Game: Atelier Ayesha, the Alchemist of Dusk DX
Genre: RPG/ simulation
System: Nintendo Switch
Developers| Publishers : Gust| Koei Tecmo
Age Rating: EU 16+| US T
Price: £ 35.99| €39,99| US $39.99 | AU $60.00|CA $52.91
Release Date: 14th January 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to OnePR
Years ago Atelier Ayesha on the PS Vita was my second Atelier experience. With Atelier Rorona I had discovered the long-running series, and I was very happy that the Vita was host to more Atelier games. Now, the Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming a haven for all Atelier fun. So I’m pretty pleased to have another go at the Atelier Dusk series, starting off with Atelier Ayesha. Let’s get back into that beautiful world and follow Ayesha Altugle and her friends!
A sign of life
Ayesha is a cheerful girl with a sweet disposition, despite her circumstances. She lives alone after her sister Nio mysteriously disappeared. Her little house stands in the middle of nowhere, and she gets by by making medicine for those that need it, calling herself an apothecary. Everyday she visits Nio’s Memorial together with her faithful cow Pana, recounting the events of the day. One day, when she’s just turning to leave after leaving a small gift for her (a bag of sweets) Nio appears before her very eyes. Shimmering and silent, obviously not in the same place as Ayesha is, but a sign of life nonetheless!
A mysterious older man has seen it too, and tells her that her sister is still alive. Ayesha can be the one to save her, if she applies herself to becoming an alchemist and to travel the world looking for clues about the special flowers growing around the memorial. Ayesha doesn’t have to think twice, together with her cow Pana she sets off on her journey. Hopefully she can save Nio in the three years that have been given to her.
You’ve got to admire her, packing up and leaving just like that! I have found over the years that the character of the girl that is the heroine in the Atelier story is very important to me. And Ayesha is one that has a special place in my heart. Her story is an emotional one, but she is brave, cheerful and sweet natured. And if you have lost someone yourself, it’s so easy to relate to her quest.
Time it ticking on
Atelier Ayesha is, of course, an older game, first released in 2012. This means that if you are playing the current day Atelier games like Ryza, you’ll notice some different gameplay. Here, you have a set amount of time to clear the game. And every action you do, like traveling and synthesis, costs time. Traveling means going from dot to dot on the over-world map, of course these dots are towns or fields to visit.
Gather ingredients when you can for your synthesis, fight the monsters you meet in the field and chat to the people you meet. Locations with an exclamation mark are places where you will find events to progress either the main story or the side stories involving characters you have met. The map is big with lots to do and after progressing in the game, you can even buy yourself an air balloon to get a farther reach.
Although you only have three years to complete the main story, it is certainly do-able. There’s ample time to look over Ayesha’s shoulder at the lives of the people she meets. And depending on how much effort you put into your friendship with Marion, or Fred the Baker for instance, more of the story is shown.
Memories influence the game
Ayesha has several home bases, so it’s easier to travel around and still not lose too many days to find a place to synthesise new bombs and potions. Nice for Pana too, otherwise she’d have to lug the big alchemy kettle around!
The diary feature was introduced to the series in this game. After certain events, you can choose to unlock a diary entry of an event with memory points you accumulated. To do so, you have to open the separate Memory Diary in the room where your save feature and alchemy pot are. Memory points can be obtained from finishing quests, events, and finding flyers or even for talking to people. The nice things is, you’ll get bonuses from some memories, like recipes. Plus, it influences the way the game will progress and what ending you achieve.
An earlier version of the synthesis system
Aside from battle, you have to synthesize to progress in the game. People will ask you to make them things or do quests, which will fill up your purse. Keep an eye on the shops, as new recipes are learnt from the recipe books you can buy.
Synthesis costs time too. As I’ve played Atelier Ryza just last week I was surprised to see how different the synthesis system was, I’d completely forgotten. Not in its basic idea of synthesizing, more in the way the system Works and the visual aspect of it.
Of course, you still need specific ingredient or group of ingredients to make an item. Each ingredient has a quality, a value in several elements like fire, earth and wind. The ingredient can have an effect or a trait and a specific property like being very small, all of which can be inherited by the item you make.
If you’ve played more Atelier games, you’ll recognize many of these terms. In the beginning you have very little influence in the process. Later on, as your alchemy level rises, you’ll become able to change the order in which ingredients are thrown in, use skills, and more. All of this influences the item you make.
A little less active but not turn based
You can take two of the friends you have met during your journey into battles with you. Or rather, while you are foraging for ingredients and you come across monsters in the field, you fight them together. Each of them has his or her own trademark weapons. Marion uses guns, the little witch Wilhelm has her magic, while Linca has a mean sword. I mean, isn’t her sword a bit big for her to carry around?
When you deal damage to monsters and perform other actions, your support gauge will be filled. After that gauge has been filled, you can use an Active command during battle, making the battle easier. Of course, bringing attack items along helps too!
Although the battles are action based, it’s a little slower then later games. Hesitate too long though and you will still lose your turn. But it’s no hectic button mashing, fine by me!
A feast for the senses
I love it that Atelier Ayesha has English voices, though that is very personal I guess. The music is good, and has a soundtrack that I’d love to add to my gaming music playlist.
In the menu you can change the BGM (Back Ground Music) for different places in the game like in all ateliers, or during battles. And you can even choose to play the BGM from another Atelier game on the long, long list.
In the save menu you also find the dressing room, letting you choose and outfit and headgear for Ayesha and some of your friends. Though I wonder how she can battle in this Passion Cloth with Straw Hat!
The game has a nostalgic feeling to it, the areas you visit are beautiful. They have a dreamy like quality, like the domed herb garden for instance, that could well be the garden of Eden, but then years after civilisation has left it. The little movie clips are very good on the Nintendo Switch, and it sets a mood to the game that absolutely draws me in.
If you are an Atelier fan, Atelier Ayesha is a good addition to your collection. In every Atelier game the synthesis and battle system is slightly different. Still, I feel Atelier Ayesha is the game that made an impact on me mainly because of the story. Plus, every Atelier game is unique because of the character, and Ayesha really is my kind of girl! So I’ll stick to my verdict from all those years ago:
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot