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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #251: Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Jordan M.

Developer: GUST


Category: Simulation, Roleplaying, Action

Release Date: 03.26.2019

Price (at time of review): $59.99 (digital & physical, regular) | $99.99 (physical, limited)

Buy Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World from Amazon here.

Buy Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World from NISA store here.

In The Spirit of Creation

The legendary Granzweit Sage long ago used his powers to create alchemy in order to enrich the lives of all people around the world. He also created ancient sage relics which are scattered around the Earth. Finding these items is an important task the whole nation makes a top priority. You are Nelke Von Lestamm. Even though you had long dreamed of becoming an alchemist, unfortunately… how do I put this kindly... you were terrible at it! So, you've decided to become a civil servant instead! Now you've traveled here to Westwald with your faithful maid Misty in search of one of these ancient relics. However, we can't just spend all our free time searching for it. With our father being Lord of the village, you have been appointed the new official administrator! Now, it’s up to us to help grow this village and see it prosper. Get ready to build all-new parts of the city, research new items and abilities, and help Westwald become the dream town it has always had the potential to be.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists is a new game in the famous Atelier series. If you have never had a chance to play one of the games, you have for sure at least heard of them. From dozens of regular and side games spanning over every generation of the Playstation and also being featured on Game Boy, Nintendo DS, Dreamcast, and Saturn (you name it they're on it pretty much) they have always been a big voice in the world of gaming. This is their 20th anniversary game and as I see it, a bit of a "thank you" to all the fans who have played over the years. This game is bringing you classic characters from other games in the series over the years and basically inviting them to come live in a small town with you and work with you in whatever ways necessary to help it grow and also to help you search for the missing legendary relic of the ancient sage.

Who Gonna Run This Town

It is up to you to build all kinds of different facilities throughout Westwald. Most of your basic buildings in the beginning are split between spots for your ateliers to synthesize, grocery stores, and general stores. However, later on you open up to a lot more specialized things such as weapons shops, cake shops, churches, and more. Once you have some alchemists arrive in town, you can start building ateliers so they have a place to synthesize goods. These goods can be sold in town for a profit after we pay our workers, costs for building, and any other expenses. To make profit, you can build grocery stores which can sell food items or ingredients, or a general store for your more general goods and items. Even more areas will come later.

Another thing important to running a whole town is making sure you're keeping your population fed. Vegetable gardens can produce items such as flour and vegetable oil, whereas tree groves can produce items like uni fruit and beehives, all of which are needed for crafting different individual goods. Each area over time will have several different types of items you can produce. It is important to keep an eye on your stock and if you're anything like me when you play a game like this, make sure you have plenty of each item stored up in your inventory. You never know when you will learn a new crafting recipe and need something you weren't expecting to need.

Each citizen in your town, regardless of if they are an alchemist or just a regular person, can be assigned a job. After all, these gardens and shops aren't just gonna run themselves, right? When assigning a townsperson to each individual location, you are able to view their stats. Each character has a letter grade showing what areas they are better or worse in. For example, Pamela, a character early in the game, may have a C- when it comes to running a grocery store, but a C+ in running a general store. We then know what area at that point she is better suited for. Character's stats can also be slightly improved over time. As you continue throughout the game, your character will accomplish achievements. These can be earned from having a certain amount of Cole (gold), completing citizen requests, building specific types of buildings, etc. Each time you earn an achievement, trade points are earned. These points can be invested into different types of bonuses which can then be gifted to individual characters. Trade points aren't easily earned so think carefully before investing them.

As stated before, one of the main reasons for Nelke being sent to Westwald is to see it grow into a thriving community. As anyone knows, one of the most important things for a bustling community is people. Throughout the game, you are given a series of different tasks to complete. Most of these are going to be centered around increasing the size of your population. This can be done in a few different ways. One is by increasing sales in your shops. When your sales increase it will boost your economy and lead to an overall increase in population. Population can also increase by completing sub tasks. Sub tasks are additional tasks added on to your main objective which will offer rewards upon completion. These mainly will add 50 or 75 people or so to your town at a pop, as well as increase the amount of your population limit overall which ain't too shabby. Every now and then your father will also ask you to accomplish certain tasks. These tasks can be a bit more difficult but have a substantial payout in the end.

