The Atelier series has been one of the strongest franchises on the Vita: a plethora of enhanced ports have graced the handheld in the past, but how does Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea measure up? We’ll take a look at it, both as a standalone experience, and as part of the larger Atelier universe.
Let’s start with the obvious: Atelier games look great on the Vita. KT have had a long, long time now to perfect their engine and refine it to the point where it can max out the Vita’s somewhat limited and aging hardware. Yes, there are some occasional framedrops, and yes, the visual fidelity isn’t quite PS3-standard, but for a Vita AA RPG, Atelier games in general look and run great on the Vita. This particular little gem is no exception, and I’m happy to report that, aside from some cutscenes and very extreme environmental changes and camera angles, it’s smooth sailing all the way.
Another great thing about the game’s presentation is the voice-acting: whether you choose English or Japanese voice acting (which in and of itself is quite cool that you can choose), you get, as is usual with KT releases, the best in the business. I’m particularly fond of the Japanese voice actors though, at least for the most part (P4G being a notable exception), so I spent my time listening to their graceful recreations of the dialog. What a joy.
Atelier games are all about the synthesis system when it comes to gameplay, and this entry into the franchise gets a lot of things right: you travel around gathering ingredients and developing recipes, and then synthesizing your stuff at your cauldron. It seems like pretty standard Atelier stuff, but they’ve streamlined the process making it more intuitive to use, and easier to get around as well.
The story won’t break any new ground, but as always the characters are very lovable and you’ll surely end up liking (and disliking) at least a couple of NPCs quite a lot. The Atelier franchise is quite good at developing character arcs, if not at breaking new ground in terms of plot, so you’ll never find yourself mindlessly grinding and avoiding the NPCs and interactions around the game world.
They’ve also done away with the “day” system, which makes it easier for the player to complete quests and reach objectives.
Overall, this is a better version of an already pretty great entry into the Atelier franchise. That’s high praise, considering Atelier games have amassed a very well-earned following both in the West and in Japan as well. If you’re even remotely interested in Atelier games, or games with RPG and crafting elements, I cannot recommend Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea enough.
At a glance:
- Title: Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Developer: Koei Tecmo / GUST
- Format: PSN Download / Physical
- Memory Card Space Required: 3.03GB
- Cross Buy: No.
- Cross Save: No.
- PlayStation TV Compatible: TBC