Six years ago, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book was released as the beginning of a new trilogy in the Atelier series. The protagonist, Sophie, took players on a bright-eyed adventure as she and her friends uncovered the memories of a talking book named Plachta. In retrospect, the adventure was exceptionally slice-of-life, with the prospect of helping friends being the main draw. Now, Sophie is back for a new adventure, and in the opening moments of gameplay, I’m reminded of why these characters mean so much to me.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream opens with Sophie and Plachta investigating an area when they are transported to the land of dreams by a mysterious person. Sophie awakens without Plachta by her side and makes it her mission to find her lost friend.
This land of dreams has a few rules that I probably won’t get into, considering the scope of this preview. However, the entire world comprises people’s dreams, from the environments to the monsters. Further, the characters themselves have a dream-like quality that can transcend time, which is discovered when Sophie meets another character named Plachta, who looks nothing like her friend.
One of the endearing aspects of this game is the updated battle system. Gust has become experts at providing a smooth and fast battle experience all while using a turn-based battle system. When coming into contact with an enemy, the battle occurs right on the field. Players can view incoming enemy attacks to respond with either blocking or attacking, but they can also choose to help out a party member by blocking for them.
Further, skills enhance the battles as characters take advantage of enemy weaknesses. Party members can link together to execute dual skills as well for increased damage. The outcome is rather exciting as everything is just so seamless. Following the battle, Sophie is right back on the field and running to her next objective.
Material gathering is a significant feature in any Atelier series. This entry marks clearly where objective-based items are on the mini-map and monsters that need to be hunted. The organization of it all means you’re going to spend less time on the menu deciding where to go. In addition, I really enjoyed how user-friendly the entire UI is.
One thing of note is that while Atelier Sophie 2 isn’t the most graphically intensive JRPG around, the game still packs some beauty. Story scenes feature the characters in numerous animations, and environments are far more vast than any previous entry. Sophie also retains some of the coloring book-esque features from the original, which was definitely nice to see.
The one thing I miss is the English dub. I know many western players might have an opinion about this, but I enjoyed the English cast and would like to see Koei Tecmo bring this back. Further, I’m still learning more about these characters and the world. I’m not entirely sold on this new cast, and I find myself missing Oskar more and more each minute.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream features a significant amount of updates compared to the previous entries. However, it retains its turn-based systems for long-time fans to enjoy. The adventure is self-contained and offers a refresher on the first adventure, for those new fans that Ryza brought in. I’m curious to see how this adventure evolves and how the updated synthesis system takes form. In the early moments, none of that really matters, though, so my most significant focus is fighting monsters and exploring.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on February 25, 2022.
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