Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Preview
If there’s one series that has continually delivered the old-school goods for JRPG fanatics, it’s the Atelier series. It has maintained a turn-based combat mechanic throughout the years and has also provided players with an increasingly in-depth item creation system. Alchemy has always been a central focus of the franchise and those interested in experimenting and micromanagement usually get a lot of entertainment out of any given entry. Now, hot on the heels of Atelier Meruru comes Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, which features a new protagonist, new story and an updated battle system.
Known as Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Twilight Land in Japan, the game focuses on Ayesha Altugle, an alchemist who is very much a loner. She spends most of her time in her workshop, creating her special medicines and unfortunately, suffering from memory loss. However, when her sister, Nio, goes out to gather materials one day and never returns, Ayesha must act. She resolves to find and save her sister, who is oddly trapped in an unknown dimension. Hence, it’s a quest to retrieve both her lost sister and her lost memory so hopefully, the storyline will be worth experiencing.
Obviously, alchemy is a big part of that experience, too. It can be straightforward or highly complex, depending on how much effort and time you put into the discipline. You combine two to four ingredients of varying properties and voila, you obtain something entirely new. You can also enhance existing items, such as expanding the blast radius of a fire potion, and it’s always important to gather raw materials and recipes as you travel. You’ll also want to fiddle around and experiment on your own; you never know what you might stumble upon. Any new creation could prove highly beneficial on the field of battle, so don’t hesitate to try different combinations. Random discovery is half the fun!
And speaking of combat, the traditional turn-based system is back but this time around, there’s a new buddy mechanic. This actually bends the standard turn-based rules a little, as party members can leap to your defense and even execute counter attacks. It’s all based on your active command gauge; if it’s high enough, you might even finish an encounter without ever letting the enemy move. Also, the position of your party members is a concern as enemies will take more damage when being struck from behind (same goes for you, of course). So between the new buddy system and the strategic placement of your allies, the fighting will definitely be more dynamic than ever before.
Lastly, as per Ayesha’s memory, there will be memory points to accumulate that will help her unlock her hazy past. Certain actions will earn her memory points, and this can also lead to permanent upgrades and stat boosts as well. Other new additions include the fresh Diary System that lets you keep track of your activities – and is a great tool for people with memory issues – and character-unique skills and abilities. If you get hooked, you can look forward to future downloadable content that will offer new costumes, new characters, and even new areas to explore. Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk launches on March 5 exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
1/17/2013 Ben Dutka