What a Way To Make a Living

One half of the game is spent doing our administrative duties as a nine-to-five weekday working warrior. There is a lot to do in this area so I am going to walk you through it as if I were playing it myself. The first thing I do is bring up the information menu, which can be accessed by pressing the + key. The wishlist option allows you to put certain items on a wishlist, which, if you have people out in certain areas harvesting goods (which we will discuss later), will make those items somewhat of a priority. Throughout the game, characters will make certain requests of you. These are called citizen requests. Fulfilling these requests gives you not only increased friendship with the character, but also a little extra Cole (gold) in your pocket. Each character will have one of four types of requests. You will either be asked to hunt a specific type of enemy, gather specific items while on investigation or through synthesis, produce a specific amount of an item, or sell a number of items. Each task will give you so many turns in the game to complete it, so be mindful of the remainder each task has per each turn. By doing this you'll find none of them are too overwhelming to accomplish. Another important thing which can be done from the info menu is Reduction. Reduction is the process of breaking down items in order to make basic elements such as wind and water for synthesizing items. Different items when being produced require different amounts of these particular elements for synthesizing. Items when being reduced provide different amounts of these elements for your crafting needs. Make sure you are staying well stocked on all your basic elements and breaking down any items you aren't using or have a huge amount of.

The main weekday work screen also allows for Nelke to have the option to make requests. You have the ability to choose between each different job type or each individual character. The character select screen can also be filtered to choose between alchemists or regular townspeople. When selecting the job type screen, you are presented with several different options. Synthesize allows you to go to each of your individual ateliers and decide what products they will create for you. Each atelier will have their own request list. This list will show what different items you want to create and how many of each. Each item to be synthesized has its own individual "cost" to make. Each alchemist has a cost limit of how much they can create at one time. Their cost limit increases, however, as they level up. By leveling up this can also lower the cost of the item being synthesized. Make sure you have plenty of the materials needed for whatever item you are creating as the moment they are depleted you can't make any more and your alchemist gets irritated little wiggly icons on their menu and we all know no one likes that. You can delete any item added to your create list by pressing Y.

Using your weekday menu, you can also manage each of your individual stores. Each location is assigned one item to sell for the next turn. By selecting your merchandise settings menu, you can look at each item in your inventory that can be sold, the price at which it sells, and how many of the items you have in stock. Work hard to create a perfect balance of items being harvested, items being produced, and items being sold, and you'll start making some real Cole in no time. Another thing that can be controlled is our farm production. Here, it’s possible to check in on all our vegetable gardens, tree groves, ranches, and more. It's also possible to change what is being produced at each location. If you see you have a high stock of one item but very few of another, switch over to something else. You aren't impacted negatively in any way and can switch at any time. Sometimes individual townspeople will ask you to produce certain items which may require you to switch anyways.

One important thing during this part of the game is that this is where all the building takes place. Roads can be built throughout your building area in order to create more curbside access. It is important to make sure your buildings such as shops, ateliers, etc. are facing the streets or alleys, otherwise they can't be accessed by your townspeople. There are also decorations which can be added around each sector such as flowers, trees, fences, benches, and all sorts of other aesthetically pleasing items which grant different buffs such as higher sales for your general stores or lower construction costs of buildings. There are also special buildings which can be built later on to increase the happiness of your town and add even more special stats to your town’s specific sector.

The final thing needed to be done during our work day is the process of dispatching townspeople out into the surrounding areas in order to harvest resources for us during each turn. Characters can be assigned to multiple different locations at once, and more than one character can be sent to the same location if desired. Each character will also have a letter grade for their gathering abilities, as with the other skills we mentioned earlier. Try to pick people more suited for the task so you can stock up on as many goodies as possible. Finally, when all this is done and all our decisions have been made, it’s time to start the job and watch all our minions.. eerr, I mean, townspeople, scurry to do all their respective duties... that’s right do my bidding *softly cackles* oh wait you're still there? Sorry. Also remember, if any of this gets too overwhelming for you at any time, you can save and exit by accessing the game menu with the - button. At the end of your work day, you will be provided with a weekly report which will show your overall expenses, your earnings, how much of what was produced, sold, harvested, etc. and also will award points to whichever of your townspeople has ranked highest in their accomplishments for that particular week.

