The Atelier series has been around for a long time. It’s a series that I look to for its traditional JRPG elements and new ideas. Now, developer Gust seems to be taking the series to a new level of quality with Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout. After the first three hours of the game, we’d like to share some of our thoughts on the game’s new systems and characters.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout opens with the introduction of Reisalin Stout, known as Ryza, and her two friends Lent and Tao. The group can only be described as bored teenagers who just want to get out of their hometown and follow their dreams. Each of the characters has their own goal that happens to be along a similar path of the others so their friendship does work in this regard. The best part about the group so far is how absolutely nerdy they are. Their chemistry only improves after the opening scenes, but I’d like to see where it goes in the later hours of the game.
What’s good to mention is that the characters are also extremely complex. No one believes in Ryza for the most part and there are moments where she finds it tough to believe in herself. This a big difference from the over-optimism and support seen in the previous titles. Furthermore, characters like Lent have issues not shown in the main story such as with troubles at home and players will need to go out their way to speak with him to learn more.
Another important thing to note about Ryza is that she never wanted to be an Alchemist, but she discovers she has a knack for it. During an encounter, two traveling characters Empel and Lila save Ryza and only then does she discover the power of alchemy and make that her new dream. Empel and Lila are pretty strange and I don’t really trust them at this point, but they have been helpful to the group so far.
The battle system is active and players only really need to focus on using Ryza in fights. As the actions are displayed the game lets you know when Ryza can attack. While waiting, other party members and enemies can perform their attacks. Actions are tied to an AP gauge which raises when attacks are made. Skills consume AP, but the AP gauge can also be leveled up to allow characters to make multiple attacks on an enemy during each battle. It’s fast and interesting and something that I’d really like to explore more as the party grows. There’s also the option to use quick actions in battles that will push Ryza to the front of the line to use an item or skill.
The synthesis system has also be revamped in a unique way. Players are able to control crafting to a higher degree by choosing the ingredients they desire. This takes the quality of the item into account as players can use certain items to unlock new recipes, which is called morphing. Other item customizations include attaching items to cores unlock the full potential of an item. This synthesis system is much different than any of the previous iterations and has my full attention to figure out its ins and outs and craft some awesome items.
After the first three hours, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is turning out to be a grand adventure. There are many questions that I have as I get further into the game, but one thing is for sure, this is the most beautiful Atelier game of this generation and I can’t wait to see what it has in store.
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