Title: Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
The Atelier series is one that I hold close to my heart. Many years ago, it was the reason I wanted to get into writing about video games because I wanted more people to know about it. The series has evolved over the years, and the developer never seems to be satisfied with reusing systems outside of its core game mechanics. 2019’s Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout offered players some familiar systems but included a narrative that tied the entire adventure together.
Now, in a rare event, developer Gust has developed a direct follow up with the release of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. I was definitely hesitant about what this adventure offered. However, fans will be glad to know that this developer is still not allowing themselves to get too comfortable even with returning characters.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy begins three years after the first game’s events. Ryza is moping around Kurken, remember the good ol’ times, and practicing alchemy when she receives a letter from Tao to visit the capital and is brought a mysterious egg. With the urge for adventure, she sets off on her own to find it. The opening is significant because everyone has left the island except for Ryza. She attempts to manage adult life as much as possible, but it’s clear she dreams of adventure.
These themes of growing up but still holding nostalgic feelings for old times pop up throughout the main story. It’s not just Ryza who feels this way, but everyone has their own responsibilities that potentially hold them back from acting on their usual impulses. There are some relatable moments of dialogue here as we all wish to return to some of the adventures of our youth.
The adventure at hand is really unlike any Atelier game that has come before. Ryza and her crew find themselves investigating ruins around the capital that are somehow tied to a flying creature named Fi and the history of alchemy. Every mechanic is symbiotic here, as exploration, skills, alchemy, quests, and gathering materials are connected to progression. Like previous games, alchemy is a substantial part of the adventure. However, Ryza isn’t tied to an alchemy level as she creates items but is instead granted SP to gain new skills.
As you unlock skills, you can craft new items that enhance the gathering system with new tools to use in the field and become better versed in collecting items and increasing the quality of synthesis. Further, skills allow players to enhance items and unlock more crafting options, such as altering items using specific materials. The art of synthesis is streamlined for quests and an auto function that allows you to choose high or low quality to craft, perfect for completing quests.
However, unlocking skills is also tied to exploration in ruins. Ryza goes all out in this adventure with the ability to swing across gaps, swim, and climb around environments. Still, exploring ruins is enhanced with a system where you collect memories to piece them together within a compass. This is more of a puzzle as you match clues with images, but completing these will grant new skills and reward those who explore every inch of a ruin.
Ryza 2 rolls out characters rather slowly in this entry, and you’ll be making your way through the first few ruins with only a party of three. This is only a setback given that the battle system gets significantly better when a fourth support character is added to the mix, but let’s stick on characters for a bit.
The returning cast members are each given a sufficient amount of the spotlight to learn about what they’ve been up to in the past three years and how they’ve grown as people. On the other hand, the new characters fit in well with the group, and the story doesn’t ever really feel unbalanced in terms of which characters to spotlight more. As far as design goes, I’d say newcomer Serri steals the show in this entry with her rather revealing character design. However, the development team understood fans’ love for Ryza as many of her actions have the camera focusing on her more prominent assists.
Now battles in Atelier Ryza 2are notable, but they aren’t entirely user friendly. In the beginning, the battles are slowly paced and almost dull as you don’t really have the skills to execute any powerful attacks, and if you’re only using two party members, things just become stale quickly. However, once you add that third character and even more when you add a fourth supporting character, things get serious.
In battle, players can quickly switch between controlling one character. However, it’s possible to just focus on using Ryza. As the characters attack, AP is gained to used skills. These skills then generate CC, which allows party members to use items. Throughout the battle, teammates will request specific skills to be used and follow-up with their own skill, although this can change depending on the support character.
More AP is earned as the fight progresses, allowing you to chain together multiple skills and even switch to your supporting character and execute even more skills. The outcome is an action-heavy presentation that will make you question the turn-based nature of the game. However, timing does become an issue because the window for using a skill after an attack or chaining together an attack is small, resulting in a wasted turn.
Graphically, Atelier Ryza 2 shares many similarities with its predecessor. However, the size of the areas, including the royal capital, is significant. There always seem to be new areas to discover or a new character to talk to as the game really expands on the world. It’s nothing jaw-dropping, but if you take a second to look at the architecture and details put into the capital, then I’m sure you can appreciate the work that went into making this adventure feel grander.
Accessibility options have been added that allow players to change the game’s difficulty and provide an auto-play option. Other systems include expanding your Atelier with items and feeding a pet Puni for materials, but you aren’t really required to do this. There’s also a mission board with timed quests to complete for townspeople, which will increase your presence in the capital and unlock additional features that you may even ignore until later in the game.
As with any Atelier entry, the soundtrack is outstanding. I became really attached to the battle theme and some of the dungeon tracks that enhance the adventure’s overall atmosphere. None of the tracks are overly silly or out of place and only complement the scenes overall from my experience.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy takes everything good about the first entry and expands on it tenfold. There’s a significant focus on exploration in this entry that makes it feel like a real adventure with limited backtracking and more emphasis and discovery. The battle system is amazing and fluid, if only lacking inaccessibility for its more nuanced systems, and the narrative features relatable moments of reuniting with friends for one more adventure.
If you enjoyed the first entry, Atelier Ryza 2 does all of that and more, which is all I could have asked for in a sequel.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.