As a newcomer to the Atelier series, I believed I would fall in love with the game’s quirky story, beautiful art style and old school turn based mechanics but after playing Atelier Ayesha, the game falls flat in most of these aspects plus more. This game isn’t terrible but it’s not great either.
Atelier Ayesha tells the story of a young apothecary turned alchemist called Ayesha. Despite her happy nature, she lives alone and runs a business in the middle of nowhere. Ayesha, however, did have a sister called Nio a few years back but after scavenging for medicinal supplies, she mysteriously disappeared, leaving Ayesha alone. Ayesha believed Nio to have passed away unexpectedly. One day, Ayesha, looks for supplies, and goes to Nio’s grave to pay her respects. When she arrives, she gets a surprise as she sees Nio alive in a ghostly form smiling at her. Nio, to Ayesha’s dismay, vanishes after emerging to her after all these years but she is “determined” to get her back. With the help of an alchemist around the area, she is told to go on a journey for finding a way to save Nio but other than saying that Ayesha needs to become an alchemist, he is extremely vague on what she has to do.
Much like the alchemist’s instruction, the story overall is vague and hard to follow despite its shallow premise. The story does not tell you how to get to the next area and does not give any clarity on what you’re doing. In addition to that, there are many cutscenes in this game which will drive you insane by Ayesha’s terrible voice acting and the narrative’s pointless conversations. Instead of telling us about a man’s dreams of opening up a bakery or seeing “cute cows” eating grass, how about telling us where to go next? You are left astray for hours at a time, not knowing where to go and when you think you’re in the right area, the pointless conversations appear, frustrating you even more. Throughout the game as well, it appears that Ayesha doesn’t care about her sister at all and strays her mind away on other tasks. Ayesha is a huge airhead of a character and from this, you will not care for the story or the character whatsoever. At one point, I simply skipped all the cutscenes to avoid the useless banter between characters and try to focus on what little the main story offers.
Despite the story being lackluster, Atelier Ayesha has a variety of new gameplay mechanics which make the game feel fresh for the average roleplaying game fanatic. Firstly, there is a focus on alchemy which will have you go around the world to gather certain items such as wax, honey, plants etc. With these gathered materials, you can create bombs, medicines and goods that townsfolk ask for. It’s quite addicting to create all these items from alchemy and while never being a fan of alchemy before, I really enjoyed this aspect of the game. When succeeding in creating an item, finding a new area or helping the townsfolk, the player receives memory points. With these, you can gain statistic boosts for Ayesha and story summaries in her memory diary. Every once in a while, the player also receives notifications on what you can do to obtain memory points such as gathering enough materials in an area. Once again, getting tasks done and obtaining memory points is an addicting process which will keep trophy junkies happy.
The battle system, isn’t as addicting as the other gameplay elements of the game but it feels somewhat new to those who love a good roleplaying game. With the AC system, players can direct the characters to protect each other, attack from behind or give a second attack after the enemy has received the first initial whack. As said before, Ayesha can also use items she has crafted within battle such as medicines, poisons and bombs which have an affliction or element attack towards the opposition. The initial battle system, however, is standard but for those who haven’t played a good old fashioned turn based RPG for a long time and want to get back into the swing of things, give Atelier Ayesha a try.
Atelier Ayesha feels old school in terms of gameplay which is a good thing for many fans of the genre but the sound design of the game sounds like its from a terrible 90′s cartoon. From the aggravating menu notification sounds which echo from the PS1 era to the obnoxious high pitched voice acting for Ayesha, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is some of the worst game audio I heard for a long time. Plus for those who are fans of Japanese voice acting, you will be disappointed because there are no alternatives to the English dub. In spite of this, the music slightly clouds over the awful audio with upbeat and catchy tunes. The sound track fits the right mood for the cutscenes (Journey To The New World is my favorite track of the bunch) and the bustling town theme definitely makes you feel welcome. Although there are some great tracks in this game, the one which should be focused on and is listened to the most, the battle theme, is horrendously bland.
Much like the town and cutscene soundtracks of the game, Gust (the developers) have created a world with plenty of personality for Atelier Ayesha. The colorful surroundings, the weird but whimsical animation of the characters and the fanciful locations all play a part in making this world appealing to explore. It seems as though the developers of Atelier Ayesha focused more on the world rather than the story itself. There is another hang up to Atelier Ayesha, meanwhile, as this game has regular drops in frame rate.
Overall, this game features a wonderful world and fantastic game play mechanics but the main character of the game, Ayesha, ruins this title. Everything about her including the voice and the personality are incredibly frustrating to toil through. The main character is the most important part of a roleplaying game and with Ayesha, it fails terribly. If you are a lover of roleplaying games, this is recommended for how much it changes the formula but if you tend to focus more on the story than the mechanics, stay away from Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk.
Thanks to Tecmo Koei for providing a review code for PlayStation Euphoria.