Atelier Ryza 3 Preview – A Thigh-Full of an Adventure

Every alchemist from the Atelier series has impacted anyone who plays. Fans will have their favorite, but none made quite the impact that Reisalin Stout has. Ryza and her dangerously tight shorts have brought this series to a new generation of gamers, who seem not to get enough of her. So much so that she has now received her own trilogy, a first in the series, not counting Atelier Iris, a trilogy that didn’t focus on a single heroine. With the release of Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, fans will get to spend more time with Ryza as she sets out on her last adventure.

It’s bittersweet, but I believe the developers understand that fans share a lot of memories with Ryza and friends. This is made clear after playing the opening hours of the adventure, we get to go on a nostalgic trip across Kurken Island and Ryza’s first Atelier, which doubled as her secret hideout. It’s definitely emotional as we see flashbacks from when the characters were younger, and they reflect on how much they have changed.

This also creates a base for how much they’ve matured. The playful banter still exists, but their confidence, especially that of Taos, is visible in everything they do. Ryza is busy taking on Alchemistic duties around town and taking on big jobs without hesitation, but this does create a “hit the ground running” sort of narrative. Although there is an option to catch everyone up to speed, this entry requires you to have played the first two titles to understand how far the cast has come.

Unlike Ryza 2, which can generally be played as a newcomer, given that it takes place in a new setting with a much larger cast, Ryza 3 begins without hesitation. Ryza is working with Bos and Tao, but having insight into these characters and how their relationship has grown is essential to find your bearings. Additionally, this feels like a way for the developers to say goodbye as much as its a send-off for the player, as the opening missions focus on memories before getting into the issue at hand.

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The cast is ready to set out on their last adventure after mysterious islands pop up around the island. Their sudden appearance is unknown, but the team jumps at the chance to take on the challenge. Over the past four years, Gust has improved their animation and environmental design. Characters look fantastic with an anime-like quality to them during cutscenes. If this is what we can expect from the team in the future, we’re in for some great titles. It retains a playful color scheme showing Ryza as a bright and bubbly adventurer running straight into gloomy forests and caves.

One thing I didn’t like about this new design is the blur effect that’s applied to the background. While it does make Ryza stand out, I’d rather see everything in front of me. I went through the settings and couldn’t turn it off, but it randomly flipped on and off during a cutscene, so I’m sure it’s possible. Further, even though it adds a movie-like effect, it makes it difficult to see materials in front of you. Points of interest are now highlighted with a marker above the item, and tools can be switched on the fly while moving around to never break up the gameplay, which was a great touch.

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One thing of note is just how fast Ryza is on the field. Everything is streamlined in this release to keep you moving forward, even when the battle transitions occur, without removing you from the field. This is also found in the map design, where everything is connected, providing a sense of freedom that the series has never had before.

Fast travel options are present from the game’s opening, but an intrusive and large yellow tower marks them. The map design is kind of confusing as every area can be seen as locked around the map, but I would have preferred to discover these areas on my own. The mini-map is also confusing, with a simple colored put to point you in the direction to go.

However, given that there are branching paths that twist and turn, it’s almost impossible to know if you’re going the right when traveling into new territory. So I wouldn’t have minded a highlighted trail on the mini-map to keep me on track rather than end up at a dead-end after I thought I was going the right way.

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Regarding actual gameplay, Atelier Ryza 3 has so much going for it. The synthesis system is the perfect evolution of the previous Ryza titles, with a familiar layout but added customization and quality-of-life features. Items can be created using minimal materials, but players can now spend extra materials to craft the and unlock new elements of that item. Further, if you have the materials to create an item needed for a recipe, you’re allowed to create it within that recipe, so there’s no need to back out, make some Ingot, and then restart the weapon you were creating. It keeps the process moving, which adds a lot of potential to late-game synthesis, where the real fun starts.

The battle system has also been streamlined in a way that leans heavily on real-time action. Players encounter enemies in an area and must fight the entire group. AP raises and players can unleash a couple of attacks before comboing in some magical or physical abilities. Further, you can switch to another party member with the press of a button to keep control over the entire fight. Three party members can fight simultaneously with the members on the bench accessible through a switch action that chains together combos. Similar to the synthesis feature, the battle system will evolve as more party members join.

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Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is a significant release, given that it’s marked as Ryza’s last adventure. I’m eagerly pressing forward to uncover more about the mystery of the secret keys and the strange islands that have appeared. It’s tough saying goodbye to thighs…I mean Ryza, but I’m glad this release shows a proper evolution of the series and improvements to the overall presentation.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on March 24, 2023.

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.