Atelier Arland series has seen many ports. Originally released for the PS3, they were later ported with new content to the PS Vita and now for Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PC. These games are not for everyone mainly because of the visual design. They carry a certain anime aesthetics that might not sit well with most folks, but beneath their design is always a surprisingly deep and fun role-playing game that is a grind heavy but enjoyable experience.
Atelier Arland Series Deluxe pack gives fans the chance to experience some of the best games in the series. Indeed, these three Atelier games were pretty good and while the following entries improved, and in some cases, regressed on the already established gameplay formula, these managed to hold on their own. If you are not familiar with how the series works, then it might be difficult to understand the difference since there have been a dozen games released across the past two generations.
Atelier is the work of Japanese developer Gust, who tried to create some new IPs but have always fallen back to the Atelier series, which remains their most popular effort so far. Atelier Arland Deluxe brings the ‘Plus’ version that was exclusive to the PS Vita and featured new content to the consoles for the first time. There is no additional extra content but if you have played these games on the PS Vita, there is a massive jump in both performance and visuals.
The key to enjoying these games is to avoid taking them seriously. They might contain some childish writing, but the best part is easily the lead alchemist, which is always well-developed so the player has an easier time dealing with their progress and character development. For the Arland series, you will take control of three different alchemists: Rorona, Totori, and Meruru. What’s great here is that as you play through each game, you will find out how their personalities are completely different and this has a certain impact on how you appreciate the story.
The main theme that is the same between each game is usually the exploration and gameplay loop. For the most part of the main story campaign, you are going to explore the world, fight the various monsters, gather ingredients and learn and complete new alchemy recipes. The grind part is what makes these games a little hard to recommend and if you want to experience this trilogy in one go, it is possible to suffer fatigue due to their similarity.
There are some small tweaks made between the different entries. The story ties together between the trilogy so you will have to start with the first game and continue this way, otherwise, the events and characters won’t make as much sense. It is always interesting to see how each game tried to innovate the design and give fresh new gameplay ideas. It manages to keep most things fresh, but still, I will still not recommend playing them all in one go. The best way to experience this trilogy is in short breaks between each game.
Every game offers a different story structure and mission for your character. In Atelier Rorona, you control Rorolina Frixell who is studying alchemy but has a lazy master. The workshop where she studies alchemy is under threat by the crown which leads Rorona to complete some timed goals from the crown in order to avoid getting the workshop closed.
Atelier Totori will continue the story further and takes place eight years after the events in the first game. This time, you control Totori who is again a student, but her main quest this time is to go on an adventure and journey around the world. There is actually a purpose behind Totori’s motivation to go on this journey later explained that she wants to find her mother that went missing two years ago.
In the last game, which is Atelier Meruru, you end up with a royal princess who wants to study alchemy but doesn’t get permission from her father. She finally decides to settle on a way that will not only please her father but also help grow the kingdom. This will also let her carry out her dream of learning Alchemy. So while every story is different, the gameplay loop is mostly the same. The supporting cast is always the star of the show, and it is completely different between the three different games.
These are some lengthy games that will take you several hours of gameplay to complete, but the fear of suffering through fatigue is also real. The launch price is rather hefty at first, but once you take into consideration the amount of content offered here, with plenty of side content to tackle, it is not a bad choice if you are looking for a light-hearted JRPG to play through these holidays.
Lastly, there are some fan-service elements thrown in with the ability to pick costumes for the characters that can also include bikini and other costumes. You can view them in a character model viewer and zoom in and out with full freedom. It is not really something that interests me but for those who wanted to see if there is any censorship, I wanted to clarify that this mode is available.
Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: The 3 parts of the Arland Series Released in one deluxe edition!
Final Score - 8/10
A collection well suited for the classic Atelier fans. What makes it exciting is how these games still hold up fine even today, and if you haven't managed to play them, or started with the series, this is a good stepping stone for the franchise.