation 3

With Rorona as the main controllable character, the player can expect to meet many strange and colourful characters, a good number of which are recruitable for battles and exploration away from the atelier. Ranging from a rich socialite paranoid about her height and armed with guns, to a cook that fights with a frying pan, and a painfully shy street artist with talking possessed dolls, this game continues the Atelier staple of strong character development and intrigue. Getting around Arland and beyond is a breeze thanks to a quick menu that zips the player wherever they need to be, and helpful icons appear over these locations whenever an event appears.

For those familiar with the original game, the 'Plus' in the title refers to a number of important differences to the core of Atelier Rorona, namely a complete revamp for the synthesis and battle menus, more recruitable characters, and a restyling of the field character designs to be more in line with the portrait art that comes up during cut-scenes, instead of the odd chibi look the game had before. The game in general is full of life and colour, with the portrait art working brilliantly with the voice acting to convey character emotion. The music is once again lively and whimsical, complete with individual character themes and satisfying clunks and bashes in battle.

Screenshot for Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland on PlayStation 3

The game being on both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita has had one unexpected benefit, in that menu texts and their screen placements are bigger and clearer than in more recent console-based Atelier games, making for easier reading and navigation on HDTV sets. For gamers on the go, the option to transfer saves between both is highly appreciated, too.

The core of Atelier Rorona Plus is item creation and ingredient gathering, and this is what the player will spend most of their time doing. Venturing out of Arland with two allies in tow, Rorona can explore many differing places such as a forest, a lakeside that goes underwater to ancient ruins, and even a mysterious meadow where gravity isn't set to a rule, so it goes without saying that no two areas are the same. These are where the player can gather ingredients, by picking them up in designated spots, and fighting the roaming monsters that can also be avoided if need be.

Screenshot for Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland on PlayStation 3

The battle system itself is fairly standard for an RPG; a turn-based affair with Hit Points and Magic Points, skills that differ between characters, and items that only Rorona can use, which also have far more importance in tougher battles later on than in most games. Paying attention to the turn order grid in the corner of the screen can help determine when to attack and defend, and which enemies to prioritise with offense, making for a good amount of strategy in a game that only truly offers fighting challenge with the bosses - too much so at times if brutally honest, as later bosses and strong roaming enemies that pop up with passing seasons can be quite overwhelming for the unprepared. Atelier Rorona Plus' consistent challenge will be in deadlines and item making, but those wanting a little test for the fighting mechanics certainly won't be disappointed.

One very interesting addition to Plus appears at the very end of the main game's campaign, and involves the main heroines from the other two Atelier games in the 'Arland' subseries: Totori and Meruru. Both accidently end up back in Rorona's time, and through the space of an additional game year, must help synthesise a specific item to get back home. Cue new locations, new items, and two new party members that possess the skills of their namesake titles. This additional year, on top of an already extensive three-year story mode and strong New Game Plus incentive, makes Atelier Rorona Plus one of the lengthiest RPGs on the system, and due to the simplicity of the battle system and placement as the beginning of its own sub-trilogy, a worthy consideration as a lead into the Atelier series.

Screenshot for Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Take a Sony-branded cauldron, use a well-known RPG series as the base ingredient, then mix in an established adventure with a worthy facelift and a fun item gathering mechanic that helps hide the secondary nature of the battle system, sprinkle lively characterisation and friendly interfaces on top, and voila! Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland is born!




Koei Tecmo


Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 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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