Title: Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg
Release Date: July 13, 2023
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Genre: Sim Management
Ten years ago, I dived face-first into the Atelier series. Over the years, I would go on to play new and old entries in the series, which make up some of my favorite JRPG memories. However, I quickly discovered that we didn’t have all of the Atelier titles officially available. One of which was the first adventure, Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg. Well, Koei Tecmo is changing that with the release of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, and while I wouldn’t say it moves the series in any particular way, I am glad that I had the chance to experience a modernized approach to the series’ roots.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg opens with a brief explanation of the world before focusing on the worst student at the Royal Academy of Magic, Marie. In order to graduate, she’s been given her own Atelier, where she has 5 years to create a high-ranking item. While there are a few different endings to the game, it’s also possible to simply run out of time, to which you’d need to start over and try again. I would say the game gets exceptionally easier upon replays, given that you begin with a better understanding of beginner traps and item synthesis.
Anyway, Marie, as a character, is hardly given room to really express her personality. She’s clumsy and energetic, but the narrative doesn’t really expand on her too much. I wouldn’t have minded if some liberties were taken to add some additional story scenarios that expanded on her character a bit more. Her only course of growth is to be a better alchemist, and…oh jeez, I just realized that’s pretty much the premise of most of the Atelier games. Regardless, she deserved more interactions to really understand her.
Unlike modern Atelier releases, Atelier Marie is incredibly short. Depending on how you spend your time, you can get through the campaign in 6 – 10 hours. However, within that time, there are several systems you’ll have to manage to access one of the better endings. For starters, ingredients are learned from books found at the academy, and at this same store, you’ll gain access to synthesis tools needed to make some items or even hold more items out in the field.
I’ll say none of this is very easy to grasp during your first playthrough, and while the tutorial does a decent job of showing the game flow, it doesn’t go into too much detail about the nuances of time management or what to do to unlock new ingredients. There are also people around town you can hire to be in your party. However, these characters need to be paid, and every time you leave, you’ll need to pay them. This ends up being a little annoying, especially if you just wanted to go to the Fairy Forest to hire a different Fairy that collects items for you.
You see, days pass on your journey, but you can only go to one place every time you adventure. This means you need to choose which areas you explore wisely, or you’ll be wasting precious time and still have to pay your party members. New areas are discovered over time by paying for rumors or talking to people. The game world isn’t too big, and areas often offer seasonal materials, which means you’ll need to revisit places.
The gameloop can get rather repetitive, especially there aren’t any significant events happening, and you’re stuck trying to earn money doing side quests. However, some of these quests require you to know where the item is, and there’s a deadline, so you may fail them at the cost of reputation. Still, there are some events that you can participate in that are only accessible during specific dates. These are missable, so paying attention to what’s coming up is important if you want to see everything.
The synthesis system is pretty straightforward. The items show the materials needed to create them, along with a short description. It’s possible to fail during synthesis, but there are ways to limit this from happening, such as having the correct tool or resting. Further, campaign missions are given to Marie by the Academy, but these are often pretty easy and will happen naturally over the course of gameplay.
Exploration is pretty hands-off in this release to the point where you can make it completely automated. Using the Simple Gather option, Marie will gather at various points around the environement automatically at the cost of a lower quantity. Further, the battles can be played on Auto with sped-up time, so you don’t really need to put too much effort into exploring. I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing, but the battle system is so overly simple that the auto option plays the same way I was.
Graphically, I liked the chibi character designs, explorable areas, and illustrations. I think it matched the game’s size, given that it is a rather relaxing Atelier experience. It’s interesting to see how far this series has evolved in terms of character growth and in-game systems. There’s also an unlimited mode with this release that allows you to play past the 5-year deadline, with the option to end the game whenever you want after the date.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg offers players a chance to discover the roots of this beloved series. The updated menus and graphics give this adventure a chance to be enjoyed by new and returning players, but the simplicity of it all might limit any genuine player investment. It’s a bite-sized Atelier experience that provides moments of charm alongside some frustratingly simple gameplay mechanics.
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