Game Review #485: Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Robert Krause
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: 1.14.2020
Buy Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
The Atelier Dusk Trilogy began on June 28th, 2012 with the release of Atelier Ayesha on PlayStation 3, followed by Atelier Escha & Logy on June 27th, 2013, and Atelier Shallie on July 17th, 2014. Over the course of the decade, the trilogy was release on PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam in various Deluxe Editions. The animation of the games varies from visual novel to full anime quality video.
The trilogy follows 5 different alchemists’ individual storylines that all intertwine into a larger arc that the land they live in is dying, with core gameplay involving the creation of items with Alchemy to assist you in exploring the world and helping your region fight back the desolation, supported by a rather unique turn-based combat that focuses on item use and character support. Each installment has several unique endings, depending on the character you choose to play and how you complete the game.
This trilogy is available on the Nintendo Switch as a Deluxe Pack, which includes all 3 games, or you can purchase them each separately. Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the pieces of the trilogy…
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX
Release Date: 1.14.2020 (Switch) / 6.28.2012 (Original)
A Girl, A Ghost, and Oink Moo
Atelier Ayesha is the first game of the Atelier Dusk Trilogy, and the DX version for the Switch comes with all of the previous add-ons and DLCs. It also has new features of toggling run and speeding up combat.
You play as Apothecary Ayesha, a young girl who lives alone in workshop making medicine for the villages and towns around her. Ayesha visits a ruin where her sister, Nio, was "spirited away" to drop off a gift, and she is met by what appears to be Nio's ghost. A traveling Alchemist, name Keithgriff—a popular name among opium den patrons—informs her that the glowing flowers around them caused the vision, and that Nio can be brought back using the power of alchemy, but Ayesha only has three years to learn how, or Nio will be gone forever.
The game centers around Ayesha's traveling of the world to learn alchemy, with the assistance of the friends she meets along the way, and her cow, Pana. Oink Moooooo.
Harvest, Mix, Throw, DESTROY!
Based off a turn-based combat system, Atelier Ayesha has a few tricks up its sleeve to keep you wanting to explore for ingredients and find monsters to try out your new concoctions. Ayesha herself is weak, compared to her companions, and even with upgrading her weapons, you'll still want to use her alchemy creations as her main attacks, crafting anything from bombs to health items and power ups. Another nice addition is the support system where characters not currently being controlled can assist in an attack, or support to take an attack. You can also use a "Move" command to strategically place characters in positions to do more damage.
There are 7 playable characters, not counting the two from DLC, that you can add to your party. Each with their own skill sets and abilities. As you move from location to location within the game, you'll use up days that count toward the 3-year time limit you have to rescue Nio. This prevents you from being able to continuously go around the map leveling and harvesting to get stronger if you want to save Nio.
The crafting of the game is in-depth, and can be overwhelming at the beginning. After every venture out into the world, you return to a base you setup, and you can deposit all of the ingredients into a container so you're not carrying it all around. There are numerous items you can create to help along the way, from potions, ranged weapons, equipment, and rare components. Once you get used to your fighting style and what you need though, it becomes second nature. You'll also be able to pick up deliveries from NPCs throughout the game that will reward you with better items if you complete them in the time required.
To help with keeping track of your quests and deliveries, Ayesha has a diary in which she places her information. There is a memory system that that allows you to use your points from battle and exploration to write in your diary and receive rewards for. You can also collect flyers throughout the game—if you think 3 years is plenty of time to goof off. There is also a dressing room where you can change Ayesha's clothes, if you are into that.
Atelier Ayesha has a mix of animation techniques, from FMV to visual novel at times. The style and animation is beautiful and very colorful, but the game does suffer from frame rate drops in towns and random battles. The voice acting is pretty good, especially for a game that tries to keep a silly tone to itself. From Ayesha's obliviousness to Emo Juris, the voice actors aren't just reading to get through it. The soundtrack is also well done, and keeps an upbeat tone for the most part.
While visual novel RPGs aren't my cup of tea, Atelier Ayesha was still fun to play, once you got free reign in the semi-open world. The storyline makes you care if Ayesha gets Nio back, and the ability in this version to toggle run and speed up combat keeps it from bogging down. This was my first Atelier game in what is a very large series, and I'll probably come back to it in-between major releases. The storyline runs about 25 hours, if you focus on just that.
Buy Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX
Release Date: 1.14.2020 (Switch) / 6.27.2013 (Original)
Working for the Man
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is a sequel to Atelier Ayesha, and second of the Dusk Trilogy. It has a separate storyline, built in the same world, that features reoccurring characters. The DX version comes with all the add-ons and DLCs that were released previously, as well as with the new arrivals to the trilogy of being able to run and speed up combat animations.
This time around, you get to choose between two protagonists, Escha and Logy. Escha is an energetic and upbeat young woman from Colseit, the city out of which the game is based, and Logy is a newcomer from Central City who is more level-headed and patient. Both are hired to the R&D department of Colseit to advance their alchemic skills, and eventually become strong enough to explore floating ruins above the city that no one has managed to reach yet. Much like the previous game, you'll be spending your time exploring sections of the map to defeat monsters and find supplies for your experiments, while meeting familiar faces and unraveling the story of the ruins.
Government Oversight and Quotas
The first several hours of Atelier Escha & Logy is basically a long tutorial and new job orientation all wrapped up in one. Ever wanted to know how government funding and quotas work? Well, I have great news for you if the answer is yes! As with Atelier Ayesha, this game has a time limit mechanic you are working against. You are given a quarterly assignment as a main goal. Along with it, you have several minor assignments you can complete and earn a stamp for. The more you complete, the better the rewards and skill you get.