Vacation, Had To Get Away

The other half of your gameplay time is spent on holidays (which I'm not gonna lie, Nelke seems to take a lot of... don't tell her I said that). Holidays are basically your time to explore the surrounding areas, harvest resources, and get to know the townspeople a little more. One of the options during holidays is the option to visit with the other people around town. Each time you visit with a person, it will be for one of four different types of events. Just talking with the resident will allow you to access new moments within the story and can increase your level of friendship with whichever person you're checking in with. Special events, or a heart icon, increase your friendship with this particular person and also others within the town. Facility ideas reward you with new blueprints to build new facilities around Westwald. Finally, just like how others throughout the town will give requests for things, sometimes characters will come to you with a specific request. Whenever you complete one of these tasks your friendship increases with the character. Each time you visit with a character, it will take up some of the time on your holiday timer. Out of twelve little "pieces" of your timer (think of a pie) you will lose two per person visited. This can take time away from investigating surrounding areas.

Now that I mention it, let’s talk about going on investigations, shall we? Each time you're on holiday you are given the option to explore the map and harvest resources from the individual areas. Each location will have several different stages to it. Each stage will have its own specific resources to harvest. One area may have a specific ore you need, while the next one may have an exotic type of fruit which once brought back can be grown in town. In order to unlock the next area, you will need to reach the end of whichever stage you are currently on. This is an important reason why it’s good to leave yourself plenty of time when on holidays and have a careful balance of visiting and investigating. Luckily, your characters can run along the stage by pressing the R trigger. The only unfortunate side to running however is you aren't able to harvest resources while doing so. At the end of pretty much every stage - with a few exceptions - you will also find a treasure chest containing even more useful items. Each new section of a location will have to be unlocked with gold. There are also several other buffs per area you can purchase such as faster character movement, or bonuses to strength, defense, etc.

One other thing possible to do on holidays is invest into research. Research, if I may mention, can also be done during your weekday mode, and thankfully doesn't take any time away from your timer. There are several different areas of research for you to invest into, such as areas of investigation into the sage relic, the creation of new items, or building new parts of town, among others. Different areas of research will require several different types of rare materials and at times will even require you to be at a certain level of friendship with a person in town, or a certain level between several people combined. Make sure to visit with people in town often to keep your friendship levels high!

What a Wonderful World

I really enjoy the characters in this game. All the characters are well designed and absolutely adorable. As I mentioned before, this is an all-star cast of different characters from throughout twenty years of the Atelier series. The music is bright and uplifting and at times has reminded me of several different games - Dragon Quest XI, Stardew Valley, and even a little Octopath Traveler sprinkled in there - all of these solid soundtracks which I've really enjoyed. The voiceovers are only in Japanese with no English option provided, but if you've read any of my reviews before you know how I feel about American voice acting so the Japanese option is perfectly fine for me.

Will I Invest In This Town?

First off before I say anything, I want to apologize if I left anything out during this review, because there is a lot to cover and I could talk about it for a long time. That being said, I really enjoyed this game. If you are someone looking for a more traditional style RPG game, then this probably isn't going to be the game for you. This is much more of a crafting game meets a town building simulator with RPG elements. If that is a game type that interests you, then I think this is a game you will definitely want to sink your teeth into. I have a few problems with the game, however. I wish during investigations I had a little more control over the characters rather than them just walking along a predetermined path. I like that they learn some new abilities but I wish they were a little more customizable.

The game in the beginning I would say until reaching the completion of the second task can seem a little repetitive for a while. The banter between characters during investigations can also get repetitive quickly. Other than that this is a lovely game with an all-star cast of characters from throughout the series. The soundtrack is fun and uplifting and the game is colorful and honestly fun to play. The game is really pretty PG and is perfectly fine for kids even though it is a packed house of waifus. At full retail I think the game might be a little costly but I think if you caught it on sale it would definitely be worth grabbing. Thank you Koei Tecmo for all your hard work over the years and I wish you success on the Atelier series in the future.

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World from Amazon here.

Buy Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World from NISA store here.

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*Review Code Provided by One PR Studio

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