Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (PS Vita) Review

By Drew Hurley 13.02.2016

Review for Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PS Vita

Gust's Atelier series has been running almost twenty years, has spanned across many Nintendo and Sony systems - handheld and home console - and has built up a niche but furiously loyal fan base. This title is a PS Vita port of the fifteenth iteration of the series and the second instalment of the "Dusk" trilogy, originally released on PlayStation 3, and it includes all of the DLC the original received, along with some new content. Just what makes the Atelier series stand out from the other famous JRPG series out there? Cubed3 finds out!

As a primer for the uninitiated, the Atelier series is quite a unique experience, mixing the classic turn-based JRPG combat with an alchemy system that requires the harvesting and collection of numerous materials, and wraps it all up with a time management metagame. While this iteration directly follows on from the previous title and thus includes some returning characters and familiar aspects, it stands completely alone and requires no knowledge of any of the earlier games.

The story develops very slowly over the course of the game. Logy arrives in the town of Colseit from the central city to act as the town's alchemist - or rather, a second town's alchemist alongside a young girl called Escha, who grew up in Colseit and learnt alchemy from her mother there. The two are paired together and work with an ever-expanding cast of characters to assist the R&D division in restoring the Dusk Lands and exploring a strange floating ruin that hovers near the town.

It takes many hours of real time and years of game time for any progress towards these goals or for the true story arc to develop. Instead, it's easy to get bored with the day-to-day drudgery the story first goes through: discussing expense reports and repairing windmills. When it finally starts developing towards the final act though, the story gets stronger and stronger.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PS Vita

This is very much a character-driven story, and the dual protagonists work well as a counterpoint to each other. The young, happy Escha uses the old-fashioned titular Atelier to synthesise items, while Logy uses the most modern methods of alchemy to craft equipment. Escha & Logy was the first Atelier title to offer two different stories based on the choice of a male or female protagonist. While it's worth a playthrough on both, it's not essential; there is a single overarching story here, and the difference between each is just expanding the world, as opposed to two individual tales. Where the story does diverge is at its conclusion; there are plenty of endings worth keeping save files for to experience.

The cast expands beyond the pair of protagonists quickly, with new faces and returning characters from other titles joining both the R&D team and the party for excursions into the wilds of the Dusk Lands on a very regular basis. During these expeditions, a party is made up of up to six characters from the larger cast. This party is split into active and reserve, with three members in each. Those in the reserve group cannot take actions but will recover their HP and MP, along with being able to support via assist attacks and take a hit for an active member if the team has filled enough into the "Support Gauge".

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PS Vita

The turn-based combat is a little too easy, but the actual mechanics are solid with surprising amounts of depth, utilising positioning and area of effect abilities along with extra features, such as this "Support Gauge". Any action adds to the gauge, and it can then be expended to perform extra attacks or to nominate a party member to take a hit in place of another. It adds an extra level of planning regarding when to save energy to be able to spread the damage and when to burn through it to burst damage, and if enough attacks are chained together, it will result in a special attack for massive damage.

Combat is just part of the expeditions. There is also the harvesting of alchemic materials and the completion of tasks for R&D. These actions, along with the Alchemic Synthesis, all contribute to the passing of time. There are 10 chapters or "terms" to play through, and each is split into a set amount of days. Choosing how to spend that time, with each action taking a few hours or a few days, requires some pre-planning, especially when it comes to achieving all of the Assignments for the term. There are 25 of these laid out in a grid - the first nine are revealed immediately as goals to work towards, and the rest are revealed upon completion of these nine.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PS Vita

Only the very centre assignment is required to progress, but the others are all worth completing, both for the rewards they give and because they are genuinely fun to work through. They encourage experimentation in every aspect of the game, requesting specific alchemical creations, a set area to be explored, or a specific enemy defeated. There is another reason to complete every optional assignment, however: much like the combat, the time management aspects are far too easy to succeed at, leaving each term with lots of free time. It would have been great to see some extra difficult dungeons or more assignments added to help alleviate this.

Those who have already played the original on PS3 will find enough here to reinvest some time, especially if they enjoyed it the first time. There are plenty of additions and expansions on the story and the relationships, most importantly the relationship between the two protagonists. There are new bosses, areas, and cosmetics from the DLC to the original game, and there are also new playable characters joining the party, including Nio, the protagonist from the previous Dusk Atelier title.

The jump to Vita is a superb choice, with the style of gameplay being a perfect fit for a handheld. Each aspect, from the exploration and battling out in the world, to the alchemy, to just wandering the town and progressing the story, is balanced to short chunks that are ideal for pick-up-and-put-down play.

Screenshot for Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A perfect example of a "Just five more minutes!" game, Atelier Escha & Logy is superbly addictive and fun. It has truly found a home on the Vita. Those who have not yet tried any of the titles in this long-running series will find this a great jumping-in point and will likely then be inspired to track down and play through the other titles. Filled with a relaxed charm and its own unique style, the developers at Gust have brought something quite special with the Atelier series, and this title is certainly a highpoint in its considerable history.




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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