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[Review] The Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack - How Much Mystery Remains?

The Atelier series has a vast amount of games under its belt, and the new Atelier Deluxe Trilogy Pack consists of 3 green thumb inducing gems all rolled into one potent concoction, but what is it that makes each of these three titles so great?

Since their original releases on now outdated consoles, three of the most enjoyable Atelier games have now been re-released in this brand new deluxe pack, containing all previously released DLC along with some fresh, new extras thrown in. Included within Gust's latest release is Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Book, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, and Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. This is also the chronological order in which these three should be played for the best experience.

I have played several of the Atelier games previously, but Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Book is the one I have put the most hours into, and that was on the PS Vita.

The Atelier games consist of stories that all follow a similar theme - The protagonist is an adept Alchemist who must embark on a journey to grow their abilities, test themselves and become the best at what they do. Along the way they'll meet new characters, solve mysterious, resolve situations and it's all done in a very light-hearted JRPG fashion.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Book

Atelier Sophie is the first of the three titles within this series and follows the story of Sophie, an inept alchemist living in the outskirts of a small town, who has inherited her grandmother's Atelier, but despite her best efforts, constantly fails at the craft. That is until she comes across a mysterious book that essentially becomes her mentor, sending Sophie on a magical journey to restore the mysterious book to its former glory.

If you're familiar with the Atelier series you'll know some of the games have time restraints, but thankfully Atelier Sophie does away with that and takes a slightly different approach in that while time passes constantly for every action you take - Moving on the World Map, collecting ingredients, creating items and resting, it only dictates which enemies appear and when. For example, you'll fight stronger enemies at night and find different collectibles depending on what time of the day it is. What this isn't is a game where you're forced to complete quests within a certain time limit.

That said, crafting consists of using collected ingredients and placing them on a grid. Each ingredient has a certain shape and the main focus is to place them on the grid with as little overlap as possible, increasing the quality of the items you create.

Battles are turn-based with a timeline that shows the actions of both characters and enemies alike, and your party can choose to take offensive or defensive stances. While an offensive stance is best for dealing the most damage, you run the risk of taking more damage, but this is reversed for the defensive stance, which while it mitigates damage received, you'll be much weaker with the attacks you dish out.

While the Characters of Atelier Sophie all have their own unique and distinct abilities/personalities, the characters as a whole are sadly underwhelming. Very few characters are also able to use items and while this isn't the end of the world, items can be a huge advantage in the midst of battle.

That said, Atelier Sophie has one of the strongest gameplay loops in the series, at least for me. There's always something going on, even when you're not progressing the story (though this doesn't happen often) and during my first few hours into the game, I found myself constantly in cutscene after cutscene, unlocking new areas whilst trying to find recipe memos or ingredients. There are also plenty of requests that you can undertake by visiting the bar, which is a great way of obtaining new ingredients, recipes and making some money on the side.

With all these different systems in place, Atelier Sophie is a strong entry in the series, and while the rest of the Mysterious games adopt these same ideas in their own way, I don't blame them because this is a tried and tested way of keeping the games fresh, with plenty to do on your journey. The only thing I am disappointed with is the fact the graphics have been toned down compared to the previously released version of this title. I can only assume this was due to hardware limitations of the Nintendo Switch. Perhaps it made financial sense to develop just one version of the game for all platforms, which naturally would be limited by the least powerful console, but then I find this hard to believe because Atelier Firis and Atelier Lydie & Suelle look great. I guess it's as mysterious as the title would suggest.

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey

Atelier Firis is the second of the series and follows the Story of Firis who wishes to explore the great wide world outside of the secluded mining town she lives within.

Having never left the town previously, she makes way on her adventure (at her parents disapproval) where she meets Sophie and Plachta (of Atelier Sophie). Through meeting these two, Firis is able to advance her skills, gaining confidence in her own abilities as she learns how to survive.

Unlike Atelier Sophie however, Atelier Firis does have timed events, the first of which triggers right at the beginning of the game and then again after you leave the village for the first time. What Atelier Firis improves upon however, are the more open, interesting and vivid locations you'll find yourself discovering.

Item Synthesis differs slightly as panels now have visual lines marking where and how they'll fit into place, and the objective here is to connect these lines to increase bonuses. You're also no longer bound to one location when performing Synthesis, because this time around both Firis and the Atelier are on a constant journey. Instead, you can now set up the Atelier at camp sites, which can now be decorated to offer different special effects.

Atelier Firis also offers new ways of collecting materials to learn new synthesis recipes. Firis' expanded open world is great as it creates new paths and fresh ways to traverse the world later on in the story. This is a feature that became a staple of the Atelier series and is something we see expanded upon in later games.

While Atelier Firis' battle system doesn't differ much from its predecessor, you are now able to use four characters at a time. Items this time around also have an effect that changes depending on what time of the day it is, and while all characters can use a variety of items, only Alchemists are truly capable of using them all. Characters are pretty diverse this time around, and while I came to like and even grow attached to some of the new characters (despite many coming across as underwhelming), Sophie and Plachta's return was very much welcomed, and Sophie's kindness toward Firis at the beginning of the game is something I didn't expect, yet it made me love her as a character even more.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings

The final Chapter in the Mysterious sub-series of games is the direct sequel to Atelier Firis and takes place 4 years later.

Twins Lydie and Suelle live with their father within an Atelier. Their father however has secrets of his own, as he forbids the twins from entering the basement whilst living there.

With curiosity getting the better of them, one day the twins decide to investigate the basement during their fathers absence after hearing a voice from below. As they go against their fathers wishes, they find themselves transported to a strange new world inside a series of paintings, serving as the main plot and theme of the game.

Of the three entries included within this pack, Lydie and Suelle is by far the title with the most vibrant looking locations, and with each area absolutely brimming with collectibles, you'd be forgiven if you spent too much time collecting over synthesising or progressing the story. The timer is back this time around, but is respectable in how generous it can be. If you played Atelier Firis though, by this point you should know what to expect.

At their core, the battles you'll have all take on the same formula as before, but Lydie and Suelle does make a small amount of changes to shake things up a bit. For example, this time there are two rows (the front and the back) and once you've progressed enough through the story, you'll be able to fight with a party of six - three characters fight at the front, whole the other three rest. When certain conditions are met, the back three characters can then get in on the action by performing follow up attacks to aid the frontline combatants.

I've been very light on what I've said about the story to avoid spoilers, but while Atelier Lydie & Suelle has a great story, it feels backwards in its approach with a less-open world of which Atelier Firis did so well. That said, Lydie and Suelle is a visually stunning game with a deeply charming story, so it's definitely still worth your time.

Overall, can I recommend buying the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack as a whole?

If you've already played the three games included (along with their DLC), then I'd say it's unlikely, because with the exception of a new trophy list and a few new episodes, these really are just the same three games you've already played before. However, with all of the previously released DLC now included with these new DX versions, along with the addition of a new Photo mode and Fast-Forward feature (for faster paced battles), if you're just getting into the Atelier series then I cannot recommend this Trilogy enough.

Great Game! is the second highest rating we award and is reserved
for great titles that still have a little room for improvement.

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