In Gust and Koei Tecmo's upcoming title, Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists moves away from the open world style of previous Atelier titles and focuses more on town building this time around. Is this a good move and something fans will love, or perhaps too wild of a departure for many of the series fans to get on board with?
Last Wednesday I was invited along to a press event for Koei Tecmo's next entry in the Atelier series; Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World. Now I know what you're thinking - "That title is a bit of a mouthful". That much is true, though KT are going for something a little different this time around, but fear not for the spirit of Atelier very clearly remains at the heart of this game.
If you don't already know, the Atelier series is one of Koei Tecmo's main RPG series. Each Atelier title features a number of Animé inspired characters and though you could argue the series is catered more towards a female audience, there are enough gameplay elements for male and female gamers to enjoy it alike.
Fans of the series have a lot to look forward to in Nelke, because this latest title serves as Atelier's 20th Anniversary and to celebrate, practically every character from across the entirety of the Atelier series is making an appearance this time around, be it in playable form or in story and dialogue. This is big news for fans and really shows that Koei Tecmo are going all out on the fan service this time around. People have been playing the Atelier series for 20 years, so this is KT's way of rewarding their fans.
Interestingly enough, Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists is more a town building game than your average RPG. The game starts by giving you an in-depth tutorial on the basics of town building, starting you off with crop fields and a small grocery store, and from there it's up to you on how you'd like to go about building up your town and managing your resources.
In order to build new constructions you'll need specific resources and money. The easiest way to get this is by fighting and winning against the monstrous threats that lurk within the local region. Construction also takes time, so the game encourages you to work towards your more important goals at hand and this is where the micro management comes into play. It's not a bad way to do things, but it is quite a simple approach, though I feel this will only serve to welcome newcomers to the series.
Combat not only serves to rake in the constructions materials and money needed to build them, but also levels up your characters, as expected in any basic RPG. This is important however, because the characters you play can be assigned to any of your main facilities/constructions and the higher level they are, the more abilities they'll have to benefit your town. In addition to the monsters you'll have to face, investigations will allow you to gather items that are helpful to the development of your town and if you investigate enough, you'll even be able to expand your town.
As far as construction goes, you're given a grid system that seems to expand over the course of the game, and are able to freely place any of your crops, walls, paths, stores and other helpful buildings anywhere within this grid. It's simple, easy to follow and means that no two players are likely to have the exact same town. It isn't however, for the hardcore RPG fans. This is a game that caters more towards the casual RPG fans who play more for therapeutic reasons. Don't expect any hardcore challenges here, as this likely isn't the game for you.
That being said, Ateliers lovely artstyle oozes charm and character. The colours are nice, tutorials welcoming and though I personally felt the dialogue went on for far too long, my small amount of time spent with the latest in the Atelier series has proven that there's a lot of content here for fans of the series to fully immerse themselves within the world of Atelier.
Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World will be released for PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch on March 26th. Currently there is no word of an Xbox One release.
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