By Steve Baltimore / April 14th, 2023
|Title||Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key|
|Developer||Koei Tecmo, Gust|
|Release Date||March 23rd, 2023|
|Platform||PC, Switch, PlayStation 4 | 5|
I have always been a huge fan of the Atelier franchise, and I was very excited when Koei Tecmo announced the final chapter in the Atelier Ryza series. This is the first time they have ever kept the same Alchemist as the protagonist throughout an entire series, and with the title Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key, I just knew this was going to be a great conclusion. I’ve spent over 70 hours with the game and I’m ready to share my thoughts. Was this the epic ending I was hoping for or did it fall flat? Let’s find out!
The story begins as Ryza and her friends set out to investigate a new set of islands that have appeared near their hometown. These islands are dubbed the Kark Isles, and not knowing if these islands were a threat or not, they set out to explore them. They soon discover ruins with a huge gate. Just as Ryza approaches the gate she hears a voice in her head say to reach the Code of the Universe, and a strange key appears in her hand. The group will now set out on a new summer adventure that will lead to the very roots of Alchemy.
Overall I loved the story here. I’ve gotten to know these characters over the course of the previous two titles and seeing more of them was pure joy. Stories leftover from previous titles were wrapped up along the course of this story, and the new characters were a lot of fun as well. Dion is the hot headed youth who just wants to prove himself to his village. Him and Lent have some parallels, so seeing the two of them interact together was a lot of fun. The hardworking Federica is from the crafting city of Sardonica. There she is the deputy union head of the craftsman union. There are two factions there, glasswork and Fairystones, that are at odds with each other. Federica is caught in the middle as deputy union head and is trying to get the two sides to compromise. She learns a lot about the world on her adventures with Ryza and the others. She has some really cute moments thrown in here as well. Lastly we have a new Oren party member, the adorable Kala. Don’t let her small stature fool you, she is a very old lady with vast power and knowledge. She seems to have knowledge of both the gate and the “Code of the Universe.”
Graphically, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key is a slight step up from the last game. The models look a bit cleaner, and the PC version has more options for texture filtering. There is an issue with Depth of Field being too strong, and they did address this issue with a patch. I don’t know why anyone would ever use that. You buy hardware so games look good running at decent framerates, not to have everything look like it has gasoline rubbed on it. Anyway, the new environments are richly detailed and really give you a great sense of depth for each area. The character models look outstanding with tons of little details you will notice if you look close. The enemy models look great as well, though I do feel like they could throw in a few new types to spice up the action next time around. They did, however, do a great job on the boss monster models. They are big and badass and will make you wonder if you are gonna come out on top the minute you see them.
The soundtrack here is what you would expect from Gust. Every song here is done with quality and you will likely want to listen to them over and over again. The new battle themes are light and fluffy like the others in the series, and the overworld themes really get you into the mood to explore this vast world. The ending theme, “Travelers,” gives this crew a fantastic send off and is one of my favorite themes in the franchise already. The voice actors you know and love are back to reprise their roles and they do an amazing job. The game is only voiced in Japanese with no English dub, but I think this series just works better this way.
The gameplay here has changed a little from the last time around, but most of the basic combat and synthesis features are still here. Combat is still real time with the great combo system from the last game. They have added some new tactical moves that can be done, such as performing more combos and the new Key system is a big addition. You can extract keys from the enemies in combat. Their health will have to be at a certain level, and the type of key will depend on the blank key you used. These keys can be used for a variety of things: open doors on the field, during synthesis for bonuses, at certain gathering points and in combat for various buffs. As you would figure, the more rare the key is you created, the better the effects will be. Using ones with great effects during a battle you are struggling with can really turn the tide. Synthesis works exactly like it did the last time around, but using the keys can boost your items in various ways. This makes it easier to create some truly powerful gear, accessories or consumables quickly.
This time around Gust has gone with an open world approach. You can basically explore each of the huge maps at will, barring making a few items here and there to progress. There are plenty of map markers on each map, so it’s not tedious to travel around using fast travel. These markers also help a lot in completing the various quests the game has to offer. There are a few different types of quests found in the game. Random quests pop up on the map all at once, and have you doing things like make X item or slay X group of enemies. You can totally ignore these if you wish, but they do offer some great rewards. Normal quests are exactly what you would expect and then there are the World Quests. These quests will offer a distinct story for each region and while the rewards are not as straightforward as the other quests, they do have a nice pay off.
At the end of the day, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key is everything I could’ve hoped for. It’s a fantastic end to this amazing series, the gameplay is fantastic and I love this cast almost as much as the Arland crew, which is quite a lot. I would love to see them revisit Ryza someday as she takes an apprentice just to see how things changed down the line. This game is worth every penny of the $59.99 price tag and I would highly suggest everyone check out all of Ryza’s titles. They are all amazing in their own ways, topped off by this truly amazing final chapter.
Game was provided by the publisher.
AtelierAtelier RyzaAtelier Ryza 3GustKoei TecmoRPG