Gust’s Atelier franchise has had many games over the years, and the newest–Atelier Firis–is available now to play at Tokyo Game Show 2016.
The story of Firis’ game revolves around the titular character’s efforts to become a certified alchemist by passing an exam. There’s a catch though: As part of this exam, you have to collect three approval papers from established alchemists by completing the tasks they assign you–and you only have a year to do this. Firis has also promised her family in her hometown that she’ll come back if she fails to pass the exam, so there’s a lot at stake in terms of her future.
On a quest to become an alchemist, Firis doesn’t have much time to return to town and perform alchemy like her predecessors in such games as Atelier Iris, Mana Khemia, and Atelier Rorona. And it looks like that backpack she has while on the road isn’t for nothing. At any campfire site in the field, Firis can magically make a little house that she can go inside, drop off any ingredients and tools she’s collected, and even talk to her sister, Liane, who accompanies her on her journey.
Out in the field, Firis can meet NPCs who will talk to her and give her information about the area she is currently in. Firis is able to obtain ingredients for her alchemy by using bombs or her staff to destroy rocks or just by picking things up on the ground. As opposed to some past Atelier titles, the items do not have to be selected before obtained and are immediately added to your inventory. The camera that can be freely controlled on the field is also a welcome feature, as it makes it easier to access gathering spots.
In the past, there have been many methods of performing alchemy throughout the series, but a majority have been focused on item quality over method. In Firis, you must play a game slightly similar to Tetris to place the ingredients you have chosen onto an alchemy grid. Each ingredient takes up a different amount of space on the board, with different arrangements of the spaces for each. Although you can overlap ingredients with others, the ingredient overlapping will negate the effects of the one below it. Using this, you can alter the quality and effects of your final product.
Unfortunately, there are several problems with this installment’s demo–the one standing out the most being the demo’s frame rate. During my play of the demo, there was an obvious drop in smoothness of Firis’ animations when I was inside of her workshop. Combined with the extremely low ceiling and the bright orange color of her alchemy area, it became absolutely nauseating during my fairly short playtime. The graphics haven’t improved much from past titles as well, though this could be because of its cross-platform availability.
Also worryingly, the loading times when encountering enemies on the field in the demo range from one to five seconds. And these loads weren’t seamless–after touching an enemy, the screen turns black and displays a “loading” logo with an admittedly adorable Puni next to it. It’s not like the battles are that high-tech either–aside from the duo special attack feature that I don’t personally remember, nothing seems to be different from, say, Atelier Ayesha, or any other past Atelier titles. There are still support actions from party members to protect Firis, attacking, using alchemy in battle, etc.
The characters haven’t changed drastically either–it’s still cute girls going on a journey of alchemy. Just from what I saw from the demo, there doesn’t seem to be anything to shake the series up. Though, maybe people who like the cute girls doing alchemy thing will welcome this lack of change.
Firis no Atelier ~Fushigi na Tabi no Renkinjutsushi~ (Atelier Firis: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey) will be released in Japan on the Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on November 2, 2016.
The game will feature Escha and Logix, two characters who starred in Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, which inspired a television anime in 2014. Koei Tecmo Games released the game in North America and Europe, and Sentai Filmworks licensed and released the television anime on home video in North America. The anime is available to watch online with English subtitles on Hulu.
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September 20, 2016 03:00 AM