Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland User Review
The story is simple. You are Rorona, you're an apprentice to an Alchemy Master who is somewhat unreliable and has her own agenda. Your workshop is threatened with closure and you have three years to prove your worth, or be closed. There will be 4 Assignments from the King each year, and you must be sufficiently successful to keep the workshop alive.
Arland is the town you are based in there are many areas outside the town to visit in search of ingredients for your alchemy recipes.
Aside from the main quests - your Assignments - there are numerous other smaller jobs that you can undertake. These assignments and jobs take the form of creating various items using alchemy. You'll need ingredients and so you must venture from the town. You'll face monsters so you need to defend yourself, and you can take up to two friends along for the ride to help out.
The game is presented using 3D models instead of the 'traditional' sprites on a hand drawn background. It looks good, and consistently maintains the look of an anime TV show. At first you feel that it looks sparse, but as you play you realize that the clean look is there as a product of looking like an anime show.
Combat against the monsters is a simple turn based system. You can attack, defend, use a skill or escape. Rorona can also use items during combat, which comes in hand for healing or throwing a bomb at an enemy. When you venture from the town, you are going to collect items for your synthesis and carry up to 60 items in your basket. You can tell the quality of an item when you pick it up, so you can carefully sort the best from the worst and keep the best.
The synthesis system is simple as well, just choose the recipe and the ingredients and off you go. Of course the quality of the ingredients plus any special properties or attributes they have influence the result of the synthesis. Keep that in mind because you can synthesize metal and cloth to make armor and weapons with. You can create some very powerful items that enhance your character greatly.
The game itself is very bright. The background music switches with each location and is generally upbeat and appropriate. The voices are nice, the dialogue is played out with anime stills and a dialog panel like you may have seen in numerous other Atlus games.
OK, while you're doing the assignments, and being graded, you are also completing the various jobs for your friends and the townsfolk. Each one completed increases your friendship rating with your friend, or your trust rating with the townfolk. Be careful to keep everyone happy. You get money (cole) for each completed job, and this can be used to buy additional ingredients, pay for equipment, or more importantly buy new recipes.
This game is deceptively simple. You think it can't possibly be difficult, it's just so easy...oops, missed that job. Oh No the assignment is due and I haven't done enough items! Assignments and jobs have deadlines that compete, ingredients are required, particular quality levels, some things take a long time to synthesize, there are so many variables within all of this, that you are soon running around like a loon to keep up. That is perhaps how this game hooks you.
This game has nothing in store for anyone expecting some racy anime girls are in for a disappointment. Rorona is a sweet, young and pretty girl doing her best to grow into her role as an alchemy master. That kind of sums up the game in a way. Rorona is an engaging and sometimes funny character, she and her friends are there to decorate the core mechanic of the game, the synthesis system and turn based combat.
I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "Oh Highlander, how can you be hooked on this game, it's all girly and cute, and sounds incredibly simple. It's not a hardcore game at all, is it?" Oh, but my friends, that's where you're wrong, it's a hardcore JRPG players game. Players that like to exploit the synthesis system to the max will spend hours perfecting combinations and recipes, and of course completists will want everything and to play every ending. This game is perfect for that. It's not so taxing that you don't want to bother with the synthesis, and it's fun to play while you plot your next creation. In the end though I can't quite put my finger on why, but you come back to it time and again.
Anyway, good, bad and ugly.
Good - turn based, synthesis, cute characters, good voice, 3D not sprites.
Bad - simplistic graphics, which although anime style, do appear at first to be very sparse. Not enough depth to the characters and sorry for me, and the combat is just too simple.
Ugly - Meredith. All other characters are either handsome or cute/pretty.
If you like this genre of game, then this is a buy. If you like JRPGs and are not sure of the synthesis thing, then you might rent before buying. If you like neither JRPGs or games which heavily feature item synthesis, you are probably not going to be won over by Rorona's sweet voice and smile. which is a pity, sometimes it's nice to play a gentle game that doesn't swear at you and doesn't splash blood, and just let's you use your mind to beat the system. Atelier Rorona - Alchemist of Arland is that kind of game. I'm scoring according to it's genre.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.