Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is a light role-playing game that follows the story of two young alchemists, the titular Escha and Logy, on their mission to master the lost art of alchemy, save their alchemical R&D department from closure, and eventually learn the secrets of the unexplored ruins in the sky nearby. Like previous Atelier games, the focus here is on making all kinds of items through alchemy, a process which sees you gathering several resources, and mixing them together (following a recipe) to create something new. With quests to complete, you'll find yourself having to perform one big task for your employer every few months, alongside a handful of smaller optional quests, splitting the rest of your time between creating things for the townsfolk (and your own personal use), and exploring ancient ruins, lush green forests and drab deserts, where you'll battle enemies, and harvest the ingredients for your alchemical creations. With different raw ingredients having a different effect on the finished product, mixing, matching and experimenting with each recipe to make the best items possible is key.
Generally speaking, Atelier is a pretty easygoing game, with each quest following a similar pattern. Usually, you'll head out to a dungeon to harvest ingredients, and battle a few monsters, before heading back to cook up some new things in your workshop - rinse and repeat. Exploring and harvesting often leads to you having a few run-ins with the local wildlife, though, kickstarting some fairly straight-forward turn-based battles, where you and your team mates take it in turns to whack enemies, and use items such as healing potions and bombs (which you'll have crafted yourself, naturally). Making use of the 'support meter' is key to winning battles too, as this special feature lets your allies land some extra hits on enemies, or leap in to take the damage for another - although its use is limited, so you'll want to plan when to unleash them strategically.
However, Atelier does give you a fair bit of freedom in terms of what you get to do next, to the point where it may be a little intimidating for younger ones. Firstly, everything you do, from alchemy to exploring to gathering ingredients takes time, eating into the 120 day time limit you have for each chunk of the story - and such pressure, even if the limit is pretty lax, does require at least a small amount of discipline. The freedom you have to create things with alchemy also means the game is best suited to older children, as not only does it require a fairly solid reading ability (as not everything in game is voiced), but much of the more complex alchemical processes require a fair bit of trial and error and playing around with properties. Sometimes, you'll be set a task that'll require you to create an item with a specific effect attached to it, such as a bomb with added fire damage, and working out exactly how to do so, especially with the limited instructions the game gives you, can be a bit of a challenge - and something best suited to more adventurous players.
- "Why don't we get back on track now and talk about your duties with the R&D Department?"
- "All right, it looks like we have enough material in the atelier to Synthesize some medicine."
- "All right, I hear ya. You just hang tight, ya knuckleheads!"
A bright and bubbly concoction, Atelier Escha & Logy Plus is generally pretty family friendly - there's no bad language, guts or gore, and defeated enemies simply fade away when defeated. About the only questionable moments are when one character gets rather drunk and another where someone threatens to grope someone, referring to the size of the aforementioned character's chest, but such events are singular, and few and far between.
Format Reviewed: PS Vita