GUST Studios is back with their latest installment in the Atelier series with Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey launched on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC March 7th. Doing what GUST does best, adorable girls and crafting items through alchemy is the main focus of the game. Although the Atelier series is a large one, I’ve never played a single entry in the franchise and am excited to finally get to experience the magical RPG for myself with the 18th title.
Meet Firis Mistlud, a young girl stuck in a small isolated mining town called Ertona with big dreams of exploring the world beyond. She has the useful ability of being able to sense and harvest ore without the use of tools. With the help of a cute pair of strangers that show up in her town, she widens her skills to include alchemy too. Set in the same world as Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, returning characters Sophie and Plachta make appearances to get you started in Mysterious Journey.
A long tutorial/prologue does a good job of explaining the basics of Atelier gameplay and establishing the simple plot; Firis wants to be free to explore the outside world and seeks to do that by becoming a licensed alchemist. Simple tutorials can be selected when you first encounter a mechanic in the game but more in-depth explanations can be found in the tutorial. This system of introducing concepts to players prevents things from getting overwhelming and overly complicated, making it rather friendly for newcomers to the series.
Gameplay revolves primarily around alchemy, although turn-based combat is present in the game as well and may play a larger role the further you progress. Collecting items from around the environment and completing menial quests is how you’ll spend much of your time, a casual and relaxing sort of gameplay which will determine whether you’ll like this sort of game or not. The alchemy system itself is simple to use-arranging items in a Tetris-esque grid, and there are actually a lot of complexities to master within it.
Time limited events are also a key component to Altelier Firis’ gameplay. The pressure of a deadline is what keeps the game from being a complete walk in the park. Time passes from day to afternoon to night and the days fly by making it a necessity to manage your time wisely and finish your quests on time.
Making its debut in the series is the “Atelier Tent” a spot to save, rest and craft that can be placed near any campfire. The tent allows players a bit more freedom to explore the world within the many time constraints they’ll face. Another way Firis has more freedom to wander the vast environments before her are “Mass Synthesis” which enables players to create large items such as bridges and boats to traverse more difficult terrain. Deciding what to craft and where will change the environment, make new areas accessible and possibly even change the story lending more weight to each decision and giving players a sense of agency.
The well executed voice acting is provided in English with subtitles to read along with. Not all scenes are voice acted but a surprising amount are. The character design for Firis and her comrades is great and the environments are lovely as well. The music so far has also been pleasant, blending folksy rhythms with notes of whimsical fantasy like tinkling bells.
Judging by the length of the game’s prologue it’s likely that Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey will be a slow-paced experience. Gameplay may not be exciting but it is enjoyable. The music and art are a delight so far. Atelier Firis has been slow going, but it's also a relaxing yet rewarding sort of fun that I look forward to playing more of.
Altelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey was previewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the publisher.