Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS Vita) Review

By Shane Jury 23.02.2015

Review for Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk on PS Vita

As games have become bigger and more complex over the years in tandem with newer and more powerful host consoles, many expensive franchises have been left by the roadside, or simply reduced in number as publishers seek out more profitable ventures. One such genre is the humble Japanese Role Playing Game, which, whilst still has bigger names like Final Fantasy and the Tales of... series being released, has far less representation than Open World titles and First Person Shooters. On home console that is, as the genre is thankfully still alive and well on handheld devices, and even mobile formats. The Atelier franchise, in particular, has found a stable with Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, often releasing a new title on the former and later porting it to the latter. Atelier Ayesha is the latest game to undergo this treatment, but how does the first in the Dusk trilogy of Atelier titles fare?

A good number of the Atelier games differ greatly from most J-RPGs in regards to story structure. Instead of a rag tag group of friends off to defeat the evil being and save the world, there is usually a sole heroine practising Alchemy under the orders of a business or organisation. Atelier Ayesha Plus differs even further from the series' standard in that the titular character runs her own Apothecary separate from any government or alchemist standard, and she only starts practising the latter in the hopes of finding her missing sister. This story alteration serves as an encouraging end goal and proceeds further at select checkpoint areas within an unnamed land, rarely obtruding upon the synthesis and exploration needed in the game.

Screenshot for Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk on PS Vita

Although there is no threat of shop closure or work time restriction to worry about, the game does place an in-game three-year limitation on the player to find Ayesha's sibling. As such, time management is a considerable element to keep in mind, although the lack of assessment intervals makes it less of a worry than in previous games. Time depletes as Ayesha's group of adventurers travel and as she picks up new ingredients, so making good use of quicker routes is key. Many of the characters follow their own reasoning for joining Ayesha's fighting group, but thanks to well-written and interesting dialogue, the interactions rarely distract.

Atelier Ayesha Plus's anime-styled world is built well, with locations mapped distinctively and clearly, and bigger areas given a quick-jump function for easier travel. Each usable character and many of the important non-playable ones are given endearing differentiating traits, both in personality and in attire, with the latter customisable to a degree as the player progresses. Voice acting works beautifully, and can be skipped both in an English or Japanese selection choice. The loading pauses between areas are an unfortunate consequence of the transitioning from PlayStation 3 to Vita, but thankfully absent for the battle switches. Touch screen and Back Panel control are limited due to the ported nature of the game, but buttons and sticks work just fine. Frame-rate issues are in abundance for the whole game, however, often chugging when too much is happening on-screen.

Screenshot for Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk on PS Vita

Ayesha's journey requires her to synthesise new items by way of ingredients found on the paths between settlements. These items can range from new and enhanced weaponry, offensive tools to turn the tide in a battle, request subjects that the citizens of the towns and cities desire that yield great rewards, or even key items that make searching and collecting quicker. Starting with the basics as the player begins, with more options being added as guides are found or purchased, the game gradually introduces new functions with a handy tutorial menu that can be seen again at any point.

Picking up ingredients for these items takes in-game time, and varies in quantity and type depending on who is in the player's party, encouraging repeat visits for new and replenishing goods. Around these shining pick-up zones is where the world's monsters roam, which triggers the turn-based battle system.

Screenshot for Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk on PS Vita

Limited at first due to the party's low levels and lack of abilities, stronger foes later in the game will test gamers' strategic mindset, as elemental attacks and turn order take more of an importance in winning. Fighter placement on the battlefield, as well as building up the Support Meter for each ally in order to defend and unleash stronger attacks, is equally vital, as is Ayesha's exclusive ability for item use that can truly determine an outcome. Battles can be over in less than a minute with the right strategy in place and the roaming monsters on the paths can be avoided when needs be, so fights are rarely a nuisance.

Although the three year in-game limit can deplete quite quickly, it is the strength of Atelier Ayesha Plus's strategic time management requirement, the fun battles and character interactions, and the sense of achievement through synthesis, that keeps the ticking clock firmly in the background. Boasting a vast number of unlockable rewards through Bingo-style grids, and notable New Game Plus features that encourage repeat play, Atelier Ayesha Plus's basic approach and lack of bi-monthly mandatory targets leave this Atelier game as the de-facto choice for players new to the series.

Screenshot for Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Series fans may consider Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk to be the oddball of the group due to the more personal plotline direction and lesser emphasis on time management, yet this serves as the perfect gateway to curious onlookers looking for a top quality RPG franchise.




Koei Tecmo


Turn Based RPG



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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