Atelier Totori takes place 5 years after the previous game,[Atelier Rorona. It begins with Totori in the fishing village of Alanya, her hometown, and ends after five years pass. Totooria Helmold is Rorona’s student who is looking for her missing mother. After the events of Atelier Rorona, Rorona has been traveling across Arland teaching alchemy. One day, Totori and her older sister find a starving Rorona collapsed on their doorstep. She teaches Totori about alchemy, adopting her as a student. Since then, Totori has been learning alchemy on her own.
Everyone in Alanya believes that Totori’s mother is dead. However, Totori thinks she is still alive, so she travels to Arland in order to become an adventurer and search for her. Players follow Totori on her journey exploring the world, improving her alchemy, and searching for her long-lost mother.
Okay, before we get started i have to say this. Please don’t take this as a review, I’ve played the game since it’s release and frankly I’m barely touching the surface of what the game offers. As such I’ve no where near completed the game, even my first play through feels a long way off. Okay, so that’s out the way lets get into what i think of the game.
I picked this up at pre-order, so it was a full price game costing £34.99, the pre-order included two bits of additional clothing which frankly are worthless, but it’s free content I was reluctant to buy this originally, since it’s a new IP for me, having never played any of the previous games, the cost, and the fact most reviews I’d read for the original PS3 release were less than stellar.
However i have to admit that i am rather enjoying the game, though it does have a few flaws.
The game is rather a good looking one, with character designs for the most part being distinct, well developed and interesting. Though i do feel one of the characters who appears to be a reused skin is probably going to turn out to be the twin brother or something.
The general art of the game is pretty high quality, for what it is. While there’s nothing complex, it is very well done; with a good mix of 3D and 2D art. The characters are funny, and there’s something about the various characters that really make you like them.
That’s not to say the game is perfect, cause it isn’t. However the few things I’ve noticed are small enough not to be game breaker for me. Issues such as not being able to change outfits from in the game, you have to access the extras section outside of the game to do it. Changing costumes looks fine, until you’ve got the 2D sprites for dialogue, none of these have been done in the costumes. So while your character is in a new costume, the 2D sprite which dominates the screen, is in the standard outfit.
Changing armour doesn’t effect your costumes either sadly. This does mean that the armour doesn’t have to look like anything, since it’s your costume that gives you your outward appearance. Problem is the armour so far looks better than the costumes, so I’d love to wander around in those rather than the costumes.
To enter into combat your supposed to press the button next to the enemies and hit them first, thus giving you the advantage in the battle. However it doesn’t quite work like this on the vita, you think your far enough away to hit them, but end up either missing or being hit mid swing, which is very frustrating. The Problem here is a mix of the small screen size, and the fact there’s no camera control what so ever, your reliant on the AI to move the camera, which does a poor job of it.
I’m not sure if the next is a common thing in the previous games, but this game has a rather annoying problem. There’s no direction, no hints or anything on what your supposed to be doing at the start of the game. Given the game has a dead set time limit this is very frustrating since you can spend a lot of time wandering around and doing things you really shouldn’t, burning up precious time.
When i say precious time i DO mean precious time. Everything in the game costs you time, whether your walking, fighting, gather or synthesising. The last of those costs you a lot of time, so much so you can easily lose track of it. Initially you may think this isn’t a huge thing, since you do have a very generous time limit, however your choices and time use early in the game can really screw you over in the end.
However i have to admit i don’t really have a problem with this, since it does give the game high replay ability, especially with the multiple endings.
What is very frustrating however is that there’s a lot of un-skipable stuff in the game, if your playing through or restarting for your second, third (or in my case fifth) time you don’t want to have to watch everything again. Unfortunately there’s no skip forward button to allow you to skip those cut scenes. Even the normal dialogue has to be by passed manually using the ‘X’ button.
As i said though these are not game breaking issues, they do give the game character and make it stand out from the rest of the RPG’s out there.
The combat reminds me of the Final Fantasy series, with semi-active combat. You get a long time to chose your actions and targets, with a combat queue showing you the progression order. If like me, you’re an old hat at the FF series the combat will be easy to pick up and get into, and frankly enjoy. Aeon’s are gone of course, but skills are there. Items can only be used by alchemists, so pretty much only you, since there’s only 3 alchemists in the game world. This is quite an important thing, since your character, Totori, is stupidly weak, so it’s best to keep her in the back and have the others protect her while she heals and buffs.
Your limited to 2 party members at a time, which does mean you need to be able to party manage. This is especially true since friendship level comes into play, you need to max the level as quickly as possible and then replace with another party member, rinse and repeat.
One thing i will say about this game, it’s dialogue heavy, and i do mean heavy, extreme level of heavy. Some time i do feel the dialogue gets in the way, but most of it is fitting and interesting to follow, since it is through this dialogue that we get character development and story.
Thus far, the game has proven to be well worth the investment i made by buying it for full price. though i do wish i could have gotten my hands on the special premium edition of the game, i would have considered this to be money worth spending.
NIS America did a freaking awesome job with the regionalisation. The translation does get a little funky at times, but it’s no where near as bad as say Funimation, who frequently bastardise the translations. Frankly i was really impressed with what I’ve seen so far of the game, the care and dedication that NIS America took on the game is clearly evident. What’s more, and really made my day, is the fact that the game has dual english audio and japanese, so it’s up to you which you prefer. Frankly, i also have to admit that the english dub for the game isn’t that bad, and while did like it, i do still prefer the original japanese
If you like J-RPG’s and haven’t already, i would recommend giving this game a try, since so far I’m loving it to death!