The core gameplay is based around your alchemy, which has been slightly updated and is a bit less complex. Escha specializes in regular alchemy with the cauldron crafting food, potions, and bombs, and Logy, who is used to more advanced alchemy, synthesizes your armor and weapon types, and uses skills to enhance elemental traits of the creations.
Exploring the map takes days away from your quarterly countdown as you travel from one region to another, opening up sub-locations to battle with monsters and collect ingredients. Gathering is streamlined in this version; you only have to click an area once to pick up all components, as opposed to button-mashing to get them all. As you defeat all monsters and gather all collectibles in an area, an optional battle/reward will appear. You can choose between either fighting tougher monsters or changing the amount and type of ingredients you discover. Carefully stocking your exploration team with bombs and healing items is key to completing most regions in one trip, otherwise you'll be backtracking to town, losing days to return again later. You can fill out members of your party by recruiting some of the cities shop keepers, like Linca. Logy also likes to spend his time yelling at barrels, as I can only assume they were the only friends he had as a child.
The combat is still as fluid as before, with the support abilities and moving to create advantage on attacks, but I didn't find the battles needing as much support from my alchemy as previously in Ayesha. The characters all seemed to do a decent amount of damage with their normal attacks paired with support and the skill attacks. A nicely-placed bomb on a group of 5 monsters, though, is always beneficial. The battle speed increase is very helpful in keeping your play time down, as the skills can make battles stretch out from their animations.
Visually, the game is gorgeous. The character and monster models are colorful and crisp over the backgrounds that can be a bit blurry at times. Unlike Ayesha, I noticed no frame drops on this version. I really like the skill attack animations, even though they can drag out a battle once the awe wears off. The voice acting is well done; most awkward lines are left to just text. Additionally, the soundtrack is good, and I never found myself wanting to mute it because of repetition.
Even with the long tutorial and introduction, I found myself really enjoying this game more than Atelier Ayesha. Escha and Logy didn't seem as hopeless and dim-witted as their predecessor. The way the game presented the assignments and time management didn't feel as pressured to me, so I could explore and try to level my characters more. The slight changes in alchemy and combat were a major plus. Even though this isn't a series that will have the more in-depth RPG elements or heavy world-exploring I like from, say Final Fantasy, I still had to force myself to stop playing at times, even though I wanted to see what was next. This could easily be a favorite of mine with no time constraints so I can max level characters and weapons, as the alchemy is that enjoyable. Game play will run you 30+ hours to finish, up to 40 if you take all your time provided and visit everyone in the city multiple times. Unfortunately, no Oink Moos in this game.
Buy Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX
Release Date: 1.14.2020 (Switch) / 7.17.2014 (Original)
Two Shallie's, One Dusk
For the finale of the Dusk Trilogy, Atelier Shalliecombines all the successful mechanics of the previous two games with none of the time-constraint pressure. Like Escha & Logy, you get to choose between two protagonists, both young female alchemists named Shallie. Shallistera, the daughter of a village chief, who is trying to save her village from the drought, and Shallote, a young alchemist in the city of Stellard, the main hub of the game, who wants to prove herself as more than a street sweeper. As you play through the chapters of the game, both Shallies’ stories begin to intertwine, and familiar faces from the previous installments make their way onto your team to finally try and save the land of Dusk.
Tiiiiiiiiiiime Is On My Side, Yes It Is
Instead of a diary or job assignments to keep track of your progress and missions, you have a Life Task System. With no time mechanic to push you toward a main goal, you have plenty of chances to explore the world and collect ingredients for the various main Life Tasks that you have. Centered around the main tasks are smaller objectives that will provide you with experience and skills. This makes it much easier to max out stats on weapons, armor, and explosives that you'll need to craft for battles later in the game.
Exploration is the same, with a world map that has locations you must complete before unlocking a further path. Ruin locations now stand out more on the map, and generally provide the better materials and tougher fights.
The combat is the turn-based, with parties of up to 6 characters that can still assist or protect each other. Rotating characters from the front to the back allows them to recover MP. The new addition to the combat system is the "Burst" meter; much like the Stagger Meter in games out now, once you have filled the Burst Meter, your characters do increased damage to the enemies.
As always with Atelier games, the alchemy is incredibly in-depth. Atelier Shallie makes the process even more streamlined during the synthesis process. New panels on the ingredient cards allow you to place upgrades to try for the strongest result possible, while you can still monitor the elemental power in the window below. Finding the right balance for your inventions is much easier this go around, since you can go back out as you please for more materials to either sell, turn in for experience, or craft more items.
The visuals are beautiful and colorful as always, even with most of the world being set in a desert wasteland. New FMV cut scenes look like a well done anime, and the return of previous characters gives more story to see, as they also wrap up their storylines as well. The voice acting is well done, with only a couple characters that feel forced in their emotions. The soundtrack is one of the best parts of the game, from the intro song to the guitar-heavy battle fights.
This was, without a doubt, my favorite of the trilogy. The storyline they built up coming to a climax with previous characters returning and having more development was great. The minor adjustments they made to the alchemy and combat once again brought the game to a new level, especially with the removal of the time mechanic. If you've never played an Atelier game, this is a good game to jump in at, but I would recommend starting with Ayesha for the storyline pay off.
Buy Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Overall Trilogy Score: 8.5/10
Buy Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Follow Gust Co. Ltd.
Follow Koei Tecmo Official Page:
*Game codes were provided for review purposes