By Steve Baltimore / July 18th, 2019
|Title||Atelier Lulua ~The Scion of Arland~|
|Release Date||May 20th, 2019|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, PC, Switch|
Coming off the slightly disappointing Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists ~Ateliers of the New World~, Koei Tecmo has released the next entry into the long running Atelier series, Atelier Lulua ~The Scion of Arland~. Being a huge fan of the Arland Trilogy, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. I’ve finally managed to complete the game, and it’s time once again for me to share my thoughts. Let’s see if this can make up for the misstep Nelke was.
The story begins in the familiar setting of Arland, in a town called Arklys. There is a young alchemist here named Lulua. She is the adopted daughter of the world famous alchemist Rorona Frixell. Lulua is a very kind girl, even if she is a bit impulsive. She is working her hardest to become an alchemist on par with her mother. She is being mentored by Piana, who is now fully grown and trained as an alchemist by Totori. One day Lulua comes across a strange book called the Alchemyriddle. She feels strongly that deciphering this will make her the greatest alchemist the world has known. Little does she know, this book will set her on an adventure that could shake the very foundations of Arland itself!
I have to say I really enjoyed the story overall. Watching Lulua grow and mature over the course of the game was a real treat. Lulua may be one of my favorite alchemists of all time with her never give up attitude and the sheer amount of positive energy her character gives off. We could all use a lot of this in gaming and our lives in general. The supporting cast is wonderful as well. Her best friend Eva is the perfect sidekick for Lulua. You need to watch her however, she may appear all cute and friendly, but she can go full yandere with the right triggers. Aurel is another great addition to the cast. A true badass with a sword, he is training to surpass Sterk and become the greatest knight in the land. He has some great interactions with Lulua and the rest of the crew. This mix of new characters and returning favorites worked on every level and I hope GUST does more of this going forward.
The audio in here is outstanding. The GUST team always puts out an amazing OST for every title they work on. There are plenty of the light hearted tracks the series is known for. The great battle themes are here as well, and there are some more somber tunes for the game’s more serious moments. You can even download two classic track packs off PSN and customize the soundtrack anyway you wish. These packs have tunes from classic and modern titles in the Atelier series, and if you want to spring a few bucks, you can buy a third pack which has tracks from Blue Reflection. That game made me love dubstep and I didn’t think that was possible! The game has no English dub, but the Japanese cast does a wonderful job bringing these characters to life. Some may have issues with this, but I’ve always played these in Japanese, so the lack of dub doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
Graphically, Atelier Lulua is one of the best looking entries in the series. The character models are all nicely detailed, and some of the facial expressions the characters have really add to the scenes. There are a wide variety of environments from lush forests to underground caverns. Each one is well represented and the attention to the little details really make this shine. The monsters all look great. There’s not many you haven’t seen before, but that makes sense since the game is taking place in Arland. The weather effects are very nice as well and add to the game’s overall presentation.
Atelier Lulua ~The Scion of Arland~ plays a bit differently from some of the other games in the franchise. There is no time limit here at all. The gameplay here is focused on exploration and alchemy. In each chapter, the Alchemyriddle will give you hints towards the goals you need to clear to progress. Each time one of these requirements are met you will be greeted with a notification. Each chapter will start with a few main goals and some basic goals. When all the basic goals are met you will unlock the chapter’s advance goals, and completing all of these will give you a reward. Players will move onto the next chapter once all main goals are met but don’t worry, you can complete unfinished entries from previous chapters at anytime. You will want to complete as much of this as possible to unlock new gathering areas and recipes.
As with any game with the Atelier series, a good portion of the gameplay revolves around synthesis. The system here is similar to what was found in previous entries, but things have been improved as always. I won’t go into details here, but I will give a general overview of how it works. Once you have obtained a recipe for an item and have gathered the necessary materials you can synthesize it. Items you make will be different depending on the traits of the materials you used to make it. These materials will affect the quality of the item as well. There are some great tutorials in game that explain how this works, and honestly this is the one of the most straightforward and simple systems they have ever implemented. I usually struggle making high quality items with the bigger effects, but I had no problem doing that at all here.
Combat here is turn-based. The party will consist of three attackers and two supporters. Certain combinations of characters in the attacker role will trigger a primal art resulting in a nice buff for your party. The characters in support roles will have automatic actions that trigger when conditions are met. These can include magic attacks or they may do follow-up attacks when you use certain skills. Alchemists in your party can also equip an item to use an interrupt. What this means is when the gauge fills on that item, you can use it immediately. Using the interrupt with an attack item can get you some extra damage, while equipping healing items can really save your bacon in a pinch.
I have to say, Atelier Lulua ~The Scion of Arland~ is one of the best games in the series. The characters are wonderful, the story while not unique is still very interesting and the combat is a pure joy. I played this one for around 45 hours and could’ve easily gotten more finishing up quests, doing post-game stuff or trying for one of the other endings. If you’re a fan of series, the game is well worth the $59.99 price tag. If you haven’t picked one of these games up in a while, now is the perfect time to jump back into this great franchise.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
AtelierAtelier LuluaGustKoei Tecmo