By Steve Baltimore / March 4th, 2022
|Title||Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream|
|Developer||GUST, Koei Tecmo|
|Release Date||February 25th, 2022|
|Platform||Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch|
It’s no secret I am a huge fan of the Atelier franchise, and anytime I get the chance to check out a new release, I jump on it. I was very happy when I finally got my hands on Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream. Sophie was my favorite of the Mysterious trilogy, and spending more time with her seemed like a win. Let’s see if this game met the high expectations I set for it.
This is a direct sequel to Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, and begins with Plachta and Sophie going towards their next destination on the road to becoming a licensed alchemist. They soon encounter a strange tree, and a vortex appears and sucks them both in. Sophie awakens in a strange land, but Plachta is nowhere to be found. She begins to frantically search for her, and soon discovers a town of people. This town is called Roytale, and she will find many friends there to help her search for her lost mentor. What will Sophie discover about this strange world, and what actually happened to Plachta? It will take some luck and lots of alchemy to find these answers.
This story is self contained, so while I feel like it would be better if you played The Mysterious Book first, it’s not necessary to understand what’s going on here. It does give you a much better insight into Sophie and Older Plachta’s characters. Everything here centers around dreams, friendship, and never giving up on yourself while trying to make the world a better place. I cannot think of a better message to send out into the world right now than that. Everything here is laid back, as you would expect from the series, and that’s a great thing.
The new characters here are all amazing, and I loved each one of them. Young Plachta is the same, but also very different from her more mature self. Still pretty smug, but you can tell experiences in her life have given her plenty of growth. Ramizel is a strong warrior that is a great leader. Sophie can tell right off that Ramizel is her grandma that she loved so dearly. Seeing these two interact throughout the story is heartwarming, and very emotional at times. The resident treasure hunter, Alette, is a very comical character. She is always looking for the next big score, but this girl has a heart of gold already. She is a bit clumsy, but it only adds to her cuteness. Olias and Diebold are the two badass guys of the story. Both work as bodyguards, keeping people safe from the monsters of this land. They each have an interesting backstory, and both are two of my favorite male characters of the franchise now.
Fans will notice right off that Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream has gotten a graphical upgrade from the first game. All of the character models looks fantastic, and all of the environments are well presented. They had to put extra work in on these this time around, since there are many weather effects that change them up. The monsters look great as well. You will see some familiar ones, and some new ones as well. The boss monsters are the standouts here. You can tell a lot of love went into making them look great.
I love basically every GUST soundtrack ever made. I think this team does an amazing job on every game they work on. Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is no exception to this. The exploration themes are upbeat and full of mystery. The battle music is some of my favorite in the franchise already, and the ending theme is great as well. It’s not quite up to the standard “Hands” set in Ryza 2, but it’s still pretty great. The Japanese voice cast does a great job bringing these characters to life. They always seem to do a great job in not only conveying the emotion of a scene, but bringing a lot of personality to the table as well.
The gameplay here is a pretty standard affair. You go out to collect materials to make items, equipment, and other things you need to progress the story. New alchemy recipes appear as the story progresses, and they make it fairly easy to keep track of what is needed to unlock them. The only minor complaint I have here is sometimes I already completed a goal for one of these before it is unlocked, so it doesn’t count. This gives you a bit of backtracking at times, but each stage has plenty of waypoints to start at, making it not too much of a hassle.
The new field mechanic this time around is the ability change the weather. This will not only open up new paths, but also change what enemies you can encounter and the items you can gather as well. This give some fields a light puzzle element, which I thought was pretty fun. This effect can be used in boss battles as well, and can really turn the tide of battle. Some bosses will gain bonus stats under one weather condition while taking a debuff in another. This makes it important to keep an eye on the weather when the battle begins, in case a change in the forecast is needed.
Combat here has gone back to the turn-based roots of the franchise, but they have thrown in a few new things as well. The combat setup features front and back rows. These characters can attack in pairs via the Twin Action system, so long as your meter is built up enough to do so. This gives combat a great flow were you actually feel like you need every member of your party at their fullest. That same gauge can be used to have a back row party member defend a front row one as well. You will have to decide if it is better to go all out, or hold back for some defense. Later in the game you will unlock powerful attacks called Dual Triggers. These massive attacks can be pulled off after so many Twin Actions, and will grow more powerful as your friendship with the party increases. I had to use a lot of these to defeat some of the powerful bosses in the late game, because of their Auras.
Auras are the next major addition to the combat. Enemies that have these will be immune to most damage until they are dispersed. The second attack of a Twin Action will still get some of the damage through, but it best to deal with these ASAP. To break an Aura, you simply have to hit it with an opposing element until you deplete its points. Some of these go down pretty easily, but others can be a real pain to break. You can make items and give your equipment some traits to help with this. Once an Aura is broken, the enemy will be stunned and take massive damage for a short time. In boss battles, it is very important you take advantage of this opportunity. It can be the difference between victory and defeat.
Synthesizing items here works basically like it did in Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. You still place elemental colored blocks on a grid, trying to match up as many as possible to create the most powerful ones you can. The grids and effects can still be changed, but instead of cauldrons, you use catalysts this time around. Using a restricted grid will help your items grow faster, but it can make fitting all the different shaped blocks a real pain. As your friendship level grows with your party, they can help you with this as well. Each one has a different element they can help you with by giving you extra links, extra pieces, and even extra materials. This is a great addition to this system by throwing a bit of spice in the mix. I have to say, this is one of my favorite alchemy systems, so I was happy to see it back. I spent way too much time trying work things in to get that last bit of power out of my items.
Without a doubt, Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is one of my favorite releases of this year. The graphics are top notch, gameplay is great, and the soundtrack is simply amazing. The story here is what I love the most. This is a positive story that is pure JRPG comfort food, and damn if we all don’t need some comfort right now. I was a little worried when this was announced and about how a follow up to Sophie would work, and I can safely say, I was worried for nothing. The game retails for $59.99, and I spent around 56 hours with this one. This a fantastic release in the franchise and a must own for fans. This title is very welcoming to newcomers as well, so if you never picked up one of these great JRPGs, now is a good time to jump in.
Game was provided for review from the publisher, but the season pass was purchased by the reviewer.
AlchemyAtelier SophieAtelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious DreamGustKoei TecmoPCReviewsRPGSteam