Atelier Lydie and Suelle is the next mainline game in the ever growing Atelier series. This one is a more lighthearted take on the formula established by the series. It features two main leads, Lydie and her twin sister Suelle. They start the game as an amateur Alchemists who are trying to make a name for themselves and run around doing errands in order to make some money for their Alchemist workshop. They soon learn that it won’t be easy to get popular and grow their Atelier unless they start trying to gain a reputation as a good Alchemist.
The relationship between the both sisters and their father results in a rather cute and charming angle for the story, it can also be incredibly silly but what makes the game work for me is this slice of life angle that you won’t find in many games. In their quest to climb the ranks of Alchemists, both sisters decide to apply for an official ranking test and have to go through a set of trials in order to succeed with their mission. It is a simple tale that is not overly complex and still manages to keep the game interesting enough that you will have the motivation to see the story through the end.
Atelier games have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. They are never going to match the production or scope of many of the large scale JRPGs but they do well enough to stand on their own. The last game, Atelier Firis, was divisive among the fans because of how much it changed the classic formula so with Atelier Lydie and Suelle, the developers seem to have taken the feedback of fans who were disappointed with the last game and tried to satisfy them. It seems to have worked out well because I think the game still retains most of the core concepts that made the Atelier series so great while removing some of the more frustrating design choices. One such choice is the restriction faced by the forced time limited concept which has been changed so it is easier to deal with now.
Atelier Lydie and Suelle feature a mix of hub-based world with the linear progression that the games are known for. This means you will still be able to explore the world as you desire but the game has the same time limitation in place so you will have to keep that in mind. You can explore the town using quick travel or simply run from one location to the next, however the ease of use for fast travel, and how the game basically lets you know the important locations or quests, makes it much more convenient to just settle on the fast travel. It simply pops up a menu that lets you see the main story quest, any optional sidequest or event and go to the appropriate location for them.
The combat in Atelier Lydie and Suelle is again turn-based and it can often feel relatively simple next to most of the modern JRPGs. The battle system works based on the order of placement for the characters on an active time gauge which uses the position of the player or the enemy to determine which will end up taking the next turn. It is similar to Final Fantasy X with its turn-based combat although that’s where the similarity will end. The new additions to the combat are follow up attacks and the combination arts. They keep the simple battle system interesting by letting you chain together combo attacks with a partner.
The main story often feels like it offers mostly fetch quests, infact the game even begins with such a quest, but since you will have to gather materials naturally to do the alchemy, it is a design choice that is understandable. The alchemy itself is one of the fun part of the game, atleast to me. You will have to gather a set of materials as required by the item that you want to create and then depending on the quality of materials that you have gathered, you will end up with a low or high level item. The system might sound simple now but it actually offers a lot of depth and will take a while to learn all of the useful combinations in order to get the best result out of alchemy.
Paintings play a role in the story by offering the two leads a chance to explore in a completely new world. Lydie or Suelle can go into the world depicted by the paintings to gather new materials for their Alchemy research and then use them to create fresh items. The painted world offers some exotic locations however just like the main game, the primary purpose for you to get into them will be to collect high quality materials. The locations are thankfully varied here so there won’t be a feeling of repetition when it comes to exploring these new locales.
Atelier Lydie and Suelle is a good JRPG but it can also feel extremely rushed. Some of the design choices are terrible, like the manual save being the only option for the player in order to keep their progress, or the tutorial that lacks depth on alchemy forcing you to resort to trial and error. This could have been fixed with a little more time and even though the game is out in Japan for a while now, there doesn’t appear to be much work done here in order to make it better.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists And The Mysterious Paintings Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is a role-playing video game developed by Gust, and originally released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 in December 2017.
A fun Atelier game that can be fairly complex with its alchemy mechanics, but it is also simple to understand even if you have never played any of the past entries in the series.