By David Fernandes / March 18th, 2015
The areas you enter outside of the city themselves got an upgrade, though some still suffer from being very dense or filled with invisible walls. The designs are more notable with a few more things to do like fishing and digging, making for a more fun adventure. With the new and improved 3D rotatable camera for most locations, you’re able to get a better sense of your surroundings, so no pesky enemies can sneak up on you. As you go about your business outside of the city, the regions will sometimes alter a bit with positive or negative effects, such as spawning more ore deposits or fewer enemies, materials to gather or items available at specific shops. The combat system was, once again, changed around while still carrying over some mechanics from past games. For instance, assisting is still in, but with more added purpose.
That being the new Burst and Break mechanics which add a new level of nuance to an already great system. Every attack adds to the Burst Gauge which, when filled up, activates a Burst, letting characters dish out a lot more damage — especially with successful Chain Counts. If each of the three characters in the rear line has their assist gauges full while in a Burst, you can also use up all three to attack in one go. By doing so, you achieve a devastating Variable Strike. Not only that, but, depending on how much you have the Burst Gauge over 100%, you can use one or more Field Bursts to acquire additional effects depending on the character(s).
Breaks, which are indicated by a star on enemy portraits on the right hand side of the screen, fill up with every attack on an enemy, making it a good idea to focus on one enemy at a time. While in this state, enemies may lose a turn, or the next attack they suffer may be a critical hit. As such, timing is a key factor since attacking, while damaging, knocks them out of Break. Your characters aren’t immune to this, either, and can suffer the same consequence, so strategy is still prevalent, even if character positioning has been removed. However, because time management is gone, the game itself can be quite easy and may not offer as much of a challenge since you have an infinite amount of time to prepare for any boss. Though, while there are multiple difficulty options, I really wished Gust had done a better job of compensating for this giant change.
The localization of Escha & Logy, while serviceable, felt less than adequate. It wasn’t enough to ruin my time with it, but it was still very noticeable. This time around, Actill and Koei Tecmo seem to have learned from that experience and, thus, improved. There were fewer typos, very little text overflow and only a few minor objectives being mistranslated. Unfortunately, like an act of nature, we can’t seem to have even one Atelier game without a major bug or glitch. Shallie has one in the form of the game freezing when attempting to use the new Growth System; which normally allows you to put points in various stats and improve or alter skills. It is still very possible to complete the game without this mechanic, even offering an easy mode which can make later bosses a cake walk. But being locked out of a game mechanic is still a problem that shouldn’t be ignored. Gust does seem to have noticed the problem and will fix it via patch.
Ayesha laid a nice foundation, and, while Eshca & Logy skittered around with continuing that plot, it at least did a good job in world building. That’s not to say that Shallie didn’t provide any semblance of continuation, and, as disappointing as it was in resolving some carryover character arcs, or even some of the new character arcs, there were some answers, even if they were a bit unsatisfying in delivery. However, it would be disappointing for such a lucrative overarching plot to end here with so many unresolved character arcs still being left in the air and still no answer on how to deal with Dusk and the inevitable, eventual triumph over it.
Atelier Shallie was an enjoyable experience, albeit feeling a bit shallow in the story department. Those issues, however, are subjective and much of them center around my tastes. While I loved the new additional cast in Escha & Logy, not everyone did, and that’s fine. It reminds me of a beach episode; neither too important nor adding much to the narrative, but still good fun with all the nuance Gust provided in the battle system and alchemy. It took me 30 hours to beat the story once, and I put another 30 or so hours to do most of other content. I still haven’t completed my first go around, so there’s plenty to do. While I probably won’t revisit this game as much as its predecessors, I can still recommend it to fans of the franchise and newcomers for those who still found the more lenient time management system in Escha & Logy intimidating.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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