By Steve Baltimore / January 26th, 2021
|Title||Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy|
|Developer||Koei Tecmo, Gust Co. Ltd.|
|Release Date||January 26th, 2021|
|Platform||PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4|
A while back, I took an early look at Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, and I was really impressed with what I played of it. I’ve finished the game now and it’s time to give my final thoughts. Let’s see if this turned out to be the amazing sequel I thought it would be.
The story takes place three years after Ryza and her friends completed their grand adventure. They have all went their separate ways, but she remains on Kurken Island. She is living a peaceful life on the island, but is yearning to learn more about Alchemy. She decides to take Tao up on his invitation to come to the royal capital. He wants her to help him explore some ancient ruins in the area, but before she leaves, Moritz Brunnen, Bos’ father, gives her a very mysterious stone. During their first expedition, Ryza discovers the stone has some connection to these ruins. The duo also find an ancient compass that is key to unlocking the history of these ruins. This sets events in motion that will lead Ryza and her friends on yet another amazing adventure.
The story here does everything a good follow-up title should do. It jumps right into the action and the returning characters show a great amount of growth throughout the story, while the new characters add a great new dynamic to the mix. Patricia Abelheim, a.k.a. Patty, is by far my favorite of the new characters. She is as cute as she is badass, and her interactions with both Tao and Ryza are pure gold. I really loved Serri as well. She is of the Oren race, just like Lila. A very soft spoken girl that doesn’t show much excitement about anything. She joins Ryza to explore the ruins, looking for a flower that can rid her land of the poison that infects it. She is much more distant to Ryza than her other companions. Likely because she cannot forget what the alchemists of old have done to her lands, so her trust for them is lacking to say the least.
While I could continue to talk about how much I love all the characters in this world, the overall story deserves to be recognized as well. This is one of the better, and more heartfelt stories in the Atelier franchise. If you weren’t taken in by Ryza’s amazing personality and sheer will in the first title, you certainly will be by the end of this one. I felt very satisfied when the ending credits rolled on this one, and even though I was very skeptical about keeping the same heroine for a sequel, I really think we need one more adventure with this crew. May as well have the Ryza Trilogy to go along with the many other trilogies in the Atelier series.
Graphically, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy looks amazing. I played through the PC version at 1440p, with all graphic options set to high, and everything ran smooth as silk. I did turn off the Depth of Field setting, since I feel the same about it as I do Motion Blur, I don’t like it. I played the Nintendo Switch version next, and though you can see some sacrifices were made to get it running smoothly on the console, I feel like they fit the game’s graphical style very well. I was actually really impressed with how well it looked and ran on the Switch, both handheld and docked.
As always, the Gust Sound Team, did an amazing job with the soundtrack of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. The soundtrack fits the emotional tone of this game to a tee. The battle themes are all high energy and will be stuck in your head for hours after you’re done playing. The ending theme, “Hands,” is something I will not be forgetting anytime soon, and is now my favorite vocal track of the series. The Japanese voice cast reprise their roles from the first game, and do an amazing job once again. The new characters’ voice actors are quality as well, and really give them a lot of life.
The real-time combat system from Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is back, and has seen some improvements. Just like last time, characters will attack automatically, and you will gain access to more powerful attacks as your tactics level increases. This time around, you can manually block attacks with the party member you are controlling. This will not only reduce damage, but also help gain AP faster for special attacks. Speaking of special attacks, those can now be chained together in combos. You can do as many attacks as your accumulated AP will allow. The Core Crystal item system is back as well, but it has seen a few changes. Items in combat will still consume CC instead of being depleted, but the CC is earned by performing attacks during battle. This is a bit different than the set amount you had in the previous game. Each character will have a maximum amount of CC they can stock during battle, and this can be upgraded later in the game. I felt this was a good change, since they added a quick item command for 10 AP to get you out of a jam, and the new item rush. This will let you spend all of your CC at once to use as many items as you want. Need healing and want to slam the enemy with a bomb at the same time? No problem, so long as you have the CC to do so.
Overall, alchemy hasn’t seen a big number of changes beyond some quality of life improvements, and a new strengthening system. The one big change is the Alchemy Skill Tree. Ryza will still earn points for everything you cook up, but instead of gaining levels to increase her skills, you can pick and choose which ones you wish to upgrade on the skill tree. Some skills will be locked until you explore certain ruins, but this gives you a lot of flexibility when upgrading. Want to gather better quality ingredients or do you want more quantity first? Take the tree any way you wish, to gain access to what you think will help you the most at the time. You can get to what you want pretty quickly since you earn a good amount of points per item you make, and taking quests in the café will earn you some extra points to spend as well.
Exploration in Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy has seen big changes. The first thing I want to mention may seem like a small detail, but it’s a huge one in this man’s humble opinion. You can now see what type of ingredient you’re going to gather before you pick it up. This saves you a ton of time if you don’t remember which tool harvests what ingredient for point X. I wouldn’t say the areas are bigger than last time, but the maps are certainly more dynamic. The ability to climb, swim and crawl to reach areas gives each field a great sense of depth. Later in the game you will have access to an ancient beast as a mount for Ryza. Not only does it move around the map quickly and is very cute, it can dig at certain spots to find ingredients you may not be able to get in that area with other methods.
While the field exploration is fantastic, when you start exploring the ruins is where the real fun begins. At the start of each one, you will be given a list of research tasks. These have been pretty simple so far, defeat X enemy or find X location. Once those are complete, your compass will begin to work and lead you to all of the memory fragments and vestiges. You will have to explore to find these, and once you get close enough you will get a ping at the top of the screen showing the direction they are in. As you collect these, you can fill out the Exploration Diary. Each entry will give you clues to which memory fragment or vestige will fill in the blanks. When each section is completed, Ryza will be rewarded with special recipes and skill points. This will also unlock a new area of the Alchemy Skill Tree.
All in all, I really love the changes to exploration in Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. The bits of lore you obtain from the memory fragments and vestiges really got me invested in this world and the characters. I never really felt the need to explore an area fully in most of the previous titles in the series. I really hope Gust sticks with this formula going forward. It really fleshes out the world and story bits, which players may miss otherwise, in a fun way.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is just a great game from start to finish. The characters are amazing, the world is very intriguing, and gameplay is just fantastic. I’ve played a lot of games in this series over the years, and this one is certainly one of my favorites. Gust has done something a lot of folks fail at. They took a very well-received title and made a sequel that is even better. It will take you right round 35 to 40 hours to complete the story here, and it’s worth every penny of the $59.99 retail price. I can’t wait to see where Ryza and her crew go from here!
Game provided by the publisher for review.
Atelier RyzaAtelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret FairyGustKoei TecmoPCReviewsRPGSteamSwitch