Better late then never: Atelier Rorona Plus, Alchemist of Arland

What a great feeling if you stumble upon a game out of an entire series of games, that turns out to be a great gaming experience. And knowing that when you want to, there are a lot of games in the series that you can play in future. It’s a feeling that all book-lovers will recognize, as it’s equal to reading a book, loving it and finding out that it’s the first part of an entire series. Good times ahead then for me, because I’ve found that I really like Atelier Rorona Plus; Alchemist of Arland. I found the game on the Vita, it’s one of the games that were originally released on the PS3 in 2009. It’s been remade by developer Gust in 2014. Only a couple have been released for the DS, most have been released for Playstation and some have been ported to the Vita or the PSP. I had heard of the Atelier games years ago when Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island was released for the DS in 2009. I had read about it but for whatever reason, I’d never giving it a chance. Looks like I will be making up for lost time now.

Ortega ruins, traveller's way, nabel lakeThe games are clustered: Rorona is the first of the Arland series, the second is Atelier Totori: the Adventurer of Arland and the last is Atelier Meruru: the apprentice of Arland. All three have been remade, so it looks like I’m in for a treat. The story behind the game is that the king of Arland would like to close down the Alchemy shop (don’t ask me why, I’ve not uncovered the entire plot yet), but presents it as a string of tasks that Rorona, who is actually the pupil of Alchemist Astrid, has to achieve over a periode of three years. The Alchemy shop doesn’t have much of a reputation, mostly because of the strange way Astrid handled things, and it’s up to Rorona to do something about that too. The game revolves around crafting and turn based fights, so a kind of Crafting RPG. In some ways this game has elements of a visual novel, as the story is very important to the game. The background is presented in 2D, but when there are battles, or when conversations take place, the people that you see are in 3D. The anime style visuals are beautiful, especially in the shop, so detailed that it’s a pity that you can’t really interact with what’s in the background. For instance, a chest of drawers just seems to be put in the scene begging to be opened! The dungeon and the town backgrounds are good but nothing special, making the characters that the story revolves around all the more special to look at.

Zettel, ice bomb, spring cup, pollish, homononculusThe tutorial is good, the library to find background info is firmly in place, and I can tell you I needed that. The crafting is fun to do, but you have to factor in the magical power needed to make something, the quality of the raw material you are using, the traits that the materials bring to the item you are making. And the deadlines you have for getting things done as the time that will literally fly forward when you are crafting. So, add time management to the crafting and fighting! This is a game that isn’t just your average RPG where you can battle for experience and then have the game progress more or less automatically. In a way it feels like the fighting is secondary: though fun to do, I have yet to meet an enemy that really give my team trouble. But deciding who you want to take in your party, equipping the best weapons and armor is fun to do. Particularly because you have to craft them all. Exploration is good, with a steady flow of new areas that are unlocked along the way. The choices you make in your interaction with people around you will affect the storyline and the ending of the game, so I guess if you want to experience them all, you would have to play the game more than once.

Can you tell the game has me exited? If you like games like Rune Factory and you own a Vita or Playstation, I’d definitely recommend this game! And if you don’t own a Vita, there is hope still: a Chibi-fied version on the game will be released for the 3DS. Release in the West is still unsure though. The RPG, a chibi-fied version of the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita original, offers a revamped battle system, new costumes, and other new elements. It’s due out in Japan on March 26.
Atelier Rorona, 3DS, Chibi version, crafting

14 comments

  1. I’ve been wanting to try these Atelier games forever, and I’m elated that they are finally coming to the West on a portable system! If I didn’t already own a Vita, this trilogy alone would definitely be an incentive to buy one… My only (small) regret is that they didn’t get a physical release in Europe and can only be purchased through the Playstation Store. Still, they are at the top of my current gaming wishlist! 😀

    1. Same here.
      The Atelier games look interesting, I have to try them at some point.
      I also prefer physical releases over digital only, but you can’t help it.
      Not even Sony themselves are releasing retail versions anymore for certain titles.

      1. No, they aren’t. It even seems to me that Sony has more download onky games then Nintendo has! A pity because the expensive micro SD storage is a factor too to take into account.

    2. Well, normally I’m all for downloading games, but the limited and very expensive micro SD’s cards for the Vita make it no fun to download the games. But I guess I will have to if I want to play more games!

  2. I totally agree with you regarding the SD cards’ price and rarity! It didn’t bother me until now because I only bought physical copies of Vita games, but as more digital-only titles are coming to the system, I’m starting to grow annoyed at this design choice… Now I understand fully why so many people complained about the high price of the SD cards when the Vita was launched! 😀

  3. I love the Atelier series. The recent entries are more newbie friendly as they are less strict when it comes to time management. I normally pick up the console versions, although I hear that the Vita ports come with extras.

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