Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk Review
One of the longest running series of the past 19 years has been the Atelier games brought to us by Gust. Spanning several systems and generations the JRPG series that is known for its light hearted stories and likable characters is now starting to have some of its installments remade and revamped. The original Atelier Ayesha was brought to the states back in 2013 on the Playstation 3 system but now we have the Playstation Vita version called Atelier Ayesha Plus. The new version of the game features all the previous downloadable content from its predecessor, as well as entirely new content and features in the form of additional characters, costumes, etc, and the new feature of being able to switch out party members at any time. Fans of the series are sure to like that due to the fact that the game does have different endings based upon what you do with different characters. But lets go ahead and jump right in.
For newcomers to the series, Atelier Ayesha is a turn based JRPG style game where you play as the Alchemist/Apothecary Ayesha. The general plot revolves around Ayesha trying to find out if her long lost sister who went missing is actually dead or still alive somewhere. Her only hint being a glowing flower, vision of her sister, and the words of a stranger, Ayesha sets out on a journey meeting many friends and discovering what it really means to be an alchemist along the way. The game is very light hearted with lots of comedy and pleasant (sometimes overly pleasant) characters which is a nice turn away from the doom and gloom norm of modern rpg’s. The party members you recruit are a very wide variety of personalities all with their own stories that get you attached to them. Ranging from a young which in training, to an emotionless body guard, to a robotic librarian….there’s plenty of content here to get you hooked.
The combat system is turn based with a few twists thrown in. All three characters have a gauge at the bottom of the screen that acts like an action gauge. For example your first turn you choose to use a physical attack with Ayesha. You’ll have a few seconds to decide if you want to deplete that action gauge for another character to have them immediately follow up with a back attack of their own for additional damage. This gauge will continue to increase if you choose not to use it which potentially leads to some clever and powerful combo attacks. The items you use in battle (or anywhere for that matter) are primarily made through Alchemy. The alchemy in the game is exactly what you’d expect, the combination of two or more items that you must meticulously hunt and gather in the wild. The game is very heavily based upon your alchemy skills and often will lead to hours of gathering materials with different characters to find just the right combo for that special item or set of equipment you want to create.
The soundtrack in the game is very well done and sets the tone perfectly. I often found myself humming along with all the tunes without realizing it but in a good way. The cel-shaded graphics and art work are beautiful as well giving a bright life to the world in the game. The only true downside that I myself found was the atrocious amount of frame rate issues. There will be moments walking into a town or building where certain characters will appear for the first time and the game takes a good 10 seconds or longer to have all the npc’s actually show up on screen. Sometimes the player’s avatar will slow down considerably for a few seconds as well which was quite annoying at best. Although this was only a minor issue I felt it happened way to often.
Overall Atelier Ayesha Plus is an excellent addition to the ever growing Playstation Vita library. Id highly recommend it to any RPG fan or someone looking to try something new that isn’t a hardcore gamer. The game is very relaxed and enjoyable to play while still being addicting enough to make you want to know what’s going to happen next. Newcomers to the series or die hard fans can both jump into this title immediately with no trouble what so ever. 7.5 out of 10. Happy Gaming.