By Steve Baltimore / May 20th, 2021
|Title||Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX|
|Developer||Koei Tecmo, Gust|
|Release Date||April 21st, 2021|
|Platform||PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch|
Koei Tecmo recently released the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack. This pack contains the updated versions of Atelier Sophie, Atelier Firis and Atelier Lydie & Suelle. Instead of reviewing this as one trilogy, I’ve decided to review each of these “DX” versions separately. It’s been a good while since I spent time with these titles, and I’m interested to see if the new content and features add a new coat of paint to this very engaging series. Let’s spend some time with an up and coming alchemist so we can see where this journey takes us.
Our story begins in a town called Kirchen Bell. Here a young alchemist named Sophie Neuenmuller runs a small shop on the outskirts of town. She wants to use alchemy to put smiles on people’s faces, just like her grandmother before her. One day she discovers a strange talking book. The book was actually a girl named Plachta. Her pages were now blank, since she had lost all of her memories. Sophie decides to set out on a grand quest to restore Plachta’s memories and improve her alchemy along the way. She will be joined on this quest by her two childhood friends, Oskar and Monika. The trio will discover a far grander adventure than they had ever imagined.
The story here is pretty straightforward, but the characters really keep things interesting. Each one has their own personality quirks that make them a lot of fun when they are on screen. Oskar is a crazy plant lover that can hear them speak. Monika is much more organized and driven than our slacker alchemist. She is always pushing Sophie to come to prayer and do her best everyday. When you meet the other party members such as Harol, Leon, Fritz, Julio and my personal favorite, Corneria, things really pick up and this wonderful cast comes together nicely.
Graphically, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX looks great. The Steam version I’m playing did have some graphical issues in the fields when it first launched, but the latest patch has resolved these issues. The character models look outstanding and the monster models are great as well. Each area has a unique look and feel with lots of graphical details to add atmosphere. The game can be run in any resolution up to 4K, and at a very smooth framerate.
The music in a Gust release is always a treat. I basically love every soundtrack they have ever produced and Atelier Sophie is no exception. From the amazing battle themes to the more heartfelt somber tracks, each one is amazing and really drives home the emotions from the story. Like other Atelier titles, there are several classic soundtracks included here as well, so you can customize the soundtrack any way you like. This is one of the last Atelier titles to feature English voice acting, but I feel like most people should play this one in Japanese for two reasons. The last game in this trilogy is where the English dubs stopped, and while most of the scenes are voiced in Japanese, only a selection of them are done in the English dub. I feel like the Japanese cast here does an amazing job bringing these characters to life, so in the end it’s all good.
Gameplay here is pretty standard for this franchise. You will take on quests from either your party members or NPCs in town, then go out into the world and find ingredients in order to fulfill them. This sounds very simple, but there is a lot of depth here. Thankfully, the time limits of some of the previous titles are gone. The player can work at their own pace, gather, or work on alchemy skills until they feel comfortable moving the story forward. There are only a couple of events you can miss in the entire game and only one ending.
With the basic game flow out of the way, let’s talk about synthesis. This works a bit differently in every Atelier title, and Atelier Sophie is one of the more simple ones. The first thing you do is learn the recipe. You do this in a few different ways: some are just unlocked with story progression, you may have to make an item a certain trait for others, or sometimes just exploring a certain area will inspire Sophie. The in-game alchemy book will give you hints on how to unlock these, so you’re not just shooting in the dark. Once you begin, you will have to select the ingredients you wish to use. These, of course, have quality values and some traits you will need to keep in mind while selecting. Once you have selected your items, you will have to pick a cauldron to mix the ingredients together in. Each one will look like a grid with some different colored areas and bonus stars. The grid size and number of these stars will depend on the cauldron and how well you made it. Your ingredients will be shaped like Tetris blocks, and you will need to place them into the cauldron in a fashion that will grant you the most bonuses. As always, it takes some time to find the higher class items, but if you play your cards right you can make some amazing items that will get you through combat with ease. In some titles you make your own weapons and armor, but here the shopkeepers will do that for you. Just make sure the ingredients you take them are top-tier with lots of good effects.
The only real complaint I have is that it is a real pain to get some of the ingredients you need for the later recipes in the game. I know this can always be an issue in these games, but the way they set this up here is very tedious. There are a few things only special boss monsters will drop or that can only be harvested at certain locations. These will only appear when you buy a certain rumor in the café, and they come up at random. This means if you need something and that rumor is not up for purchase in the café, you will have wait until they switch over to whichever one you need. Some of these items can be exchanged for with vouchers there, but there are a few you end up playing the waiting game for.
Combat here is a turn-based affair with a few minor tweaks. You have your basic attack, skills and defend like any other RPG, but you can set each party member to a different type of assist. You can have some members help with attacking while others help with defense. Having a good balance will keep you alive much longer than going in full force. You can level up each character to a max of 20, then they will earn ability points to further their skills. Distributing these points properly and having good items will make your life a lot easier towards the end of this one. If the worst happened and the party is defeated, don’t worry, you will end up back at the Atelier. This will cost you about half of the items you have gathered, however.
I had a great time with Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX. I love the story, characters, and the alchemy was a lot of fun to play around with. The new quality of life additions such as new cauldrons, battle speed up and a dash button were very welcome additions. The fact that this release has a new outfit for Sophie, added photo mode, some new story bits, a great digital artbook and all the DLC from the previous release, is just icing on an already delicious cake. It took me right around 45 hours to finish the main story and the post-game. At the $39.99 price tag, if you have never jumped into the wonderful world of Atelier, now is a great time to do so. Folks that own the previous version, I would still say pick this up cause I feel like the upgrades are worth it, but maybe wait for a good bundle sale.
Game was provided by the publisher.
Atelier seriesAtelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious BookGustKoei TecmoReviewsSteam