Something happened when Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout was released. I’m not sure if it had to do with timing or something else, but there was a significant increase in interest for the series following the launch. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I know it was just Ryza who brought in a new generation of fans. Still, those who played through the adventure found that some significant changes were added to make it one of the best entries in the series to date.
To capitalize on this success, Gust is releasing Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, a sequel that takes place three years after the events of the first entry. After playing for more than a few hours, I’m glad to see that the developer didn’t just get comfortable delivering the same game as before.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy opens with Ryza finding herself on a new adventure after Tao sends her a letter to visit the capital. So, she’s off, and the quest has her moving to the capital to investigate ruins and practice her alchemy.
At face value, the premise is a bit weak, but I feel like the narrative of Atelier titles get grander the more you play. Sooner or later, all the pieces will connect, and the once carefree group of adventures will get serious as they take on a powerful foe. However, Atelier Ryza 2 has some unique features that had me caring less about the story and more about where the adventure will take me.
One of the most significant updates to the gameplay is the exploration itself. Players will find Ryza can climb walls, swim, and swing short distances. Surprisingly, this opens the door to more creative ways of collecting materials, which has always been one of the key components of any Atelier adventure. However, it feels different here somehow. I look at the environment, and instead of only seeing straight lines to small contained areas, we get vertical landscapes full of materials and ways to make your way around.
The materials themselves require you to interact with them, but the developers have played around with Ryza’s new abilities to give her access to additional materials for synthesis. It works well and makes returning to areas a bit more interesting as the fields appear to have various materials available instead of a shortlist. Monsters also roam the lands and provide materials when defeated. There’s a chance to reason rare items after a fight, which only adds to the growing materials list.
Synthesis in Atelier Ryza 2 has been streamlined to allow players to simply choose the quality, which speeds up some of the fetch quests instead of spending time making items over and over again. On the plus side, Ryza brings her alchemy skills to this entry, so we can mostly focus on Traits and Quality instead of reaching a certain level to create items. It’s around hour 12 that I typically begin to try and create decent items, so I’ll hold my judgments until then.
I need to quickly mention that the battle system shapes up to be one of the best in the series. Its focus on turn-based action flows nicely as the active battles are streamlined to allow players to focus on using one character of four during the entire battle. It’s possible to set the other characters’ commands, but I found that controlling Ryza only worked great and opened the door to some unique attacks and joint special attacks for more serious damage.
As I make my way further into Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, I’m going to pay attention to how the battle system evolves with the growing cast of playable characters throughout the game. There’s also a layer of customization and a few key elements of the adventure that I’m eager to learn more about, including the new character Fi, who also acts as a traversal form. Although Ryza’s clothes appear wet when it’s raining, that might be enough for her fans to pick up the game.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC-via Steam on January 26, 2021.
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